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Archive for the ‘zoos’ tag

June 28th, 2013 at 5:00 am

Visiting the Zoo

Little kids love animals…they love singing about them, reading about them, looking at pictures of them, watching them, and especially touching them! A great summer trip is to visit a local zoo. There is a great list of local zoo’s here. The zoo is a trip that is great for everyone in the family, from the infant to adult. Every age can learn about animals while visiting the zoo and spend time watching all the fun things the animals might do.

Here are some tips to make a trip for the zoo successful:

-Wear appropriate clothing for the weather and comfy shoes. Zoo’s require a lot of walking so keep that in mind when dressing everyone. Also, many zoos have indoor and outdoor areas so the temperature can change rapidly. Dress in layers so you can adjust to these changes.

- Pack a lunch or at least some water and snacks. Most zoos allow you to carry in a cooler or bag of food, so take advantage of this. Hungry bellies lead to crabby kids, so you need to be sure to keep them hydrated and full.

- Have a stroller or wagon with you. Make sure you bring one of these along or rent one while at the zoo. There can be a lot of walking for little legs, plus a stroller is great for little ones taking naps if they get tired.

- Make it fun for older kids with a zoo activity like a picture or written scavenger hunt. Talk about what different sounds the animals make, and what they eat or sleep. At the end talk about what everyones favorite animal is!

Most of all make it a great family day with lots of pictures and memories!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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February 9th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Single Vision, Inc. Saves Tigers

Most pet owners love their animals, but Carl Bovard is passionate about his, and has turned that passion into a mission he calls Single Vision. A terrible accident left Bovard with sight in only one eye. As he recovered, he came to see he had a vision that he should work to save the animals of the world. Since that time, Bovard has spent every waking moment learning about, working with, and caring for animals.

In 2005, he adopted two baby tigers born with vision problems that needed extra care, and he built a facility in Melrose, Florida, to house them. Bovard said he built Single Vision in memory of his grandfather, who owned a farm and who taught him to love and respect all animals.

As owner and founder of Single Vision, Inc., Carl does it all, with the help of some volunteers. In addition to the two original tigers, Single Vision is now home to nine other big cats and about 30 animals in all. Some of the other animals include: a bobcat, mountain lion, coatimundi, tarantulas and snakes. Many of the animals have come to Single Vision through Florida Fish and Wildlife confiscations.

In addition to providing sanctuary for the big cats and other animals that need a home, education is Carl’s true goal.

“We conduct private tours by appointment,” he said, “and sometimes visit school and library programs. We teach about habitat, range, physical characteristics, and status in the wild.” Big cats, especially tigers, are highly endangered, with only about 3,200 animals left in the wild.

“Three of the eight subspecies of tigers have gone completely extinct,” said Dilyn Jackson, who has been a volunteer with Single Vision for about five years. “Education is the key to their survival, and parents of young children will play a huge role in how the next generation cares for these animals and their environment. It’s the children of today who will decide the fate of our world tomorrow.”

Well-maintained facilities, such as Single Vision and reputable zoos, are important for preserving dwindling big cat populations. “Science has shown that you need a captive population of at least 250 animals within a subspecies to provide adequate breeding stock to bring a population back to the wild,” said Dilyn. It’s no easy feat to house and feed large tigers, which eat up to 30 pounds of raw meat a day.

The state of Florida has strict regulations for keeping exotic animals, and it’s a big part of Bovard’s job to keep up with the changing rules. “Our facility is unique in that we provide huge enclosures for our big cats to run and play, far exceeding the 10’ x 24’ enclosure required by law (for two big cats),” said Carl. “We provide daily exercise sessions to keep them healthy. More importantly, we build relationships with each of our animals.”

The next time you and your family are in Florida, contact Single Vision to make an appointment for a guided tour. Carl conducts the tours personally every day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (except the one day a week when he leaves to get food for the animals). Find out more about the facility and how you can help the Single Vision mission by visiting their website or Facebook page.

“I love being with the animals,” said Bovard. “I’m in it for life.”

Related Picture Books

Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins
A Tiger Grows Up by Anastasia Suen

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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November 2nd, 2011 at 5:00 am

Going to the Zoo, Part Two

In a recent post, we talked about how you can make the most of a visit to the zoo with young children. Today, I continue my interview with Rebecca Bearman, Lead Keeper of Program Animals at Zoo Atlanta.

Becky recommends that you plan ahead and look for the familiar. “Kids always like the animals they recognize the best,” she said. Check out a book or two about animals before your visit. (See recommendations below.)

Don’t bring food to feed the animals. “You should never feed animals at the zoo,” said Becky. “Each one is on a diet designed especially for that animal to keep it healthy. Additional food could be very harmful.”

Safety is the number one priority at the zoo — for the visitors, the keepers and the animals. “Be aware of where your child is at all times,” said Becky. New walkers who are out of the stroller for even a short time can be at particular risk. “Most zoos have double barriers between the patrons and the animals, but some of the outside barriers are easy for toddlers to squeeze through. Stay on marked paths and don’t let your children climb on barriers.”

In addition to the fun of seeing real, live animals, many zoos have added attractions. “Some zoos, like ours, have educational shows that are scheduled at various spots and times around the zoo,” said Becky. “Others zoos have added playgrounds or water parks. These attractions may have additional fees. It’s best to discuss a family decision in advance and make sure your kids understand your time and money constraints before each visit.”

We have two great zoos in Chicago. The Brookfield Zoo is wonderful, but I always preferred the smaller, more manageable Lincoln Park Zoo when my kids were very small. Check out this list of top zoos for kids (it’s called a top 10 list, but the article covers 25 kid-friendly zoos). Most have terrific websites, so do a search before you go.

And don’t let the chilly weather keep you away. Many zoos are open year around and have special programming for the season, especially around the holidays. Here in the Windy City, for example, the Lincoln Park Zoo hosts ZooLights from Thanksgiving through January 1.

Some related picture book recommendations:

Mr. Peek and the Misunderstanding at the Zoo, by Kevin Waldron

My Heart is Like a Zoo, by Michael Hall

photo credits: Becky and cocktoo at Zoo Atlanta by SDB; Brookfield Zoo by Jodi Glenn Fox

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.





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October 19th, 2011 at 12:37 am

Visting the Zoo with Young Children

The zoo is often a young family’s first “field trip.” I know it’s fall, but many zoos are open year around. Buying a year-long pass is often a great investment for families with young children, since attention spans can be short at this age and repetition is a good learning tool.

I interviewed Rebecca Bearman, Lead Keeper of Program Animals at Zoo Atlanta (and our older girl) to see if she had any good tips about visiting the zoo with young kids.

“My best advice is to start with your local zoo’s education department,” said Becky. “Most zoos have one and they often have programs specially designed for young visitors. For example, here at Zoo Atlanta, we have a program called “Mommy & Me” for children ages 2-3. This gives you and your children a chance to learn from an educator who knows how to teach to that age group.”

Typically, participants in the Zoo Atlanta Mommy & Me Program sign up for a three-week session, one hour each week (although single-week options are available). The program includes:

  • a guided walk through part of the zoo to see animals.
  • an up-close encounter with an education animal.
  • discovery stations featuring crafts, play time, and other great activities.

“We also offer a program for even younger children called ‘Stroller Cubs‘ for ages 0-2,” said Becky. “This is designed as learning experience for our youngest visitors to the zoo. Each zoo is different, but most special zoo programs require reservations and additional fees, so be sure to call the education department or check the zoo’s website for more detailed information.”

Make plans to visit a zoo near you soon with your little ones. If you do have a season pass, you may be able to use it at other zoos when you travel, since many offer free admission and/or discounts to other zoo members. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums keeps a list of participating zoos.

Next week, will see look at some Halloween animals. Then, on November 2, we’ll get some more great tips from our favorite zoo keeper about what to see and do with your young family at the zoo.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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March 30th, 2011 at 1:00 am

Party for the Planet

Every year, I think we should plan something to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, but we never do. Maybe it’s just me, but since it’s modern incarnation began in 1970, Earth Day  has seemed less of a celebration than a doomsday proclamation, and guilt has never been much of a motivator for me. It just makes me feel, well, guilty.

But this year, with the specter of radiation haunting us in the wake of the disasters in Japan, I’ve been moved to really celebrate this holiday. The ultimate power of Mother Earth over the destiny of our fragile human race has motivated me to stand up and take notice — maybe even pay a little respect.

The good news is that after more than four decades of Earth Days, there are lots of ways, big and small that we can make a difference. My favorite is called Party for the Planet™, where more than 100 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) sponsor Earth Day celebrations, some with just a single event, and others with an entire month of activities. No guilt, just a big party for our true Home (capital H).

Check out your favorite zoo’s website for a calendar of activities, or bookmark the AZA site for a growing list of participants. For those traveling over spring break in April, keep in mind that many zoos offer reciprocity with free or reduced admissions for zoo members. Here’s a list of zoos that participate in the AZA Reciprocity Program.

For those not near enough to a local zoo to participate in Party for the Planet, the Earth Day Network offers lots of other suggestions. This year’s theme is A Billion Acts of Green®. The United Nations has proclaimed 2011 as the International Year of the Forest. Kids aged 6-14 are invited to Paint Life in a Forest, in a contest to win $2,000 and a United Nation’s sponsored trip to Indonesia for the UNEP-Tunza International Children’s Conference (deadline April 15).

Or plan your own Party for the Planet. Here’s a list of great Earth Day read alouds from my friend, fellow writer and “readiologist” Esme Raji Codell. Or create a simple Earth Day craft. Or maybe just sing along with Tom Chapin’s Happy Earth Day.

This year, let’s all celebrate Earth Day. No guilt. Just Party for the Planet.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of People, Mike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blog, as well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.




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