Palm Beach Zoo

March 21, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Posted in For the Family | Leave a comment
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Another beautiful South Florida day means another perfect day at the zoo.  I know what you’re thinking.  “This girl goes to the zoo a lot!”  OK, guilty, I do.  I happen to live an hour or less from 3 great zoos and I have a 2 year old son, of course I do!  Plus, with annual passes, why not!  This AZA accredited zoo is a great place to spend just a few hours or the entire day. During the summer time I can promise you won’t see so many trips to the zoo.  But that’s not what this post is about, we’re here to talk about the animals we saw!

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The first direction we always head when entering this zoo is to the left.  Call it habit.  We love to see some of the zoos larger reptiles, including Mardi, the zoo’s White Alligator.  Seeing him is always very cool… My son loves alligators and this is one you’re able to see quite close, I always find myself amazed that Mardi is one of only 10 White Alligators in the world (truly white, not albino, they have blue eyes), making him an incredibly rare sight!

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There are a lot of other adorable and entertaining animals as you make your way into the zoo.  You’ll come across animals from the slow Sloth to two breeds of quick little Tamarins, colorful Macaws, and the always playful Ocelots.  Today the Ocelots we playing with whatever was nearby, chewing on bundles of plant debris and ambushing each other and they moved around their enclosure.

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In the Australian area of the zoo you’ll find some of coolest and cutest Aussie animals out there.  The New Guinea Singing Dogs aren’t always super active, but today we got lucky!  The pair actually approached the fence, tails wagging, and actually seemed genuinely interested in visitors.  The kids loved that they were able to get so close and the dogs even licked their hands through the safety of the fence, we even got to hear one “sing”.  You’ll also see Wallaby’s and Australian water fowl when you enter their habitat, being separated by a mere gate on the boardwalk.  The Australian Birds habitat features some of the islands famous feather species.  On this particularly cool day we watched at the Red Kangaroo did absolutely nothing.  Sounds exciting, right?  It was actually quite adorable, it laid itself out in the sun as if it were a tourist laying out at the beach.  And of course, the Australian Exhibits main focal, Oz and Abby the Koalas.  Palm Beach Zoo was chosen by the AZA to participate in the Koala Species Survival Plan, recieving this adorable pair in hopes that they will reproduce.  Their enclosure is fronted with glass, allowing people to get a close look at these precious little marsupials, and hopefully leaving them with a lasting impression to care and take action toward Koala conservation.

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The Asian area of the zoo has a good selection of critters from Asia, including the Howler Monkey who’s yells are rivaled only by my son and a walk through Asian Bird aviary with colorful birds from the continent.  The big feature of this area is obviously Asia’s famous big cats, the Tigers.  This May, Tiger Cubs Jaya, Bunga, and Penari will be celebrating their 2nd birthday.  Their births at the Palm Beach Zoo was a huge success for their breeding program and the zoo deserves a high five for taking such great care and ensuring the success of their program of this critically endangered species.  With any luck, they will continue with their success!

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Over in the Tropics of the Americas display you’ll find some wonderful animals from Central and South America.  Here you can see the beautiful resident Jaguar, check out the Nocturnal Animal Observation, and kids can take their pictures on structures in the Mayan Plaza.  When you cross the bridge you may catch a glimpse of Tapir’s swimming in the water and Patagonian Cavy’s lounging around.  Also be on the look out for Delilah, the zoos baby Giant Anteater.  Look carefully, that adult Anteater doesn’t have a hunched back, that’s actually little Baby Delilah hanging on her mothers back.

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Heading along our way, we walked past the Spider and Capuchin Monkey Islands.  The sight on the Spider Monkey Island stopped me (and everyone else) in my tracks… a little bitty baby hanging on its mother.  It was too cute for words!  I watched as Momma Monkey climbed down the tree and over to the water to grab herself a drink.  Just as I thought for sure there was no way possible the sight could get any more adorable I was proven wrong.  Anyone who argues that animals don’t have emotional feelings needed to see the precious moment we watched.  Momma Monkey walked over to another monkey sitting alone and they threw their arms around each other and embraced in a monkey hug.  It was a moment I almost missed capturing on film because I was too busy “Awwwwwww”ing the precious moment between these two friends.

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Our last stop at the zoo was the Florida Wetlands area.  Here you can see on display our very own wildlife found here in Florida.  There is an aviary with Roseate Spoonbills and Scarlet Ibis, a pair of beautiful Bald Eagles, an Alligator display, and Florida Black Bears just to name a few.  A favorite of so many, including my son now and myself as a kid (and admittingly now) is the River Otter display where you can watch Otters swim and play and glide by you.  They seem to love an audience, even pressing against the glass when people gather to watch them.

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Naturally, no Florida display would be complete without the Florida Panther.  This endangered cat’s population is dangerously low in the wild with only around 100 cats remaining, though this is a serious improvement from the estimated 30 in the early 90’s.  Last march the zoo lost their Panther of 17 years, Colin Patrick, but were fortunate enough to add two new cats over the summer, both orphaned rescues.  The two here at Palm Beach Zoo are still considered kittens, and boy were they acting like it today! They were pouncing at each other, chasing one another, and climbing everything in their enclosures.  In case you’re looking at one of the above photos and thinking “Why is there trash in their enclosure?”, it’s not.  The cardboard box is part of the zoos enrichment program, giving the animals safe objects to play with they they don’t usually have within their enclosure, providing physical and mental exercise. They seemed to love it and be enjoying life.

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IF YOU GO:

This is a great zoo to visit and time of year.  During the summer it is well shaded and has a fountain the kids can play in.  They also offer special events throughout the year after regular hours like overnights and nighttime parties as well as birthday parties and weddings.  For more information, visit them here…

http://palmbeachzoo.org/

Shark Reef Aquarium, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

January 11, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Posted in For the Family | Leave a comment
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I know, Las Vegas probably isn’t what you would expect to find within my blog.  But here we were, in Vegas for my Mother’s wedding (talk about something I never thought I would say), and looking for ways to entertain my 2 year old.  Luckily I had done my homework (and some scouting 3 years before during my last visit) so I knew that on the South end of The Strip, located at Mandalay Bay, was the wondrous Shark Reef Aquarium!  A beautiful, AZA accredited, nearly 1.6 million gallon underwater wonderland which is home to 15 species of sharks and over 2,000 animals.

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The Shark Reef Aquarium offers more than just aquatic life.  Upon entering you will find several species of reptiles, including the rare Golden Crocodile and giant Komodo Dragon.  Of course, if the scaled type isn’t for you, keep on walking, there is much more ahead!

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Once you’ve passed by the reptile area, you’ll find yourself looking at a wall of beautiful tropical fish and sharks.  The fish feel close enough to touch, and if it weren’t for the glass separating you, they really would be.  The animals glide by the glass, they’re not shy at all, and often stop right in front of you.  The children absolutely loved how close they were, but you could see the inner child in all the adults were just as fascinated.

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As you continue on, you’ll walk through a tunnel that will give you a full view all around you.  We thought one of the coolest sights was to see sharks gliding above us and get a good look at their sharky smiles.  It’s an area you can easily spend all day in, but you haven’t even gotten to the coolest stuff yet…

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The next area is a lot of fun for the kids!  There is a tank full of the beautiful and venomous Lion Fish, a tank full of glowing Jellyfish, an Octopus with quite a personality, a wall full of gliding Rays, and everyone’s favorite, the touch tank! Here you have the chance to touch a Sting Ray, Horseshoe Crab, or even a small Nurse Shark.  There is always staff watching over to tell you the best way to greet the animals and answer any questions you might have.

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After you pull your kids (or yourself) out of the touch tank, you’ll be on to the main event – the sunken shipwreck.  Here, you’ll stand inside the sunken ship where you can, at some points, have a full 360* view of the water surrounding you.  This area is home to over 30 sharks, as well as large fish, rays, and sea turtles.  The sharks aren’t shy at all, they will come right up to the glass, wowing anyone nearby.  It’s a place you could easily enjoy all day, and since the sharks are always on the move, you’d never get bored.

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IF YOU GO:

Plan accordingly, you’ll want to allow yourself enough time to enjoy it all!  For more information, visit here…

http://www.sharkreef.com/

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