Payton’s Wild Wish at San Diego Zoo

Payton San Diego Zoo

“I loved seeing her smile all day. Everyone we encountered was welcoming and super nice.”

Payton loves animals, and wants to become a veterinarian when she grows up. She loves the San Diego Zoo, and always wanted a behind the scenes tour of how it operates. Kids Wish Network, a children’s charity that grants wishes for kids with life-threatening illnesses, heard about Payton’s dream and set up a trip for her and her family to visit the San Diego Zoo and be a zoo-keeper for a day.

Payton and her family drove to San Diego for her big animal adventure. During their trip, they stayed at the wonderful Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina. Payton loved the relaxing hotel located right on the water, especially the giant fish tank on display in the lobby. She suffers from Crohn’s disease and has been hospitalized because of her condition.

Payton’s zoo experience began the next morning. She was thrilled to have a one-on-one zoo keeper experience where she interacted and worked with a bunch of animals including giraffes, zebras, donkeys, a koala bear, gazelles, and Payton’s absolute favorite animal, the armadillo. “They remind me of Roly Polies,” said Payton. She loved spending time with the armadillo and even got to pet and wash it. She also fed the giraffes and gazelles, and got to bathe and hold a koala.


After her awesome behind the scenes encounters, Payton and her family spent the rest of the day exploring the magnificent San Diego Zoo. Anna, the zoo representative even gave Payton a cute sloth stuffed animal as a special remembrance of her amazing day. Afterwards, the family enjoyed a delicious dinner at The Cheesecake Factory.

“I loved seeing her smile all day. Everyone we encountered was welcoming and super nice,” said Payton’s mom Tricia.

Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following sponsors for making Payton’s dreams become a reality:

  • San Diego Zoo
  • Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina
  • The Cheesecake Factory