One of our family traditions is to visit aquariums whenever we travel. It’s so interesting to see which particular animals are highlighted based on where we are geographically. For example, at the Seattle Aquarium, the otters took center stage. In Tampa, it was all about the manatees. And in Denver, there was a lot of focus on freshwater fish that could be found in nearby rivers.
We also love going to meet the animals at zoological parks. Our favorite so far is Jungle Gardens in Sarasota, Florida. You get to feed the flamingos right out of your hand, and for the cost of a donation, we got to hold parrots, snakes, and even an alligator!
It turns out that June is National Zoo and Aquarium month, and while our city isn’t really large enough for a large zoo or any kind of aquarium, we will definitely be making a trip up to Cat Tales Zoological Park for an afternoon of lions, and tigers, and bears…oh, my! (My daughter’s name is Dorothy, so I am obligated to make that joke.)
A day at the zoo or aquarium makes for such a wonderful and memorable field trip for classes or just a great time for families who want to continue learning opportunities during the summer. A trip to the zoo can serve as a lesson in a nearly endless list of subjects such as:
- Weather patterns
- And so much more
In addition, time at the zoo or aquarium expands kids’ thinking. You can ask questions that help kids develop their deductive reasoning skills. (“Why does a chameleon change colors?”) You can imagine what it would be like to live in a totally different climate. (“How does rainfall affect the migration of animals on the savannah?”) Or you can sharpen their skills when it comes to comparing and contrasting. (“What are differences and similarities between turtles and tortoises?”)
If you don’t have a zoo or aquarium near you, that doesn’t mean your kids can’t see some of the world’s most amazing animals in action. Many, many zoos have web cams set up so that anyone can log onto their web site and enjoy the animals’ antics. Here are some to get you started:
- The San Diego Zoo has web cams on their pandas, polar bears, and apes.
- The Smithsonian National Zoological Park has more than a dozen animal cams.
- SeaWorld has a fun penguin cam.
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium has several live web cams to share their animals with you.
- The Houston Zoo has several great animal cams, too!