Posts Tagged ‘wildlife tours’

6 Things: Our National Parks

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

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, including our new America’s National Parks tour, a journey through 5 breathtaking National Parks in one phenomenal vacation.

What’s your favorite National Park? Please share.

Denali, Alaska’s Big Five

Thursday, July 1st, 2010
A hungry grizzley bear having a snack. Photograph by Roman Kruywczak

A hungry grizzly bear having a snack. Photograph by Roman Kruywczak

The Athabaskan people recognized Mount Denali, the massive  peak looming over a 600 mile long mountain range, as the “High One.” But it’s the animals surrounding the mountain that many people travel from all over the world to see. There are 39 known mammals that live in the park, but many come to see what are known as the Big 5 – moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, and the grizzly bear.

For those of us who love cuddly teddy bears there’s the question, “Are real grizzly bears the same way in real life?”

Definitely not.

The grizzly bear is actually one of the most solitary and aggressive of all the bears. Due to their large size, they are unable to climb trees like the smaller black bear, and instead must stand their ground. A small grizzly may weigh about 300 pounds, while bears living in coastal areas can weigh as much as 1,200 pounds. When bears are competing for food, they may become even more irritable.

But who is the most dangerous of all? The Mama Bear. 70% of human fatalities when encountering a grizzly are by a female grizzly protecting her young. Should you ever meet a grizzly bear, it would be best to respectfully keep your distance.

What wild animal sighting will you always remember? Tell us your story.

There’s still room on our Alaska’s Best: Denali and Kenai Fjords tour leaving this August. Maybe you’ll see all of the Big Five.

Video: Caring for baby animals at the National Zoo

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

We’ve had a veritable baby boom at the Smithsonian National Zoo this summer! In a 24-hour-period between July 9 and 10, 2009 a clouded leopard cub, a Przewalski’s horse, and a red panda cub were all born at Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, VA. All three species are endagered, so we were overjoyed to be welcoming new animals.

Here, check out video of past Smithsonian Journeys Study Leader and National Zoo Veterinarian Luis Padilla talking about all the excitement.

Can’t get enough animals? Join us on one of these wildlife tours.

If you could be any animal, what one would you be? Share below.