Posts Tagged ‘national zoo’

How to Impress Your Kids

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
Amani, the National Zoo's two year old Cheetah, can change direction in midair while chasing prey. Photo Credit: Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Amani, the National Zoo's two year old Cheetah, can change direction in midair while chasing prey. Photo Credit: Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Every family vacation is an opportunity for parents to show off how much they really know about the world to their kids. We all remember dozing off in the back of the station wagon to our own parents’ teaching moments. This year, we’re introducing the Destination Smithsonian program, where families have the opportunity to experience the Smithsonian in a unique way. On our Destination Smithsonian: Multi-Media Photojournaling  package, kids ages 9-12 will be able to participate in photography workshops using their own digital cameras in the mornings and then share their knowledge with their parents on family excursions, like to the National Zoo, in the afternoon.

Which makes a parent wonder, “What kernels of knowledge will I have to share with my kid?”

To make sure you are prepared to impress, here are some crazy facts you can whip out while exploring the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park.

1. Bats can eat up to 3000 insects in one night! They are also the only mammal that can truly fly.

2. A large python can grow up to 20 feet long and can eat a goat whole. Plus, the females are usually bigger than the males.

3. There are some species of frogs that can glide up to 50 feet through the air. Other frogs, like the Poison Dart Frog, have toxins in their skins that can kill it’s predators, including small mammals and even humans.

4.  It is difficult to distinguish a tiger from a lion without it’s fur,  but the tiger is the only cat with striped fur.

5. Some hummingbirds are so tiny, they weigh less than a penny.

If you have a child that loves photography, check out Destination Smithsonian: Multi-Media Photojournaling in Washington, D.C.

What’s your favorite quirky animal fact? Share Below.

Cute Alert! Two Baby Clouded Leopards Born on Valentine's Day

Thursday, February 25th, 2010
 
The National Zoo's Front Royal Campus welcomed clouded leopard cubs on Valentines Day- Feb. 14, 2010. Photo credit: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo
The National Zoo’s Front Royal Campus welcomed clouded leopard cubs on Valentines Day- Feb. 14, 2010. Photo credit: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The National Zoo is proud to announce the birth of not one, but two adorable baby boy clouded leopards born to Mom Jao Chu and Dad Hannibal! The babies were born at the Zoo’s conservation campus in Front Royal, VA, 16 minutes apart on Valentine’s Day. Each weighed little more than a half pound at birth. They join siblings Sa Ming(“brave warrior”) and Ta Moon (“mischievous child”).

 
Their parents, Jao Chu and Hannibal, are native to Thailand, but due to deforestation in the region their species was listed as “vulnerable to extinction.”  The family is currently hoping to upgrade their home due to their growing family. The facility they currently reside in was built in 1911, so the National Zoo has launched a campaign to raise $2 million for a new facility. The updated habitats for each breeding pair will include a climate-controlled and quiet indoor area attached to two 20-foot-tall climbing towers to simulate their natural forest environment. The current facility has done an outstanding job with 76 clouded leopard cubs being born in Front Royal since 1978.

You can visit family friends Tai and Mook on the Asia Trail at the National Zoo and learn more about clouded leopards from the Smithsonian Channel’s Ghost Cat: Saving the Clouded Leopard.

Vist the homeland of the clouded leopard in Thailand! Book by February 28th and save $500 on our Treasures of Angkor Wat and Vietnam tour.

What is your favorite baby animal? Monkeys? Pandas? Seal pups?

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
Kids will make plenty of new friends at Destination Smithsonian. Photo: Smithsonian Associates

Kids will make plenty of new friends at Destination Smithsonian. Photo: Smithsonian Associates

 At some point, every child has to write an essay on what they did during their summer vacation. What will your child say? This year, we are introducing Destination Smithsonian - vacation packages that bring families to Washington, DC. Both parents and kids have a unique chance to explore the museums at their own pace. In the morning, kids ages 9 through 12 have a great time during hands-on workshops led by top educators while parents explore the Smithsonian independently. After lunch, families explore the museums together with our Smithsonian experts. Imagine the dinner table conversations at the end of that day!

Exploring Extremes: From the Ocean Floor to Outer Space is a unique opportunity to explore some of our iconic objects in our museums, such as our Ocean Hall at the National Museum of Natural History and Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega at the National Air and Space Museum. Kids can visit our famous Giant Pandas, Mei Xian and Tian Tian, at the National Zoo. But families also have the extraordinary opportunity to see nature at work at our lesser known Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland. Here, kids will become scientists while learning about our treasured Chesapeake Bay.

Every child should have the chance to experience our nation’s capital, and doing it with Smithsonian creates an experience that families will treasure long after summer’s over.

Learn more about Exploring Extremes: From the Ocean Floor to Outer Space.

How old were you when you first visited the Smithsonian Institution?

Little-Known Facts About Lions

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

You know what they say—”Know before you go.” Here are five interesting facts about lions, to get you ready for that Tanzanian safari  you’ve always wanted to take.

Male lions are responsible for protecting the pride from predators. Their manes darken as they age.

Male lions are responsible for protecting the pride from predators. Their manes darken as they age.

  • Young lions have spots, which fade as they mature.
  • Lions at the Smithsonian National Zoo are fed beef and horsetails once a week to keep their teeth and jaws strong.
  • As recently as 10,000 years ago, lions roamed across the world from North and South America to Europe, Africa, and Asia. Today, they live only in the southern Sahara, South Africa, and India.
  • Ancient images of lions can be found in the Lascaux caves in France.
  • Lions are highly social animals, and live in a matriarchal society. Female lions in a pride work together to hunt and care for their cubs and are known to synchronize birth cycles to make cub care easier.

Ready to see some lions up close? Join Smithsonian Journeys for a Tanzania Safari.

What’s your favorite big cat?

Travel Hit List: Our National Parks

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

There’s hardly an American tradition more venerable than a long, hot road trip to one of our national parks. Families have been experiencing the wonders of the natural world this way since Yosemite was designated as the world’s first national park in 1906. Since the weather’s getting a bit cool for hiking in the mountains, today we’ll take an armchair tour of our nation’s natural treasures.

Yosemite Falls over Merced River. Photo: Anton Foltin

Yosemite Falls over Merced River. Photo: Anton Foltin

Read: How people are working to preserve the natural soundscapes in our national parks from Smithsonian Magazine.

Hear: American Favorite Ballads, including Shenandoah, Home on the Range, and This Land is Your Land, performed by Pete Seeger from Smithsonian Folkways.

Watch: Excerpts from the new Ken Burns documentary – The National Parks: America’s Best Idea from PBS.

Eat and Drink: Did you know that you can bring your own picnic to the National Zoological Park? BTW, no feeding the animals!

Check out: Excavations by geologists in our national parks (and elsewhere) have unearthed much about prehistoric climate change. Our interactive online program teaches you how to use 55 million-year-old leaves to gauge temperature change, from Smithsonian Education.

Go: Now is a great time to book a journey to our National Parks.

What’s your favorite childhood memory in a National Park or other protected area? Share below.