Frogs Alive

Have a Hoppy Holiday with Frogs Alive

Take a break from your holiday shopping and check out Frogs Alive!

hoppy holiday- frogs aliveThis limited-time exhibit is at the Lycoming Mall through the end of the year. Conveniently located next to Old Navy, it provides a great escape for anyone who needs a time-out from all that shopping–especially the kiddos!

It’s been seen by over 5 million people in big cities across North America, and now people in Central PA have the opportunity to experience it! With over 100 LIVE frogs, interactive exhibits, and educational graphics, Frogs Alive! is a must-see exhibition.

We recently had a group of young students visit, and they had a blast! They enjoyed seeing exotic frogs from around the world and playing with the interactive components of the exhibit. They even got to do a fun frog craft!*

So whether you need a hiatus from holiday shopping or you’re just looking for something fun to do, visit Frogs Alive!, open through December 31, 2014. Call 570.538.1869 for hours.

Have a very hoppy holiday season!

*Craft is provided by the Lycoming Mall and is only offered to education-based groups scheduled in advance. If interested in bringing a group to the exhibit, please call  the number listed above for pricing and availability.

Summer Fun at Reptiland

It’s no secret we’re celebrating our 50th Anniversary this year. We’re halfway through our planned events, and we don’t want the summer fun to end! It’s a good thing we’ve got two more events coming up! In case you missed them, here’s a glimpse of our celebrations thus far.

Summer Celebration Series – Dino Day

What a DINO-mite day! Kids got their faces painted with geckos, frogs, and butterflies; zoo keepers gave special animal encounters throughout the day; and everyone got to take home their own REAL dinosaur bone fragment! A large dino-filled coloring page was a collaborative project for kids visiting that day, and our friends from Sweet Frog, Scoop and Cookie, stopped by too! We also had a special Prehistoric Prize Package drawing that one lucky girl got to take home. It was a beautiful sunny day, and fun was had by all…We can’t wait for the next SCS day, Buggin’ Out!

Cheers to 50 Years

This event was the first of its kind at Reptiland, and we think it was a huge success! Thanks to the Genetti’s sponsorship, we were able to offer tickets for only $25, and the food they provided was amazing; from the passed hors d’oeuvres to the roast beef carving station, everything was fantastic. Also, three lucky guests won a complimentary night in the Genetti’s jacuzzi suite including a full hot breakfast the next morning–an awesome gift to walk away with for sure!

In addition to sampling beer and wine from local establishments, guests also enjoyed rhythmic drumming by Steve Mitchell and folk/rock music by Zac Baggett & Isaiah Britton. Clyde signed copies of his new book, Reptiland: How a Boyhood Dream became a Modern Zoo, and chatted with guests. Keepers entertained everyone with animal encounters and special alligator and Komodo dragon feedings. All of the exhibits were open as well, and guests were encouraged to meander through the zoo to enjoy all that the night had to offer!

We had wonderful exhibitors, superb entertainment, delicious food, and perfect weather, not to mention great company. We hope to host something like this again in the future–we’ll just have to find another reason to have a big party soon…another 50 years is too long to wait!

The summer fun isn’t over just yet–we’ve got two more Summer Celebrations left! Visit us tomorrow, July 22, for Buggin’ Out and on August 12 for Reptiland Safari. Click here for more information on these events. Hope to see you there!

Meet the Team: 2014 Dino Starting Lineup

With March Madness in full swing and the return of Dinosaurs Come to Life in less than a month, we wanted to give you a glimpse at our impressive lineup of dinos for 2014!

Dilophosaurus

dino starting lineupAs the only returning dino, Dilophosaurus is a seasoned vet and fan favorite.  “The spitter” boasts a double-crested head and impressive trajectory of his “poison,” perfect for cooling kids off on a hot summer day. Just don’t mention the movie Jurassic Park—he’s still upset about their inaccurate depiction of him being the size of a dog with girly frills…

Suchomimus

dino starting lineupSuchomimus has a long, narrow snout reminiscent of crocodilians and former DCTL player Baryonyx. Although he’s not the largest in the group, with sharp claws, ferocious teeth, and a prime position within the murky waters of Reptiland, his strategy is intimidation. Thankfully, he’s all “roar” and no bite. He also prefers fish over other meat, so no worries.

Dimetrodon

Dimetrodon is known as the most famous “non-dinosaur” dinosaur, and can be easily identified by the large sail on his back. As the subject of the Paint the Dino Coloring Contest, we’re anxious to see his custom paint job! Classified as a pelycosaur (mammal-like reptile), this guy walked the earth nearly 50 million years before dinosaurs. Don’t let his old age fool you, though…he destroys prey with not one, but TWO types of deadly teeth, hence his name meaning “two-form teeth.”

Triceratops

triceratopsThis three-horned, plant-munching dino is one of the most recognizable dinosaurs of all time and will make a great addition to the DCTL crew! Hailing from the good old US of A, Triceratops has gone up against some heavy hitters. Despite being preyed on by the great Tyrannosaurus rex, we’re confident he’s got what it takes to make 2014 our best exhibit season yet!

Giganotosaurus

giganotosaurusAnd lastly, weighing in at over 17,000 pounds with a length of 46 feet, Giganotosaurus is just that: GIGANTIC! Though no longer considered the largest land predator (thanks a lot Spinosaurus), he does beat out the 3 year, retired DCTL star and former “King of the Dinosaurs,” Tyrannosaurus rex as far as size. Still the largest creature at Reptiland by far, we’re trying to keep Giga‘s ego in check so his head doesn’t get too big (it’s big enough as it is).

 

Oh, and don’t forget about our static dinosaurs and their year-round presence on the Prehistoric Path. Brachiosaurus, Stegosaurus, Coelophysis, Parasaurolophus, and our juvenile T. rex do a great job for us in the off-season!

Check out Dinosaurs Come to Life and witness these dinos in action when their season starts on April 19, 2014!


Great Things to Come in 2014

Don’t succumb to post-holiday/seasonal depression. Yes, it’s still cold and snowy in Central PA, but here at Reptiland, we’re too busy prepping for great things in 2014 to let ourselves get down in the dumps.

Our 2nd annual Paint the Dino Coloring Contest starts today! While our subject for the contest isn’t technically considered a dinosaur (Dimetrodon is a pelycosaur, another prehistoric reptile), we’re anxiously awaiting the submissions we’ll get from all the talented and creative kids out there. So if you know any children 11 and under with a knack for art, who love to color, or have a passion for reptiles, print this coloring page for them and submit their designs for the chance to be chosen as Dimetrodon‘s custom paint job this spring. But hurry–the contest ends February 14! Click here for contest details.

VenomDue to its popularity, Venom: Nature’s Chemical Weapon has been extended through January. This fascinating live show centered around animal toxins features 8 venomous/poisonous animals. Roughly an hour long, Venom educates and excites guests, explaining both the dangers and benefits of these toxins. In case you missed it this fall, come check it out–weekends at 1:30 pm!

22q International FoundationOn Sunday, May 18, 2014 we will be participating in 22q at the Zoo. This worldwide event aims to bring awareness to 22q11.2 deletion, a chromosomal syndrome that is present in 1 out of every 2,000-4,000 live births. No two people affected are the same, making detection and diagnosis difficult. 22q at the Zoo gives families a chance to have a fun-filled day at the zoo, socialize with other 22q families, and help raise the public profile of this little-known syndrome all in one day. We’re happy to support this great foundation, and we’re excited to show everyone a great time on May 18!

July 2014 officially marks 50 years in business for Reptiland! To honor this milestone and celebrate it with our members and visitors, we’re planning a series of special events for this summer. We can’t reveal any of the details yet, but stay tuned–we’re doing it BIG for our 50th anniversary!

Don’t forget to check facebook, twitter, and our website regularly for details on these and many other exciting things to come for 2014. Happy New Year!

 

Venom Starts this Weekend!

Update 12/5/13:  This limited event has been extended through January 2014!

Just in time for Halloween, when ghoulish characters and terrifying monsters are lurking about, we’ve got our own creepy creatures here at the zoo…

Monsters and Dragons and Giants, OH MY!

Gila monsters, Komodo dragons, and a giant cane toad to be more specific, and you can see all of them starting this Saturday at 1:30 pm! Check out Venom: Nature’s Chemical Weapon.* This fascinating live event showcases venomous species in a safe, entertaining format. Featured animals include a variety of reptiles as well as a scorpion and the poisonous cane toad (neither of which are on display here at the zoo!).

Although this show introduces viewers to many widely feared species, it’s also meant to educate people on the benefits of venom, particularly in the medical field. For instance, many know the deadly effects of venom, but did you know that it is also used in several medications as a pain reliever and helps treat various heart conditions?

Venom dispels common myths, highlights the potential animal toxins offer for human medicine, and presents tips for safely enjoying nature in areas where venomous reptiles live. Visit us this weekend at 1:30 (or any weekend through December) to experience Venom LIVE!

BONUS: Get here early and witness a Komodo dragon feeding in our new Island Giants building!

*Featured as our 1:30 pm show only on weekends in November and December; all other show times feature our standard Reptile show.

zulugrass beaded jewelry

Natural Selections Gift Shop Spotlight: Zulugrass

We strive to fill the Natural Selections Gift Shop with fun, educational items for children, while at the same time providing high-quality, unique gifts for adults. One of the product lines we’re proud to carry is Zulugrass.  A member of the Fair Trade Federation, Zulugrass offers beautiful handmade beaded jewelry, and purchasing it supports the very women that make it!  Read how it all started, then come to the Natural Selections Gift Shop to check Zulugrass out for yourself!

Zulugrass

Leading a traditionally pastoral lifestyle, the Maasai people of the Great Rift Valley of Kenya and Tanzania herd cattle and live off the land. Despite modernization and change happening around them, the Maasai continue to keep their culture and traditions alive, adorning themselves with colorful clothing and ornaments.

After a terrible drought devastated the area and killed their cattle, essentially destroying their livelihood, the Maasai men were forced to drive the few remaining cattle miles away in search of better grazing, while the women were left (ill-equipped) to feed, clothe, and support their families.

zulugrass

photo courtesy of leakeycollection.com

Philip and Katy Leakey live among the Maasai, and decided they had to do something to help their neighbors get through the hard times that lie ahead. By utilizing the natural resources around them and the skilled beadwork of the Maasai women, the Leakeys came up with an idea…and Zulugrass was born!

zulugrass beaded jewelryZulugrass jewelry is made from tall, native grass that is dried, cut into beads, dyed in over 200 colors, and strung onto durable elastic. The Leakeys added the touch of Czech glass beads for a more contemporary look with a bit of sparkle. The strands can be worn as necklaces, bracelets, anklets, chokers, and even belts!

zulugrassWomen began harvesting blades of grass one at a time for the unique handmade jewelry. Word spread of the opportunity that Zulugrass presented, allowing women the flexibility to bring their babies and toddlers to work and earn money for each piece of jewelry they made. Soon, women were walking as far as 2 hours each way to take advantage of this!

Zulugrass continues to grow, and now over 1,400 Maasai women are making Zulugrass, using their skills to support their families while maintaining the integrity of their traditional lifestyle.

Zulugrass is a fair trade product that supports the local economy of the Maasai people in Kenya.  For more information on Zulugrass jewelry and other fair trade products they make, visit www.leakeycollection.com.

National Zoo Keeper Week

In honor of National Zoo Keeper Week, we’d like to take some time to recognize all that our amazing zoo keepers do!

zoo keeper appreciation week

Many people probably think of zoo keepers as having the best, most fun job because they get to “play” with all the cool creatures in the zoo; in reality, their job is much more than that and requires lots of hard work!

Our keepers feed and care for all the animals (including hundreds of off-display animals) every single day of the year–even holidays!  This also includes cleaning up after them…and that can be a pretty messy job at times.  When they’re not caring for the animals, they’re showing them off to visitors in our Program Center, introducing them to people for special animal encounters in our exhibit gallery, or educating visitors about them throughout the zoo.  And let’s not forget about where the animals dwell: the exhibits themselves.  We do our best to keep all of our exhibit areas clean, neat, and looking good for our guests.  The staff responsible? Yup, you guessed it– ZOO KEEPERS.

Tending to the animals, exhibits areas, and visitors keeps them busy enough, but in addition to that, our zoo keepers also transport various animals for off-site lectures (assembly programs) for schools, clubs, camps, etc.  They present a 45-60 minute program with live animals, then trek back to the zoo to unload everything.  While we know they enjoy interacting with new people in new places on these little “field trips” away from the zoo, off-site lectures still involve a lot of work for our keepers.

Last but not least, our keepers travel (on a rotating basis) throughout North America to manage and maintain our various traveling exhibits.  For 6 weeks at a time they stay in an unfamiliar city, work 7 days a week, and care for the animals and exhibit while it’s on display at another institution.

Being a zoo keeper requires enthusiasm, patience, knowledge, and an unbelieveable work ethic; our keepers possess all of these traits and always fulfill their duties with a smile.  We’ve got a great team of zoo keepers here, and while we appreciate them year-round for their dedication, we’re happy to say a big THANK YOU to all of our keepers as a part of National Zoo Keeper Week!  “Keep” up the great work!

The 5 Best (or Worst) Zoo Escapes

Last Tuesday, news of the missing red panda named Rusty rocked Washington (and the rest of the country) when the raccoon-resembling mammal escaped from the National Zoo in D.C.  Twitter was ablaze with tweets from stuffy politicians to humble animal-lovers, all bearing the same “#redpanda” reference.  After hours of news coverage, social media frenzy, and the National Zoo’s frantic search, Rusty was eventually located and returned to his rightful home.

In honor of Rusty’s recent retreat, we put together a list of the 5 best (or worst) zoo escapes.  Our personal favorite is the last one, but we’ll let you be the judge.

San Diego Zoo

5.  Escape Artist Extraordinaire–  Ken Allen, nicknamed “Hairy Houdini,” was a seasoned pro at the art of escaping; starting in the 1980s, Ken successfully escaped numerous times from his enclosure.  His deft escapes were so clever (and frequent) that his orangutan friends eventually learned his tricks of the trade and began freeing themselves as well!  Because of this, Ken quickly gained notoriety and celebrity status in San Diego, complete with t-shirts, his own fan club, and bumper stickers that read, “Free Ken Allen.”

gothamist.com

gothamist.com

4.  The Long Island Takeover of 1935– Frank Buck, an exotic animal collector, had his own animal park on Long Island where 170 Rhesus monkeys escaped from in 1935.  A plank of wood was left over a moat surrounding their area, inciting their breakout; naturally, chaos ensued!  The local law enforcement received countless complaints of “monkey business” throughout the island with these creatures climbing on houses and causes minor (and harmless) disturbances.  As a token of his appreciation for anyone willing to help recapture the escapees, Buck offered a reward for the missing monkeys– a season pass to his zoo!  Read more here.

Mike Burton/The Advertiser

3. Australian Love Triangle– In 2008, Satara, a 2 ton, 18 year old rhino stormed out of his enclosure in a jealous rage when his mate Yhura “left him” for a younger male.*  Satara fathered Yhura’s first baby in 2005, but apparently wasn’t up for fathering a second, hence the pairing of Yhura with another (younger) male.  The heartbroken Satara eventually made his way back to his pen after his anger (and jealousy) had subsided later that afternoon, and thankfully, minimal damage was done to other enclosures within the zoo.  *According to reports by zoo keepers at the Monarto Zoo in Australia.  Read more details of the sordid affair here.

courtesy of Japan's Coast Guard

Japanese Coast Guard

2.  Sayonara, Suckers– Just last year, a one-year-old Humboldt penguin escaped from his harborside residence at the Tokyo Sea Life Park in Japan.  Keepers at the park went on daily searches, but were unsuccessful in tracking him down.  After three months, and several reported sightings of the flightless fugitive swimming happily in the Tokyo Bay, a keeper at the aquarium finally spotted him walking along the bay.  The brave little penguin was ultimately recaptured by the keeper, and despite fears of radiation contamination in the water, the penguin appeared to be happy and healthy upon his return to the park. Click here to read more about this penguin’s 3 month Tokyo Bay vacay!

Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society

1.  The Reptilian Recluse– Last but not least, the infamous (and nameless) naughty little Egyptian cobra that escaped from an off-exhibit holding cage at the Bronx Zoo’s World of Reptiles.  Unclear of exactly how the sneaky snake got out, the World of Reptiles was closed while zoo staff searched for the venomous reptile.  According to Jim Breheny, Director, snakes are “shy, secretive creatures” and this one “would feel vulnerable and seek out a place to hide and feel safe” upon leaving her enclosure.  Fortunately, Mr. Breheny was absolutely correct; the 20 inch snake was discovered a week later in a nonpublic area of the Reptile House coiled up under a series of pipes and other equipment.  These days, you can catch her updating her twitter account on a regular basis @BronxZoosCobra (she’s got nearly 200,000 followers, too).  Find out more about how she was lost and found.

 

Visiting the Galapagos Islands

P1010446

Our plane touched down an hour late on Baltra – one of 14 major islands that make up the Galapagos archipelago. The Baltra landing strip was built by the United States during World War II, and now serves as the primary means for visitors to arrive on and depart from the islands. We paid our entrance fee into Galapagos National Park, and soon we were on our way to meet our boat, the Monserrat. Our crew greeted us with smiles, Pisco Sours, and took our luggage to our cabins. While we ate a late lunch, the boat began our week long cruise.

The Galapagos Islands are owned by Ecuador and straddle the equator 600 miles west of the mainland of South America. Each island is an exposed volcanic mountaintop –older ones being relatively flatter due to wind and water erosion. Newer islands are mountainous, with some volcanoes still erupting periodically. When Charles Darwin spent a month here in 1835, he wrote that from the water the land looked most uninviting, but the ever-curious Darwin explored four of the islands during the voyage of the HMS Beagle. He discovered that each island was home to many unique plants and animals. Not only were most different from those found on the mainland, but many were even different from one island to the next. In some cases, they are in view of one another. This seemed strange indeed, and although Darwin did not come up with his theory of natural selection during the voyage, as is widely believed, it is obvious from his notes that he suspected the islands might provide answers as to how new species are created. How was it, he wondered, that populations of mocking birds, finches, and giant tortoises could differ so much from island to island? They were obviously related, but different enough on some islands to be considered a separate race or species. Two years after his five year voyage his ideas began to coalesce, which led to his revolutionary book, On the Origin of Species in 1859.

And now, our group of nineteen people from Pennsylvania and Delaware found itself retracing some of Darwin’s footsteps. We visited two islands each day and saw wild roaming 500-pound tortoises, land iguanas, marine iguanas, lava lizards, sea lions, tropic birds, hawks, boobies, and a myriad of other species. Snorkelers swam with white-tipped sharks, green sea turtles, and untold numbers of beautiful tropical fish.

Galapagos Islands

The islands are hot and usually covered with volcanic cinders or rocks. On many islands we went ashore on, there were magnificent beaches with sands that ranged in color from black to green to white. Plant life is fragile; rules about where visitors may walk were strictly enforced, but there was never a need to leave the path to see animals. They’re everywhere, often lying or nesting immediately on the path at your feet.

Due to the heat, hikes were taken at a slow pace. Our knowledgeable guides interpreted the natural history and answered questions. After we completed our walk, we loaded back into our dingy (called a panga), which motored us back to the Monserrat for lunch/dinner.

The food aboard the Monserrat was well presented and delicious. There was fish, poultry, beef, and fresh fruit dishes that concluded with wonderful desserts. The crew catered to our every need. Evenings were spent over wine, beer, mixed drinks, word games, and good conversation. The only near disaster occurred when our group discovered we had wiped out the boat’s supply of cabernet halfway through the cruise! The solution was near at hand: a National Geographic boat anchored next to the Monseratt had an extra supply, so our group abandoned any immediate thoughts of mutiny.

We returned to the wonderful Mercure hotel in Quito where we had started our adventure ten days earlier. From there, it was back to Dulles Airport, and then home.

I have led groups of visitors to the archipelago eight times over the past 20+ years, but  I have never tired of this magical place. In fact, I have another trip planned for late February 2014. Hope you join me.

-Clyde Peeling