Visitors who look skyward at San Diego's Wild Animal Park are now seeing more than the usual assortment of exotic birds. Up in the sky about six stories above the brown hillside is a new kind of flying species soaring overhead at about 40 mph, swooping to a sudden stop atop a platform the park has built especially for the species' arrival.
These creatures might logically be called the Smiling, Laughing Zip Line Riders because invariably that's what they do when they finish their breathtaking two-thirds-of-a-mile flight from a perch high above the hillside.
The Wild Animal Park's Flightline ride is attracting kids and adults of nearly all ages who want to try out the latest tourism craze. Zip lines are popping up all over California, from Catalina to historic Gold Country, and the state's leisure travelers are jumping at the chance to fly down a mountain with nothing but a wire and a pulley protecting them from a very unpleasant fall to earth.