Friday, June 29, 2012

The Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium Review

We're wrapping up our coverage of our visit to the Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium! Today we wanted to give you a rundown of the features and exhibits that we fell in love with, the ones that will absolutely keep us going back to the aquarium time and again.

1) The touch pond. This one should be pretty self explanatory, because, really, how many chances do you get to touch a star fish? Or a spiny urchin or a limpit? It was also funny to see the difference in the ways people approached the touch pond - some dove their hands right in to pick up and feel every creature while others were more hesitant to put their hand in the water. Blog | Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium Touch Pond

2) The jellyfish tank. We talked about this in our Wednesday post, but the jellyfish tank really was one of the coolest things we've seen. It just sucked you right in, with the lights and the soft music playing in that section. The jellyfish looked so etheral, just floating there. Really and truly, we would have spent hours just staring at that exhibit if we could have. Blog | Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium Jellyfish Tank

3) The underwater tunnel. There were multiple reasons why we loved this part of the aquarium  For one, having the fish swim over and around you reminded us of how it feels to go snorkeling or scuba diving (and gave us a craving to back into the sea)! Two, it's fun to see the fish from below, rather than just from the side or above as with many aquarium tanks. And three, even though there was thick glass between us and the fish, it felt like we were really close to them. One of the best parts of our trip was taking pictures of a manta ray and then turning around to see a shark swim right by our faces! Blog | Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium Underwater Tunnel Blog | Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium Underwater Tunnel

So there you have it, a few of the things we absolutely loved about the Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium. Have you convinced you to visit it yet? If so, you can buy your tickets here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sea Life Fin Facts

Since we're featuring the Kansas City Sea Life Aqaurium on the blog this week, we thought we'd share with you some of the "Fin Facts" we learned during our visit!

Fin Fact #1
Did you know that spiny lobsters have been known to cross the ocean floor in long, single-files lines?

Fin Fact #2
The spiky fins on the lionfish's back are pretty, but also dangerous! The fins are venomous and give a nasty sting!

Fin Fact #3
The scientific name for the sea horse is "hippocampus." Hippo means "horse" and campus means "sea monster."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pic Of The Week - Jellyfish In Space

This week's picture is one we took while visiting the Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium. It's a view of the jellyfish tank there, which we literally could have stared at for hours! It was so hypnotizing, and peaceful. The title of this post comes from the little white specks floating with the jellyfish... it really did seem like they were drifting along in outer space.

The colors you see are coming from the colored lights along the exhibit. They ranged from white to red to blue. It was a fun touch, we thought. Normally we only do one picture for our Pic Of The Week posts, but we had too many great jellyfish shots we wanted to share. Enjoy!

Apologies for the large image sizes, but going any smaller just didnt' do these pictures justice! To read our review of the Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium, click here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Kansas City Sea Life Aquarium

Last week, we finally had the opportunity to visit one of Kansas City’s newest attractions, the Sea Life Aquaruim. And let us tell you, we were impressed (and are already planning for our next trip there)!

One thing that jumped out at us was the easy way that the aquarium blended learning with entertainment. There were “Fin Facts” splashed against many of the walls, teaching visitors things like that the lion fish has a venomous spine on its dorsal fin. There were other displays that showed, rather than told, the facts, like the one with life-sized crab images on it. The images went from the pea crab (aptly named since it is the size of a pea) to the gigantic (and somewhat horrific) Japanese spider crab that grow up to 13 feet in diameter!

The sea life aquarium also does a great job of mixing up the displays. It’s not just a bunch of fish behind glass. There’s that, but there’s also a touch pond where visitors are welcomed to touch star fish, hermit crabs and spiny urchins. There are displays that have special designs so visitors can actually stick their heads inside "bubbles" inside the aquarium.

One of the star fish in the touch pond.

Overall, we were VERY impressed, captivated, entertained and educated by the Sea Life Aquarium and we’re very glad we splurged on the season pass*! This way we can go back all year long to bring our readers (and Facebook fans and Pinterest followers) more great pictures all year long!

*If you live in Kansas City and are considering a trip to the aquarium, definitely check into the annual pass. Price for an individual ticket for the day was about $26, and the price for an individual year pass was $60 (both including tax). If you want to go more than once (and you will) or have a bigger family, it makes sense to get the annual pass.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Klipspringers - The African Rock Jumpers

What is this animal with pointy horns that look like they could easily poke your eye out, balancing so precariously on the side of that mountain? It's a klipspringer, a small species of African antelope.


The word "klipspringer" means rock jumper in African. The klipspringer walks on its hooves, which are narrow and hard-edged - this enables their hooves to dig into the ground, which makes it so easy for these agile creatures to climb rocks. The narrowness of their hooves also lets klipspringers be able to stand on cliffs the size of a Canadian dollar coin (about the size of the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin here in the States).


Klipspringers mate for life and travel in their pairs. They are herbivores, eating the succulent plants that grow in the rocky terrain of the mountains. They never need to drink water because of the plants' high water content.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Animal Facts - The Black Tipped Reef Shark

Time to cue the "Jaws" music! The black tipped reef shark, which lives off the coasts of the Indian and Pacific oceans, prefers to swim in very shallow waters, sometimes not more than a foot deep! They can often be seen swimming along the shore, with their dorsal fin sticking up out of the water.

Learn more about the black tipped reef shark in this blog post from our archives!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pic Of The Week - 3 Headed Giraffe

No, this isn't some weird animal mutation. It's just a great camera angle caught by the photographer! At first glance it seems that this giraffe has three heads, but once you look more closely you realize that it's actually three giraffes standing in a row.

Image via.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Animal Facts - The Large Billed Reed Warbler

Did you know that the large billed reed warbler holds the title of being the "World's Least Known Bird"? Since its discovery in 1867, this bird has only been spotted alive four times, the most recent occurrence being in 2010 in Afghanistan. The warbler lives in remote, sparsely-populated areas, which has contributed to its lack of sitings.

large billed reed warbler
The elusive large billed reed warbler
Read more about the large billed reed warbler and the latest sighting here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Great American Backyard Campout

This Saturday, June 23, the National Wildlife Federation is hosting the Great American Backyard Campout. The organization is encouraging families to get away from their TVs and spend some time in nature - whether it be in your backyard, a campsite, a park or wherever you can park your sleeping bag!

We think this is a great way for families to reconnect with each other, and with nature, which is something that often gets overlooked in the hustle and bustle of every day life. If you need some ideas of what to do while you're camping, we have a few for you!
  • Bird watch. How many different birds can you see/hear? Can you identify any of them? What other animals do you see?
  • Go on a scavenger hunt. Create a list of items for your kids to find: a certain type of leaf, a rock that looks like a (fill in the blank), the longest stick, etc.
  • Lay on a blanket and look at the stars. How many constellations can you pick out?
The Great American Backyard Campout website has a bunch more ideas, including camping recipes, crafts, stories and songs. Go check it out, dig out the sleeping bags and get ready to camp!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Return Of The Short-Tailed Albatross

The albatross, a bird made famous from its role in the poem "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" just might be making a comeback. Once thought to be extinct, and until last year only thought to inhabit a small area of Japan, the short-tailed albatross has been spotted on several Hawaiian islands.

Scientists have concluded that this isn't a new community of short-tailed albatrosses, but rather an existing one that has managed to breed well and cause somewhat of a population surge in the last few years. This is a positive sign to scientists, and conservationists, who think this could be the begining of the return of this rare bird.

The short-tailed albatross once numbered in the millions, making in one of the most prominent alabtross species. But turn of the century feather hunting nearly decimated the species, and it was thought to be extinct by the late 1940s.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Animal Facts: How Elephants Communicate

Did you know that elephants communicate in sound waves that are in such a low frequency that humans are unable hear them? This is called infrasound, and the elephants use it to talk to each other over great distances.

Can you hear me now?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Picture Of The Week - A Friendly Firefighter & Grateful Koala

We found this picture on Tumblr and it has been by far one of the most popular things we've ever posted! This sweet shot is of a firefighter giving water to a koala bear after the Black Saturday fires that ravaged Victoria, Australia back in 2009.

A firefighter gives water to a koala bear after the Black Saturday fires in Australia in 2009.

Seriously, doesn't this almost bring a tear to your eye? We love that this firefighter cares enough about the koala to give him water, and you can tell by the way the bear is holding onto his hand that he appreciates it! It's just so precious.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Animal Facts: Hippo Sweat

How are hippos able to stand out in the hot sun all day and never get a sunburn? Because their sweat is a natural sunblock!

Hippo sweat contains microscopic particles that scatter the light, so it's not concentrated on the hippos' skin. The sweat is also red in color due to orange and yellow pigments, which are able to aborb untraviolet light. While this red sweat helps keep the hippos from burning, it does tend to make it look like their bleeding - not a pretty sight!

Red hippo sweat
This hippo isn't hurt, just really hot!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Folkmanis Puppets Win Parents Choice Awards

A couple weeks ago we posted about a few of our brands that had been recognized by for having cute and realistic stuffed dogs. Now we're proud to brag about another one of our favorite brands, Folkmanis, whose puppets (also very cute and extremely realistic) have been honored by the Parents Choice Foundation in their annual Parents Choice Awards!

American Alligator Puppet: Gold Award
Parents Choice says: "Eerily realistic except for size, this beautifully-constructed 32-inch puppet can be used not only for fun and entertainment but also for curriculum development in science... A printed attachment provides interesting facts about alligators and related folklore. This highly appealing toy may be correlated with numerous storybooks, such as Mercer Mayer's There's an Alligator under My Bed or Maurice Sendak's Alligators All Around. Stylish young practical jokers could even attach a gold chain and carry this puppet as an alligator "purse."

Nibbling Mouse Puppet: Silver Award
Parents Choice says: This six-inch-tall furry mouse has a feature rarely found in puppets: a 360-degree rotating head. The body cavity typically used for hand/finger insertion contains a plastic stick that may be grasped and rotated. Such maneuvering can mimic the shaking head gesture (for "no") or other quick, darting movements... The story "Church and Cheese" is attached, and numerous children's books could be correlated with this lovable critter, such as Laura Joffe Numeroff's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

Little Puppets: Silver Award
Parents Choice says:  The Folkmanis set of "Little Puppets" includes six half-body hand puppets ranging from six to ten inches in height. These tiny but fierce creatures (an alligator, hare, brown bear, polar bear, chipmunk, and lion) all have four "finger openings" that allow puppeteers... to "bite" their own two front legs/paws-or to "talk" and gesture at the same time. All are sturdily constructed with both realistic and cuddly features.

And those are just a fraction of the wonderful, realistic puppets we carry from Folkmanis. Visit their brand page on our site to see all of the animals - from dogs and cats to bugs and even dragons - they bring to life!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Celebrate World Ocean Day

June 8 is World Ocean Day, a day meant to celebrate the bodies of water that link us all together, and to raise awareness about conservation and keeping our oceans clean. Did you know that our oceans account for 71% of the planet, but less than 2% of them are protected?

So how you can help World Ocean Day? Try one of these activities, courtesty of!
  • Organize a beach clean up (or river clean up if you don't live by the coast).
  • Cook a sustainable seafood dinner.
  • Visit an aquarium or marine park.
  • Watch a movie or show that celebrates the ocean: The Living Sea, Coral Reef Adventure, Dolphins, The End of the Line, The Cove, Blue Planet, Dolphin Tale, The Present, the list goes on...

Another way you can celebrate World Ocean Day? Make a donation! Below are a few conservation organizations that are raising money to help fight pollution, overfishing and other threats to our waters.

Animal Fact: Inebriated Bees

Did you know that there's a certain type of orchid that can actually get bees drunk? The bucket orchid of South America produces a potent intoxicating nectar to get the bee drunk. As the bee falls into the slippery slope of the blossom's petals, it’s only way out is through a small opening in the base of the flower. As it squeezes through this channel, it picks up pollen, which it drunkenly drops off when it stumbles into the next flowers stigma.

Careful boys, don't drink too much!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pic Of The Week - Extreme Whale Watching

We come across so many wonderful photos on the web, which we post regularly on our Pinterest boards and Tumblr page, but some times the best pictures never make their way onto our blog. So we're starting a new feature, where we show you our favorite animal photo of the week.

A photographer gets an unexpected close up shot of a whale. Image via.
We hope you like this new segment, and if you come across any outstanding animal photos, please feel free to leave a link to them in the comments!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Water Wars: Giraffes Vs. Camels

Camels get all the good publicity for being able to go weeks in the desert without water (and that IS an impressive feat) but did you know giraffes can actually go longer without water?

Giraffes have a diet of plants and fruit that a has naturally high water content, so they don't need to drink water as often. And when they do, they go all out, drinking up to 12 gallons at one time! With all due respect to the camels, we've got to give some props to the giraffes on this one.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Educational Toys: Safari Limited Toobs

It's a sad truth that educational toys aren't always fun. Although they might have seemed entertaining to the toy developers, they fall flat when presented to actual kids who, if they have to learn, want it to be fun.

The Toobs from Safari Limited do NOT fall into this category. Their realistic mini figurine sets are the type of toys that encourage imagination and play while still presenting educational opportunities. The Toobs cover a variety of themes, from animals to vehicles, dinosaurs to historic humans. Take a look at a few of our most popular Toobs.

Toobs are the perfect toys to take with you anywhere, since the figurines come in a resuable plastic tube for easy and portable storage! They're also great for dioramas or educational projects and presentations. AND, each Toob retails for only $9.98! To see our entire selection of Toobs from Safari Limited, click here.