Field Trip Ideas, Nature, Science/Math

Welcome to my LAIR

Geckoes and vipers and toads. Oh my! For children fascinated by frogs or stunned by snakes, the LA Zoo’s new LAIR (Living Amphibians Invertebrates and Reptiles) exhibit is a delight. The LAIR features more than 60 species, many endangered, in two buildings.

The LAIR is home to a gray’s monitor, a rare, fruit-loving lizard who lives in the Philippine forests. Also, the brightly colored Fiji Island Iguana makes its home in the LAIR. Zoologists aren’t sure how they evolved, but believe they may have originated with green iguanas who hitched a ride on debris and floated across the Pacific from South America.

Visitors also get a behind-the-scenes view of daily reptile care. Keepers prepare food, store eggs and care for young reptiles in a glassed-in room. And in the crocodile swamp, you can watch keepers feed the false gharials, a southeast Asian crocodile. (Sadly, they are feeding him our state bird — quail!)

If you love reptiles and amphibians, check out these wallpaper images from the LA Zoo’s site.

Cultivating curiosity, Field Trip Ideas, Nature, Science/Math

In praise of museum memberships

Yesterday we went to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. After having a membership both there and at the LA Zoo for a couple of years now, I’ve become a big fan of membership. Here’s why:

  • If I have a membership, I have to go. I am notoriously thrifty. If it takes me two or three visits to see a return on my investment, you better believe I’ll be visiting the requisite two or three times. Membership provides an incentive for taking the kids every couple of months. We pack a picnic lunch, and it’s practically free (if you don’t count the gas money).
  • We don’t have to see it all every time. If I’m at a new museum, and I know I won’t be back for years, I try to see every single animal, painting, etc. It can be exhausting, but I just hate to miss anything. Membership offers the flip side: we visit over and over again, so we can see as much or as little as we like each time. Today we skipped whole galleries, because it was super crowded, but we watched the sea lion and seal show for the first time, and saw the scuba divers feed the tropical fish. Finley spent a good 15 minutes listening to various whale songs at a kiosk. We didn’t see the otters or the penguins at all. That’s ok, because we’ll be back. As members, we have more freedom to let the children’s curiosity be our guide.
  • As a writer, I love to visit the gift stores repeatedly and see what kind of books are for sale. Now that the aquarium has installed a new polar regions exhibit, there were lots of new books about the Arctic and Antarctic. Visits always generate at least a book idea or two.

So yes, the gift store discounts are nice. The member events can’t be beat. But I love our memberships because they guilt me into visiting; they let our curiosity be our guide; and these visits are always a source of writing inspiration. Do you have a favorite museum or other cultural attraction your frequent?