Monday, September 8, 2014

Another day at Southwick's and a night of Legos

  We headed to Southwick's zoo today for a fun field trip day.  However, we've been there so many times I found myself wondering if they could possibly learn anything new this trip.  I worried we might be "wasting" our day by not really learning much of anything.  Not all that surprising I was wrong.  We learned plenty and had a really nice time walking around enjoying the zoo and the beautiful weather. 
    Evan started telling me the names of the continents (or countries if he knew them) that each animal comes from based on the maps.  We heard lots of animal noises today and many were animals that we had never heard making sounds.  The tapirs let off little squeaks that reminded Alec of squeaky toys.  We heard the African Crowned Cranes making honking noises and a small monkey that repeatedly sounded a bit like it was coughing up a hairball (though it wasn't; it was busy chasing around a mother monkey and baby that were letting off other higher pitched sounds). 

   We saw lots of baby animals too.  We learned that baby tapirs have stripes unlike the adults.  We saw a baby sloth, a lot of baby monkeys and watched a baby chimp play peek-a- boo with her blanket (and Evan remembered that the toys for animals are called "enrichment").  We heard a baby ring tailed lemur making noises and it reminded us all of the sounds kittens make that sort of "mew" sound.  The boys just love watching the babies and how they interact with their parents or the rest of the group.  We also learned that baby tapirs are called calves too. 
See the baby sloth?  He's pretty cute. 

The baby tapir follows mama all around

The baby chimp is under the blue blanket.  She kept covering her head up and ripping it back off. 

     Lots of animals were active and up close in their cages, eating their food.  One rambunctious monkey threw his carrot at us!  Evan commented that all the prairie dogs eating together looked like "duplicates of one another."  I thought that was a pretty impressive vocabulary word for a 6 year old.  We had so much fun watching them eat and seeing how fast their little mouths and hands moved. 
They weren't such duplicates by the time I took the photo. 

    
This little Wolf's Guenon threw his carrot at us. 
  
This is the first time we've seen the faces of these porcupines!





    We watched the bird show and learned some interesting facts about parrots.  Since they can live up to 60 years Ian told me if he bought a parrot right now he'd be 70 by the time the parrot died!  We got to watch the Macaw climb a rope and slide down the pole like a firefighter.  We learned that they'll use their beaks to help them climb to the top of their vines in the jungle.  Each of the boys got a turn to hold one of the parrots either on their arm or on their heads. 




Listening to the little bird say "thank you"

Watching him climb up the rope

Learning about hyacinth macaws

    The boys wanted to take the train ride and go on a few of the carnival rides to I made them figure out the cost of the tickets.  Once we realized it would be $40 for us to ride the train we decided it wasn't worth it!  They played at the playground instead.  Evan finally conquered what we call the corkscrew.  He was a bit too timid to try sliding down it last year since his legs were so much shorter then.  This trip I could hardly get him off of it!  He was so proud of himself.  Sometimes it's the little things in life. 


  


















      The zoo crew was busy working on a new structure and Ian watched them putting up the poles, nailing in the caging, and working with the machines.  He told me he thought they used screws for everything and he was surprised they were using nails.  We talked about the difference between nails and screws and the advantages of each (as much as I could recall from when we built our house).  Evan tried reading quite a few signs today and pointed out the unusual makeup of the letters on the Earth Ltd. building.  Alec learned a few new facts about the three banded armadillo and impressed two new zoo crew workers with his knowledge of animals, facts and terms.  He's always encouraged to put that knowledge to use as he gets older. 
   We saw some new animals too.  We learned about the Black Crested Mangabey.  The boys found his black crest funny since it looked like a Mohawk. We also were able to read all about the Cotton Topped Tamarin that we saw last time.  This is a new exhibit the zoo built this year and I don't think the sign was up last time we visited.  They were adorable and so small!  We were dismayed to learn that they are critically endangered. 
See the Mangabey's Mohawk? 

Aren't the tamarins cute?



















    Ian asked Alec what "threatened" & "vulnerable" meant when it was listed on the animals signs and Alec explained how that meant the animal was close to becoming endangered.  He was able to give a good explanation for a distinction between the two words and then went on to list the various stags up to extinct.  We also had many wonderful talks about the feasibility of adding pets to our house.  The boys fell in love with the guinea pigs and they've often talked about parrots, hedgehogs and various other animals as pets.  We talked about the time, care, money and involvement of owning pets.  We also talked about what pets are nocturnal and therefor may not be as playful during the day. 
The guinea pigs were so funny; burying themselves in the hay and chasing one another around
   The boys were quite excited to see the rarely seen spotted hyena.  Often the exhibit appears to be empty but today we noticed it's head sticking up out of the grass.  As we passed by we discovered that the dog was following us and not taking his eyes off of me.  Alec remarked that my striped skirt might be making the hyena think I was a zebra and therefor pretty tasty.  While not a comforting thought I had to give him credit for such a plausible idea. 
Here he is back in his enclosure

He walked right up to us and kept pace with us as we walked away. 
   In the car we finished listening to The Son of Neptune and the boys asked me to stop at the library on the way home.  We picked up the next book on CD in the series; The Mark of Athena and started that on the way home.  We also picked up a few more books and some movies.  Once home the boys spent all afternoon in their rooms working with Lego pieces.  Evan and Alec worked on finishing up the sets Evan got for his birthday on Saturday night and Ian worked on building a two- story garage from his imagination.  He proudly showed us the bathrooms, kitchen, living room and bedroom; complete with furniture! 
The start of Ian's garage

Almost done-- from the front

Taken from the top looking down.  Starting in the top left corner
is the bedroom and mini bathroom complete with whirlpool tub, then
there's a space for the stairs and the living room with the black TV, blue
couch and gray coffee table.  The bottom right is the kitchen and table and
he's planning on putting in a second bedroom with all the extra space in that
tan area. 

Lego Chima Ice fort complete with trap door, moving
staircase and ejector stair. 

The Ninja Turtle's lair-- once completed they played
all night with the sets and the new characters. 

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