Think Reptiland is only a warm-weather destination? Think again!
The Jones family recently stopped by the zoo and captured some of their visit on video! We love to see zoo experiences through the eyes of our guests, and if you’re wondering what it’s like to visit the zoo during our “off-season,” just watch the video!
(You could also read about the 5 Advantages of Visiting Reptiland this Winter, but this video does a great job illustrating them!)
We hope this glimpse into the Jones’ visit shows you the many perks of visiting during the off-season . . . and inspires you to come to Reptiland the next time you’ve got a few hours to spare!
After receiving a record-setting 384 entries, we are excited to announce the 2017 coloring contest results!
Selecting a winner is tough when there are so many great entries to choose from, and this year was no exception. It also gets more difficult as we try to select original designs different from years past. That said, we want to thank everyone who submitted an entry! We appreciate having so many options to choose from, and we know how much time and effort goes into completing them.
Here are the results…
Because we can only choose one winner, we like to recognize additional entrants for their exceptional designs. This year, we would like to congratulate the following on receiving Honorable Mention (listed in no particular order):
- Madilyn Shingle
- Nolan Hannan
- Landon Hostetter
- Madeline Miller
- Reagan Boyer
Great job, guys and gals!
And without further ado, the 2017 Paint the Dino Coloring Contest winner is . . . *drumroll*
We love the color palette and shading in Brooke’s design, and we think it will look fantastic painted on Carnotaurus when Dinosaurs Come to Life returns on April 22, 2017! Congratulations, Brooke!
Another HUGE thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s contest. With the most entries—and most creative entries—we’ve ever received, we could not be more pleased with the turnout. We hope you all enter again next year!
(Oh, and be on the lookout for something special from Clyde Peeling!)
Tired of presenting your valentine with the stereotypical flowers and chocolate . . . but struggling with other original gift ideas? Not to worry. We have you covered at the Natural Selections Gift Shop! Check out “What’s in Store” for this Valentine’s Day.
(Ladies: if you’re reading this, we encourage you to stop in and treat yourself to some of these—we won’t tell!)
Show her your love is set is stone . . .
. . . with our gorgeous gemstone jewelry! Our collection is one-of-a-kind and includes pieces from all over the world. Whether she prefers elegant, dainty jewelry or bold statement pieces, we have it all.
Give her candy
Rock candy, that is! These beautiful beaded bracelets, also known as Rock Candy bracelets, are the perfect way to say “I love you.” They sparkle and shine . . . just like your Valentine. The magnetic clasp makes them a snap to put on (literally), and the best part is—no calories or cavities!
Keep it classic with the color of love
Carnelian, burgundy, garnet, rose, wine, ruby—the list goes on and on! No matter the shade, red is an emotionally charged color associated with passion, desire, and love; hence it’s connection to Valentine’s Day! So why not celebrate with a gift that’s the color of love? With our selection of scarves, purses, jewelry, and other gift items, there’s plenty to choose from!
Or make it an adventure to remember!
If your lady likes receiving experiences rather than things, consider giving her something extra special like a date with Al & Henry via our Meet and Feed the Gentle Giants experience. You could even splurge on a romantic Behind-the-Scenes tour for two. And don’t underestimate the experience of a visit to the zoo filled with exhibits, live shows, and animal encounters!
(Then she could even pick out her OWN Valentine’s Day gift in the the Natural Selections Gift Shop. Just a thought.)
Have a happy Valentine’s Day, and we hope to see you soon!
Don’t let winter put a damper on your family fun . . . get out of the house and head to the zoo!
We may not come to mind when thinking of cold weather activities, but after you check out the 5 advantages of visiting Reptiland this winter, we hope that’ll change!
Come on in, it’s always warm here!
Escape the cold in our indoor Exhibit Gallery, where you can see nearly 40 species of reptiles and amphibians under one roof! You might feel like you’re in the great outdoors with our naturalistic habitats, but you’ll be enjoying them all at room temperature.
If you do feel a chill walking from building to building, just head to Island Giants; you’ll warm up as soon as you get inside. Komodo dragons require extreme heat—like 90+ degrees—so the entire building is incredibly warm. You can also catch a Winter Warm-up here, a 30-minute live show that feels like a casual conversation with one of our zoo keepers (and the tropical temps will keep your tootsies toasty)!
Things tend to slow down around here during winter, but that just means we’re able to spend more time with you and your family one-on-one!
Unfortunately during warmer months it’s too busy and crowded for animal feedings, but in the winter, we offer them after every show! So when you’re done warming up with the Komodos, head to the Exhibit Gallery to witness an animal feeding. Since the animals that are fed change with every show, you can watch a different species eat at each visit. (One of the many reasons it pays to be a zoo member!)
And don’t forget to catch an Animal Encounter! At 11:30, 1:00, and 2:30 you’ll get the chance to see animals up-close and ask our experts questions—something only offered in the off-season. #winterexclusive
Because there is a little less to see November-April, we take $2 off our regular admission rates. With the lowered rates and more personal attention, you’re actually getting more of an experience for less money!
That’s right, parakeets! Even though this exhibit was supposed to be closed for the season, you can still experience Parakeet Landing when you visit this winter!*
The birds have a heated night house they can fly in and out of, but the actual exhibit space is not heated. As a result, we were planning to shut down the exhibit for the season. But the more we thought about it, we decided to open it at select times throughout the day so EVERY guest can spend time with our feathered friends!
In addition, because you’ll only pay the off-season rate, you basically get to see this exhibit for free!
Just be sure to wear a warm jacket . . . it’s a little chilly in there!
If you’ve ever visited on a weekend in July, you know that it can get pretty crazy around here . . . While we are always happy to have a “full house,” we know that it can be frustrating for our guests, especially in smaller, more crowded areas of the zoo.
The good news? In the winter, it’s much quieter and more peaceful! There’s no need to hurry so the people behind you can see; there’s no line formed by the restrooms; no hold-ups at the admissions desk; and most importantly, no waiting to see your favorite animal in the gallery! You’re able to take your time enjoying each and every part of the zoo . . . and we hope that you do!
As a small business, we appreciate having guests any time of year, but we encourage you to take advantage of the off-season experience by visiting this winter. We hope to see you soon, but in the mean time, stay warm!
*Please be advised: Parakeet Landing is open daily at select times, however the exhibit’s availability is still dependent on weather. If you are counting on seeing this exhibit, please call us at 570-538-1869 on the day you plan to visit to confirm that it is open.
A similar post first appeared on our blog on November 16, 2015. This post reflects the new offerings and schedule for off-season visits.
Whether you’re buying for an animal lover, a choosy child, or “the person who has everything,” our zoo gifts will take the guesswork out of your holiday shopping . . . and please everyone on your list!
Get Creative: Give Animal Art
The perfect gift for the animal-lover on your list: a piece of art from the Reptiland Originals collection! No two pieces are the same, and they’re priced at just $19.95 and $24.95. Created on quality stretched canvas, this artwork comes ready to display and enjoy.
Not local? Not a problem! We’re happy to pack, wrap, and ship any piece!
Make Someone a Zoo Parent
Congratulations, it’s a . . . zoo animal!
Show loved ones you care by adopting an animal in their name. Our Adopt-an-Animal program makes a great gift for individuals AND families. Choose from 12 different animals with packages starting at just $25. This gift can be shipped directly to the recipient with a personal message from you . . . or even emailed!
Buy Fair Trade
Many items in the Natural Selections Gift Shop are fair trade, and each purchase supports merchants, artisans, farmers, and more in developing countries. Learn more about fair trade.
On top of that, you won’t find these items anywhere else in the area! Our fair trade merchandise ranges from recycled paper ornaments to fine jewelry and spans all price points. Shop fair trade and enjoy unique finds and quality products at reasonable prices—all while supporting communities across the globe.
BONUS: Save 20% on your entire gift shop purchase through December 31!
Give your recipient the gift of FUN with a Reptiland gift card! It never expires, and the recipient has the power to choose how it’s spent, for example:
- Zoo Membership – the gift that keeps on giving . . . the whole year
- Tortoise feeding – meet and feed Al & Henry, our two lovable Aldabra tortoises
- Behind-the-Scenes tour – discover the inner-workings of an AZA accredited zoo
- Birthday party – join our party animals for a WILD birthday celebration
- Gift shop merchandise – from silly souvenirs to African artifacts and everything in between
- or just a fun day at the zoo!
Regardless of how they are redeemed, Reptiland gift cards are always money well spent! To purchase, stop in or call us at 570-538-1869—we’re happy to mail the gift card to you or the recipient at no extra charge! (We’ll even email a printable file to give to the recipient if you’re extra short on time)
Whatever your holiday shopping needs, we’re here to help. Stop in seven days a week from 10am to 5pm to shop in our gift shop, pick up some zoo gifts, or get assistance from our friendly staff!
Have a happy holiday season, and we hope to see you soon!
Looking for more gift ideas? Check out our Holiday Gift Picks!
A comfortable bed in Johannesburg was a welcome sight after a 14-hour flight from JFK. But my group was eager to board yet another flight early the next morning for an additional five hour flight to Windhoek—the capital of Namibia and the starting place for our safari. Namibia is a part of Africa I’d always wanted to visit. In the early 1960s, my late friend Arthur Jones had captured 80 Nile crocodiles—none under 11 feet—in the Caprivi strip near the Zambian border, and I wanted to see whether there were still crocs there in large numbers. There are, but more on that later.
From the airport into Windhoek, we began seeing troops of chacma baboons, greater kudu, red hartebeest, and springbok. A good sign. We settled into the Galton Guest House where we met our guides for a briefing of what was to come.
The next morning we loaded luggage into a trailer towed by one of the two Land Cruisers that would transport us about this large country for the next ten days. We headed southwest, our destination the Namib Desert and the Desert Homestead where we spent the next two nights. An African Hawk-eagle observed us from a tree and a Southern pale chanting goshawk soared on the horizon. The bird life in Namibia is exceptional.
Namibia, I should explain, sits directly above South Africa and is bordered on the west by the South Atlantic; on the east by the landlocked nation of Botswana and the eastern tip of Zimbabwe; and to the north by Angola and Zambia. The diversity of landscape is breathtaking. Some of the highest sand dunes in the world (over 1,000 feet) are in the Namib Desert created by winds off the Atlantic coast. A concentration of iron in the sand increasingly oxidizes in the older, more inland dunes giving them a beautiful pink hue.
Our host at the Desert Homestead cautioned us about the dangers of the desert. Two people had nearly lost their lives the year before having gotten lost without water—and only a short distance from camp! Only by luck had they been discovered by a rescue team. Water is precious in the desert. Thankfully, our group stayed well hydrated and experienced no problems.
We left the Desert Homestead and continued west arriving at the coastal town of Walvis Bay for lunch before following the coast north to Swakopmund. Early the next morning we explored sand dunes outside town where our guides uncovered a well camouflaged Peringuey’s viper and a horned adder—both members of the venomous genus Bitis. We located a shovel-snouted lizard, a Namaqua chameleon, and a web-footed gecko—lizard species adapted to the harsh life in and around desert dunes.
Damaraland was next. Our lodge there was almost invisible from a distance. It had been cleverly nestled amongst the giant house-sized boulders of a kopje. The entire region consists of rugged mountains, dunes, and gravel plains. Animals are surprisingly abundant. On a morning game drive, we found ourselves surrounded by desert elephants.
A large bull began making threatening gestures (ears out, trunk up), and the guides became noticeably concerned. An elephant can easily crush or overturn a vehicle and we decided to make a fast retreat to avoid an attack. The timing could not have been worse. One of the Land Cruisers would not start. Dead battery. Nervously the guides kept an eye on the bull, tied a tow rope, and we escaped a potentially bad situation.
Passing through and over some of the worst terrain imaginable (a road it was not) we arrived at a Himba village.
The Himba people live as they have for hundreds of years. Their small bomas are circular in shape with cone-shaped reed roofs and walls plastered with mud and cow dung. A remarkably cool solution to the intense desert heat.
These are nomadic people, and it was entirely possible there would be no one home after our long tortuous ride, but we were in luck: women, children, and a few young men welcomed us to their village and into their homes.
Himba wealth is measured by cattle, the wealthiest members of the tribe having numerous large herds scattered about the region. Himba women never bathe, even when water is available. Instead, they smear their bodies with animal fat mixed with pulverized red rock. It must be a worthy alternative as we detected no objectionable odor.
We spent the next two nights at Andersson’s Camp just outside Etosha National Park. A water hole off the dining area attracts a variety of wildlife—the most exciting were two young rhinoceroses. After exploring Etosha, we returned to Windhoek to join up with four more friends who would be with us for the remainder of the safari.
From Windhoek we flew to the Caprivi—a strip of land that forms a panhandle in northern Namibia. This is normally a wet area teeming with crocodiles and other wild animals, but the Caprivi had not had significant rain in two years. Our camp, Nkasa Lupala, had been built along a now dry river. In spite of the drought, we saw lots of wildlife. Within the first few minutes after arriving, one of our group discovered a venomous night adder swallowing a toad directly behind one of the parked Land Cruisers.
Nkasa Lupala is owned by an Italian family who have made every effort to leave no carbon footprint. The camp consists of tents erected on elevated platforms, and it is completely solar powered. Simone and his brother joined us for evening meals and answered our many questions. One of which was about elephant poaching. Is it a problem?
Indeed it is. But unlike some African nations, Simone told us Namibia does not have a shoot-to-kill policy. When frustrated Namibian rangers encounter elephant poachers, they chase the poachers across the border into Botswana and notify the rangers there. Why? Botswana rangers shoot to kill. This may seem like harsh treatment, but consider this: poachers are currently killing an estimated 96 elephants a day in Africa. If elephants are to avoid extinction, harsh solutions may be the only hope. Learn more about the 96 Elephants conservation movement.
After two nights at Nkasa Lupala, it was only a few hours to Chobe National Park in Botswana. There’s no way to describe Chobe Game Lodge except to say…it’s posh. Luxury accommodations are $910 a night during the high season and $500 during low season. The five-star lodge is located along the Kwando-Linyanti river system, and we explored the river by boat where we saw Nile crocodiles and watched a family of elephants bathing along the shore. We used electric powered Land Rovers for game drives, and Chobe has plenty of game—lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, hartebeest, impala, kudu, warthog, and springbok to name a few.
From Chobe we crossed the border into Zimbabwe. After settling into our hotel, some of our group took a helicopter tour of Victoria Falls, while others walked above the falls in the mist the following morning. Here the mile-wide Zambezi River drops 354 feet. It is the world’s largest sheet of falling water, roughly twice the height of Niagara Falls.
Truly an impressive sight and a perfect climax to a wonderful safari!
More photos from Clyde’s Safari
Click to enlarge images
Interested in Adventure Travel?
The Winner of our Paint the Dino Coloring Contest is…
Haley Bower, 10, of Wellsboro!
We chose Haley’s design because of its creative details and originality, and we think it will look GREAT painted on Muttaburrasaurus!
Because the subtle shading and colors don’t fully come through in the scanned version above (as they do on her actual coloring page), we wanted to share a more accurate depiction of what the painted dinosaur will look like based on Haley’s design:
Congratulations, Haley! We can’t wait to for everyone to see your design brought to life when Dinosaurs Come to Life opens on April 23, 2016!
With over 320 fantastic entries, it was nearly impossible to choose one winner. That said, we want to showcase five other entries that deserve recognition!
We would like to congratulate the following entrants on receiving honorable mention (in no particular order):
- Lila McEwen
- Makendra Mowad
- Lilyana Sponhouse
- Madilyn Shingle
- Drayven Hinkal
Check out their entries!
Another successful coloring contest in the books. To all the kids that entered: THANK YOU…and keep an eye out for something special from Clyde Peeling!