Happy World Sea Turtle Day

June 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm | Posted in Creature Feature, Endangered Encounters | Leave a comment
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Happy World Sea Turtle Day, creature lovers! It’s not exactly easy to be a sea turtle. From the moment they hatch, they face the struggles of artificial light disorientation and being eaten by predators, to growing up and facing the dangers of ingesting litter and being struck by boats, all the way to having their nests poached when its their time to return to the beach from which they hatched to lay their eggs. Humans really seem to have turned out to be their worst enemy. But no matter where you are in the world, you can help. Help save our turtles, and the oceans they live in! Pick up trash, say no to plastic bags, make the switch to environmentally friendly lighting to reduce sky glow. Lets save what we have left for future generation to enjoy! A turtle that hatches today could still be around for our great grandchildren to enjoy, let’s be sure they are.

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Remember to Recycle!

July 1, 2013 at 2:32 am | Posted in The Wild Side | Leave a comment
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Just a friendly reminder from wildlife everywhere to please recycle! This girl is checking in, making sure we humans are getting it right.

Tortuga Music Festival is Coming Soon to Ft. Lauderdale!

March 11, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Posted in Animal Events, Breaking Tradition, For the Family | 3 Comments
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It’s almost here!  In just over one short month, Ft. Lauderdale Beach will be taken over by the wonderful music of artists such as Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Jake Owen, Michael Franti & Speahead… and so very many others that you’ll just have to look at the photo above to get an idea.  And more artists are still joining in!  All for an awesome cause – to help save out oceans!

The Tortuga Music Festival, brought to you by Rock The Ocean and benefiting the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, is a weekend long music festival to help out our oceans, presented by Landshark Lager. (Thank you Jimmy Buffett, feel free to drop on in!)  Think it’s not a big deal?  Flashback to geography class and remember that 3/4 of our planet is ocean.  That’s a big part of our world, and considering how much they provide all of us with, the big blue sea is something everyone needs to care about.

So come on down, catch some amazing music and eat some fantastic food to your hearts content, all while helping support the cause – to help raise awareness and educate folks on marine conservation and supporting a sustainable ocean.  I’ll be there, son (and sun) on my shoulders, rockin out!  And don’t forget your Guy Harvey shirt!

IF YOU GO:

You can learn more about the festival, purchase tickets, sign up and join the loyalty program for a chance to win tickets and other exciting prizes (wanna to snorkeling with Gloriana?), or even donate to the cause here…

http://www.tortugamusicfestival.com/

Learn more about Rock The Ocean and see if they’ll be having an event near you here…

http://rocktheocean.com/

And learn more about the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation here…

http://www.guyharvey.com/our-mission/

Hope to see you all out there!

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Lion Country Safari – West Palm Beach, FL

October 15, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Posted in For the Family | 1 Comment
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Jambo!  Welcome to Lion Country Safari, America’s first cageless zoo!  LCS has been a long time personal favorite of mine.  I have so many amazing memories of going with my family when I was young, having birthday parties there when my incredibly brave mother would bring a van full of my and my friends, and I still remember how excited I was the first time I was old enough to drive through myself. (If you didn’t know I was an animal nerd before, there’s a statement that gives all the proof you need.)  This zoo offers two different types of experiences – the Safari World Amusement Park (which we’ll get to a little later) and the drive through safari.  When you first enter the safari, the gatekeeper will give you a CD to listen to as you explore the park.  Pop it in, there is a lot of great information in there about the animals you’ll be seeing in each section.

The first area you’ll be entering is Las Pampas, the South American name for “grasslands”.  Here you will find residents like the Aldabra Tortoise, one of the largest tortoises in the world who can live up to around 150 years; the Rhea, who stands about 4 feet tall, making it the 4th largest of all birds; the Llama, used in many South American farms to help with hauling as well as raised for their wool, meat and milk (and yes, they do spit, though it’s not something you have to worry about here); the South American Tapir who love to spend time in the water.  You’ll also find an island of Brown Pelican’s, many of which were once wild pelicans who have been injured and are unable to be returned to the wild due to injuries that would make life difficult or impossible for them survive, and now have a safe home here.

Next, you’ll enter the Ruaha National Park, an area of Africa known for its abundant variety of wildlife.  Here you’ll find the Greater Kudu, a beautiful antelope species with striped marking and curved horns on the males.  The Impala can also be seen here, a very agile breed of antelope that makes its predators work hard in the wilderness.  Also here is the Aoudad, a species of antelope that is famous for its ability to go for long periods of time without drinking water, able to get all the water it needs from the plants is grazes on.

The third area you’ll drive through will be the Kalahari Bushveldt, named after a large dry plateau in Southwest Africa.  This area is home to the Nile Lechwe, and antelope who is considered to be rather slow on dry land, but is incredibly fast when it comes to running through water or muddy areas, thanks to its wide hoof.  Also here is the Gemsbok, an antelope species in which both males and females sport those long horns, though injuries from fighting are not common in this rather peaceful breed.

The drive will bring you to the Gir Forest next, named after a national park in India.  The largest animal you’ll see here is the Asiatic Water Buffalo, an animals who has become very domesticated, with only hundreds truely living in the wild.  As its name suggests, it loves the water, and you’ll often see just its head sticking out when it’s cooling off.  There are also two kinds of antelope here – the Nilgai, which is the largest of the Asian antelope, and the Blackbuck, named for the dark color of the males.  Here you will also see a herd of Kulan, AKA the Asian Wild Ass, who is the fastest of the horse family and can reach speeds up to 45mph.

As you drive through the Gir Forest, you have the option to drive through the Gorgongosa Reserve, named after a wildlife reserve in Mozambique.  While you have the option to pass this section, why would you want to miss the namesake of the park – the Lions!  This area is much different than the rest of the drive, the Lions are kept behind a fenced area and unable to cross the road or approach your car.  This aspect has changed from when I was younger, the Lions used to roam their section just as freely as the rest of the animals on the safari.  It was much cooler back when they weren’t separated, but I’m sure at some point in time someone did something stupid like roll down their windows, try to feed the Lions, or push their luck and attempt to exit the car.  So while I don’t blame LCS at all for making it a safer environment for both humans and lions, I still miss the old version.  Regardless, it’s still awesome!  The Lions, who are the largest members of the cat family, have a huge area to roam and are under constant supervision so fear not.  This pride (family of Lions) has plenty to do to keep busy thanks to Lion Country Safari’s Lion Enrichment Program.  If you come early or late enough in the day you may be lucky enough to see them up playing.  Otherwise they’re usually pretty lazy during the heat of the day, but still beautiful when they’re napping.

After finishing in the Gir Forest, you’ll find yourself entering the Serengeti Plains, named after the Serengeti in east Africa.  Here you’ll find several types of antelope like the Eland who is the tallest of the African antelope and can reach a whoppin’ 6 feet tall, the Waterbuck with its telltale target-like marking on its rear end, and the Wildebeest who doesn’t look much like an antelope at all and is also known as a Gnu (Who gnu?!)   You’ll also see the Watusi, AKA the Ankole Cattle, with their giant horn set that can span as large as 10 feet. One of the most entertaining animals you’ll find in this area is the Ostrich, the worlds largest bird.  It’s not uncommon to see them approach cars and peck at your windshield.

Also in the Sernegeti Plains is an island that houses the parks Camels and a Rhinoceros.  This island used to be home to LCS’s family of African Elephants up to just less than a decade ago, but Lion Country Safari’s participation in an elephant conservation program has sent them off to more “elephant friendly” zoos in the country where they have the opportunity to enter breeding programs to help save this endangered species.  One of them is as near as Animal Kingdom in Orlando.  So now the area has become home to other animals.

The final stretch you’ll drive through is Hwange National Park, named after the reserve in Zimbabwe.  This is my favorite section of the drive.  Here you are usually greeted by a herd of Grant’s Zebra upon entering the area.  Zebra’s are as unique as human beings – their stripes are like fingerprints, no two are the same.  Mingling amongst the Zebra’s, you’ll find the White Rhinoceros.  Unlike the name suggests, they’re gray and not white, and are usually quite docile animals, though you are still warned that they can do damage to your vehicle.  LCS is a participator in the Species Survival Plan for the White Rhino and has a very sucessful breeding program. (You can even see one of the babies pictured above.)  Along your drive you’ll see several primate islands, home to Chimpanzee’s (on the left) and White-Handed Gibbons (on the right).  Lion Country Safari is a participant of ChimpanZoo, a program headed by Dr. Jane Goodall, in which researchers are trained to observe Chimps.  At the very end, before exiting the drive, is the Giraffe’s.  Standing at up to 17 feet tall, they are the tallest land mammal.  Be sure to visit the Giraffe feeding inside the park to get a close look at their 18 inch long purple tongues!

Once you’ve completed your drive, remember to return your CD and enjoy the rest of the park.  There is a restaurant but you are also welcome to bring your own lunch and enjoy in the picnic area.  There are animals on display in the Safari Park like Alligators, Flamingos, Monkeys, Parrots, and tons of reptiles that will make little boys jump for joy and their mothers run off.  There are also a good handful of rides for the kids (and even adults) including a carousel, ferris wheel, safari boat ride, paddle boats, camel rides, and many others.  You can play a round of mini golf, visit with the animals at the petting zoo, or feed the Giraffes or the birds in the Lory aviary.  On hot days, there is a splash park to help cool you down.  Lion Country Safari really is an excelent way to spend the day with the family.

IF YOU GO:

Find more information on the park here… http://www.lioncountrysafari.com/index.html

I recommend going either first thing in the morning when they open, or later in the day.  The animals tend to rest during the heat of the day and you’ll see much more activity when they’re not taking their mid day naps.  You’re able to drive through as many times as you like, so if you arrive around noon and find the animals are rather lazy, drive through again before you leave and they may be waking up again.

If you think for any reason that you may return to LCS within 365 days of your visit, get the annual pass!  It will pay for itself within your second visit.  It also gets you free parking and discounts on other guests, at the gift shop, and on special programs like behind the scenes tours.  It also gets you other perks at participating parks during certain times of the year. (Right now, LCS annual passholders recieve free admission to Jungle Island through November 4th)

If you’re into camping, there is a KOA on sight for tents and RV’s and even have cabins to rent.  There would be nothing like waking up to the sound of a roaring lion!

Enjoy your day here!

Photos taken with my Nikon D3100

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