Lion Country Safari Review

Zoo Review
Lion Country Safari
2003 Lion Country Safari Road
Loxahatchee, Florida 33470
(561) 793-1084

Accreditation:   Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Geographic Focus: Includes animals from 6 of the 7 continents
Large Animals:  Rhinos, Lions, Giraffe, Water Buffalo, Wildebeest, Watusi, Zebras, Eland, Nilgai, Waterbuck, Greater Kudu
Endangered Species:  Endangered  Vulnerable South American Tapir, Sarus Crane, Southern Ground Hornbill, African Spurred Tortoise, Rhino Iguana,  Threatened Southern White Rhino, Rhea, Blackbuck, Goffin’s Cockatoo, Blue Streaked Lory.Chimapnzee, Kulan, White0handed Gibbon, Siamang, Spider monkey, Water Buffalo, Nile Lechew, Cuban Crocodile.
Child watching Ostrich at Lion Country Safari Photo Credit: Erin Franklin
Child watching Ostrich at Lion Country Safari Photo Credit: Erin Franklin

Photo Credit: Erin FranklinTotal Species: 921 species include over 900 individual animal

Kid Friendly Features:  Carousel, Flying Elephant Ride, Kiddie Train Ride, Mini Golf, Giraffe feeding, Lory bird feeding, Budgie feeding, Petting Zoo, Ferris wheel, Safari Splash water sprayground, Water Wars, Camel Rides
Smoking: Smoking in Designated Areas only
CleanlinessVery Clean
Education Programs: School Field Trip Programs, Scout Programs, Toddler Programs, and Birthday Parties.
Research and Conservation ProjectsChimpanZoo Volunteer Program, AAZK (American Association of Zookeepers) projects including Bowling for Rhinos (Rhino Conservation), Cheetah Chili Cook-Off (Cheetah Conservation), Staff Art Show (Benefits winner’s choice of Conservation Charities), Cell Phone Recycling Program.  AZA Rhino Species Survival Plan, Rhino Advisory Group and Chimapnazee Species Survival Plan
Size: Total Acres 320 acres
Green Status and Recognition:  N/A
Price: $26.50 ages 10-64, $19.50 ages 3-9, 2 and under complimentary. Admission includes entry into both the drive through safari and walk through amusement park.
Review: 
Paddle Boat at Lion Country Safari Photo Credit: Erin Franklin

As you pull into the Driveway to Lion Country Safari, visitors are met with what can only be called “King Kong” Gates.  The attendants are always extremely courteous and hand over a CD that will narrate the journey for the entire car and serenade you will sounds and music of the Serengeti.   The Safari is broken up into sections that are separated by gates.  There are rubber band looking things on the ground that appear to discourage animals from walking across them into the next section.

Lion Country Safari Photo Credit: Erin Franklin

In 2005 a fence was put up to protect the lions from the people in the cars and vice versa.  Jennifer Berthiaume Marketing Director at Lion Country Safari explained that the fence was added as a safely measure between the lions and guests.  “It allows the lions to roam more freely and made it possible for additional shade and climbing structures to be built”.  Jennifer goes on to say “We realize that this change may be a disappointment to some of our guests who are accustomed to having the lions come right up to their vehicles; however, we believe that the added safety and other benefits were a necessary compromise. Lion Country Safari offers the largest display of lions in a North American AZA institution. We are proud to have the space to house a full pride of lions (as opposed to just one or two lions) and educate the public about these amazing creatures. With that education, it is important that we respect these wild animals”.

The drive around the Safari takes about an hour or less depending on the speed of the car, but it well worth it to see all the antelope, giraffe, rhino’s and especially for the little kids the Ostrich of all things!  It never fails to amaze us how truly large and powerful these birds are!

The photography opportunities on the Safari drive are limitless as you are surrounded by so many different kinds of animals.  It is a photographers dream!
Don’t think that the drive around the safari is all there is, because there is so much more!  After you drive the Safari you can park your car and go into the walking park.  This area has more animal exhibits and lots of rides for the kids.  There is enough to see and do in the walking park to spend a whole day there alone!  Guests will be able to ride kiddie rides like a carousel and mini train, feed sheep, lorikeets, and a giraffe.  You can ride a camel, go on a boat tour, see lots of animals and generally have a  great time.  If you go the LCS web site you can print out a coupon that discounts $6 per person.
Photo Credit: Cynthia Buckley
Photo Credit: Erin Franklin
Photo Credit: Erin Franklin
Photo Credit: Erin Franklin
Photo Credit: Erin Franklin
Photo Credit: Lion Country Safari
Photo Credit: Lion Country Safari
Photo Credit: Lion Country Safari
Photo Credit: Cynthia Buckley
Photo Credit: Cynthia Buckley
Photo Credit: Cynthia Buckley

Last but not least is the Kampgrounds of America (KOA) located at Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach.  This campsite provides facilities that will keep the family happily entertained at all times.  Lion Country Safari often offers specials for two free passes to the park with a night of camping, and it even has a pool.  The best part is you can sleep right next door to hundreds of animals from over 6 continents. You can hear lions roar and siamangs sing while camping!”  No one will be bored at this campground and Zoo, and parents won’t have to exhaust themselves planning camping activities in advance.

Photo Credit: Cynthia Buckley
Photo Credit: Cynthia Buckley
Photo Credit: Cynthia Buckley
Photo Credit: Cynthia Buckley
Photo Credit: Cynthia Buckley

Take the kids strawberry picking in Delray Beach, Florida

Photo Credit: Erin Franklin
You may have driven past this place a hundred times and you would only think it was a store front in a strip mall!  However, if you walk into the cute little store, you will realize what you have been missing!
Walk through the store (if you can get past all the delectable homemade treats) and out the back door to be greeted with fields of organic hydroponics!
 
The Girls Strawberry U-Pick in Delray Beach, Florida is more than just a strawberry U-pick; it is an experience where children and adults will be thrilled to pick these sweet, juicy organic treats right off the vine.  This tranquil and beautiful farm offers u-pick strawberries in a unique setting.  The strawberries are grown organically and hydroponically.
The hydroponic plants require less bending and kneeling to pick because they are up off the ground.  Those of you who have visited Disney World and seen the hydroponic gardens in Epcot will have a good idea of what to expect.
The experience doesn’t end there.  After you have picked all the strawberries you want, the next activity is to take a walk in Grandma’s Garden.  Here guests have a chance to hang out and relax in a beautiful gazebo, visit with miniature donkeys, tortoise, swans and birds.  I took my parents and there lots of cozy little places to sit and rest, all while being surrounded by bright strawberry artwork.  The Girls also offer Cherry Tomato picking and other vegetables seasonally, and I have got to try it!
Photo Credit: Erin Franklin
Last but not least is the Organic Gourmet Country Store, where you will want to pick up some homemade treats that will make the whole family happy.  You can buy tasty baked goods and of course The Girls perfect hand-dipped and custom decorated strawberries.  This is where my daughter was introduced to chocolate covered strawberries.  She was so happy!

The farm also does walking tours for groups so there is literally something for everyone here.  Don’t miss out on some of the best tasting treats and fun in South Florida.  The Girls Strawberry U-Pick offers barrels of fun for the price of a pound of strawberries.

Photo Credit: Erin Franklin
Photo Credit: Erin Franklin
Photo Credit: Erin Franklin
Photo Credit: David Yates
Photo Credit: Erin Franklin
Photo Credit: Erin Franklin

Palm Beach Zoo Review

Palm Beach Zoo Review
1301 Summit Blvd
West Palm Beach, FL 3333
Palmbeachzoo.org

Child looking at Jaguar at Palm Beach Zoo

Accreditation:   Association of Zoos and Aquariums, World Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Geographic Focus: Tropical Rainforests; Asia, Australia, Central & South American, and Florida
Large Animals:  Jaguars, Malayan tigers, Florida Panther, American Alligator, North American Black Bear, Siamang
Endangered Species: not entire list: Baird’s tapir, Bali mynah, Cotton-top tamarin, Fennec fox, Giant Anteater, Goeldi’s monkey, Golden lion tamarin, Jaguar, Komodo Dragon, Malayan Tiger, Ocelot, Queensland Koala, Red-bellied lemur, Red crowned crane, Red-ruffed lemur, Ring-tailed lemur; Siamang, Spider monkey, Swainson’s toucan, & Yellow-footed rock wallaby
Group of Children looking at Box Turtle
Education Program Photo Provided by Palm Beach Zoo
Total Species: 305 species / 1,404 specimens
Kid Friendly Features:  Interactive Play Water Fountain, Wildlife Carousel, Wings Over Water Bird Show, Wild Things Show
Smoking: Non Smoking Facility
Cleanliness:  Very Clean
Education Programs: Summer Camp, Toddler Workshops, School Field Trips, Outreach Programs, After School Programs, Night Owls Overnight Adventures, Home School Classes, Stroller Safari, Behind the Scenes Tours, Birthday Parties, Teacher Workshops.

Research and Conservation Projects:

Rhino Rearcher from Palm Beach Zoo with Rhino
Rhino Research Photo Provided by Palm Beach Zoo

On Site: Center for Conservation Medicine, Species Survival Plans (SSP), Population Management Plans (PMP), Nutritional Studies in Multiple Species , Avian influenza testing and surveillance,  Goeldi’s monkeys contraception study

Off Site:  Carnivore Conservation Work in South America,  Research and Conservation of Endangered Sea Turtles in Venezuela, Mexico Pronghorn Project,  Wild Howler Monkey Health Evaluation Project, Black Rhino Translocation and Anesthetic Evaluation ( Namibia), White rhino translocation, anesthetic eval. & comparative blood value study ( South Africa and USA ),  Nutritional analyses and comparisons in free-ranging and captive elephants  ( South Africa and USA), Perdido Key Beach Mouse Captive Breeding and Reintroduction Program , Hawksbill Sea Turtle Program, Native Wildlife Rehabilitation Program, Jaquar Species Survival Plan, Development & Validation of Multi-species Field Test for Screening for TB in Wildlife ( Mexico & Brazil).  A Full list and details are listed at http://palmbeachzoo.org/conservation.html

Size: 23 Acres
Green Status and Recognition1st Gold LEED certified zoo animal hospital in the country, Green Non-Profit Certified , Named “Sustainability Leader” by the Community Foundation of Palm Beach/Martin Counties two years in a row
Price:  $16.95 Adult, Seniors (60+) $12.95, Children (3-12) $11.95, 2 and under are free. Group Rates are Available
Easter Bunny with Children at the Palm Beach Zoo
Breakfast with Bunny Photo Provided by PBZ
Review: 
The Palm Beach Zoo is a quick 40 minute drive from Fort Lauderdale.  This 23 acre park has the magical quality of making you feel like you are walking through a lush tropical wonderland.
The Zoo has several sections focusing on geographic areas; each area brings together the exhibits and the pathway landscaping to create the feeling of walking through a nature park in South America, Florida, Asia and Australia.
The Florida section brings you up-close and personal with everglade species like alligators, turtles and all manner of things that slither through the watershed.  A walk through wetlands provides the visitor with the opportunity to watch otters play on water and on land.  Guests can also view a Florida Panther through the windows of an authentic pioneer house, followed by watching flamingos from a rocker on the porch.  This section of the Zoo will transport visitors to life in Florida before cars were rocketing down the I95.
Image of Skittles the ConureThe Asian and Australian sections allows guest to view rock wallaby from inside the exhibit.  Guests will come eye to eye with Kookaburra, Rhea and Tawny Frogmouth Birds.  The crown and glory of this section of the Zoo are the Malayan Tigers.  These endangered species inhabit a beautiful exhibit complete with waterfall and pool and can be seen frolicking in the water on a hot day.  The guest is treated to a misty walk through bamboo pathways once again being transported into another world.
Finally guests are beckoned to walk through the South American section, a tropical Mayan paradise where endangered jaguars sleep in the shade of the overhanging pillars of a scaled down replica of the Temple of 1000 Columns in Chitzen Itza.  This section of the Zoo is home to exotic animals like tapirs, giant anteaters and the rare bush dogs.  Not to mention the beautiful and colorful parrots found throughout the area.
The Palm Beach Zoo is a fun family friendly facility that offers a snack bar, sit down dining, a carousel, animal shows and demonstrations.  The education department offers reasonably priced special programs for kids of all ages including Summer Camp, Stroller Day Tours and Toddler Workshops.  Don’t forget to bring bathing suits for the kids!  The Zoo has a musical interactive water fountain that no child will want to walk by without taking a splash and a dance. 
Children playing in Giant Eagles Nest
Children in Life Sized Eagles Nest
Zoo Keeper presenting a Dingo
Cynthia Buckley Presenting Mick the Dingo
Wood Storks Feeding at Palm Beach Zoo
Photo by Cynthia Buckley
Crowd at Wings Over Water Show
Wings over Water Show
Spider Monkey Island
Trainer Melissa and Wilbur the Sloth
 

Fisher Price Smart Bounce & Spin Pony Review

*****
Description:
The Smart Bounce and Spin Ponycomes with the bouncy pony and a wireless game box that connects to your TV.  I got this for my daughter for her first birthday.  The guidelines say that it is for 12M -24 months and up.  At 1 year old she didn’t really get that there was a connection between what she was doing on the pony and what was going on on the TV.  Luckily there is a setting where you can just bounce on the pony with music and sound effects and that is what she liked most for about 6 months.
Assembly Time:  This to me is the best part!  It was completely assembled!  You just plug it into your TV (2 plugs) and it’s ready to play!
See!  2 Plugs!  Easy!

Value for Money:  Smart Bounce and Spin Pony runs around $90.  There are cheaper ones like the Bounce and Spin Zebra that do not include the TV game portion, however I would advise spending the extra money as it extends the length of time your child will be able to use it.  My daughter is about to turn 3 and still asks to use it at least once a week.  If all we had was the bouncy pony I don’t think she would still be interested in it.

It does require batteries, but they seem to last really well!  I have replaced the batteries in the Pony only once and the box twice, but that was because I forgot to turn it off.  It lasts longer if you do that!
Don’t think that once they get to level 3 that they won’t play the lower levels either.  She still likes to play all the levels.
Age Appropriateness:  Dead on!  Although if your 24 month old is not able to get on and off the pony by themselves you may want to hold off until she can.
Durability:  It is a plastic construction and seems pretty durable.  My kid and her friends have given two solid years of abuse and it still works great.  It does seem to squeak a little more though.
Educational Value: 
Here are the levels as printed on the Fisher Price Website:  They are pretty much dead on for appropriate educational guidelines for the age groups.
12M+ Level 1: Action/Reaction
With every bounce or spin of the roller, baby makes something happen! Hear songs, learn about animals and their sounds, first words, greetings and more.
18M+ Level 2: Learn and Play
As baby grows, so does the learning! Discover letters, numbers, shapes and colors in a fun and engaging way.
24M+ Level 3: Active Learning
Lots of games, lots of active learning! For example: make the pony “jump fences” as you count along and collect rewards.   
Teaches: Game play, Word recognition, Counting, Actions and words, Kinds of weather, Comparisons, and Following directions.

Little Tikes Prep’n Serve Kitchen Review

*****

Melissa and Doug Food Group Crates not included.

This toy comes with a spatula, knife, fork, spoon, butter knife, plate, skillet, cup, phone, hamburger and bun, a stool, ear of corn, a cutting board that fits over the sink and two pieces of fruit.

The doors don’t always close perfectly, but my daughter doesn’t seem to mind. There are lots of places to store play food items so that is great!

There are two slots in the top which look like they could be for plates, however the plate that came with it doesn’t fit. Thankfully the two slices of bread that came with her Melissa and Doug Food Groups fit in them perfectly and she pretends it is her toaster.

When you place the pans on the “stove top” it makes a quiet sizzling sound. I love that because it is not loud enough to drive you crazy, and you know how much kids love noise makers, so it is a win; win for all!

It comes with a 1 year limited warranty. If I ever have to use it I will let you know how that goes.

The kitchen looks great once it’s put together. I should be so lucky as to have such a good looking kitchen!

Assembly Time: It took my husband about an hour and half to complete this project. The directions were fairly clear and the pieces fit together pretty easily. The stickers are a little fiddly however my hubby managed to get them on without ruining any.

Comes with these items and an ear of corn and two pieces of fruit.

Value for Money: This item runs between $80 and $100 bucks. It seems like all the little girls from about 2.5 years find it irresistible. It is 3 days after Christmas and she has not left it alone when we are in the house. I was super happy with the price I paid as I got it at Toys R Us on Black Friday for $59.

Age Appropriateness: The box says age 3 and up. I think this is very accurate. It is narrow and little ones might easily pull it over, however it is very light and wouldn’t hurt anyone as long as you don’t have things stacked on top. It has a small plastic butter knife that is perfectly fine for my almost 3 but a year ago I would certainly of not allowed her to have it. The knife is wide and rounded and does not pose much of a threat. I am very happy with it and satisfied that it is safe for her to play with.

Durability: It is a plastic construction and seems pretty durable. I don’t have any concerns about it not  lasting.

Educational Value: The stickers have numbers and words on the “buttons” and we have been working on showing her what they say and mean. With the addition of the Melissa and Doug Food Groups baskets she can work on sorting and identifying food groups. We have also been working on knife safety rules using the plastic knives.

This is the orange that came with it.
It is like these Melissa and Doug Crates were made for it!
Again, the Melissa and Doug Crates fit great!

Christmas by the Sea Review

Wow, this was a crazy busy event!  The place was packed which made it difficult to let my 2 year old walk around for fear that she would get run over.  That being said, she was out of her mind excited to see Santa in the parade on top of the fire truck!

All and all it turned out be a lovely night.  It was cool for Florida and it felt wonderful!  There were pony rides, the steal drum band, and of course an Elvis Karaoke band that was quit fun to watch.

I know, I know I promised a video blog and I am working on it!  Apparently I am not as talented at movie making as I had assumed.  I will try to salvage something of the video to post ASAP!

I think we are going to check out the lights at Tradwinds park this weekend so I will get back to you on that very soon too.

Happy Holidays!

The Great Scarecrow Exhibit at Flamingo Gardens

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Okay, so we headed out to the Flamingo Gardens for The Great Scarecrow Exhibit on Saturday.  It was so nice to walk around the Gardens in the finally cooler South Florida weather!  What a fun idea!  Flamingo Gardens’ patrons build their own scarecrows and enter them into the contest.  All the scarecrows are  kept on exhibit for the whole month of October.  There were scary ones, traditional ones and even one that used recycled materials in a sort of modern art kind of way.  My 2 year old made it her mission to get her picture taken with each of the Scarecrows that will be on exhibit till the end of the month.
A few updates on the Gardens, the Garden Shop in the front courtyard is closed as is the Fruit Shipping Store and the Snack Bar.  The Snack Bar inside the Gardens next to the Flamingo Exhibit is still open as is the large Gift Shop.
I would love to go to the evening Halloween program, Beware the Lair of the Swamp Witch however the flyers say that it is recommended for 12 years and older, so that leaves us out.  Let me know if you go and post a comment here about it for us.
The gardens will be doing a trick or treat event, Story Time with the Good Witch  for everyone Halloween weekend, which looks like fun.  I will try to get there, but it is a very busy weekend for us.