Thursday, June 20, 2013

June is National Zoo and Aquarium Month

by Candice Bizzell
     In the month of June, we can celebrate local treasures that are uncommon and just a little out of the ordinary. Many people don’t know that June is National Zoo and Aquarium Month, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t honor it.  We can make our own celebrations.
     You have a chance to take National Zoo and Aquarium Month into your own hands.  Go visit the Aquarium or Zoo. The Charleston’s aquarium is small but will take you from the mountain forest streams, through the piedmont and salt marshes all the way to the oceans through their educational exhibits.  In particular, the mountain forest exhibit displays some river otters that are highly active and addictive to watch. The general admission price for the South Carolina Aquarium is $24.95 per adult or one can opt to purchase the member pass for and individual is $100. With the member pass you get more for your money. If you visit the aquarium four or more times throughout the year, you get what you pay for.
There are also special programs and events for members. For example, members only one can take a “one-of-a-kind boat tour around the Charleston Harbor," where, according to their website “Briana Kloc, with NOAA's marine mammal sentinel project, will be presenting information on local dolphins and the environmental impacts they are facing.” This event took place on June 14th.  Children ten and older learned about dolphins and how the researching them helps humans.
      For non-members, the aquarium offers daily shows and in the month of June they had Father’s day at the Aquarium, where fathers got in free with a paying guest.
      Even if you don’t go for the shows and events, the South Carolina Aquarium has many other great things to see. They boast about having the “Jaw Dropping” albino alligator in their blackwater swamp exhibit. And they are also proud of the newly renovated saltmarsh area where you can view birds and wildlife from in the saltmarsh aviary and feed the stingrays.
       The Aquarium also features an exhibit they call “The Madagascar Journey,” showing off their lemurs… those cute little creatures in the ever-popular kids movie Madagascar. The Aquarium sometimes features a “special showing of the movie Madagascar” in the lower gallery of the Great Ocean Tank. The exhibit has many interactive areas for kids to get a personal look at the lemurs and other wildlife at the exhibit. More events and daily shows are listed on their website at

      Another option close by is The Columbia Zoo.  Although a drive, it is rated one of the best zoos in America. Located in Columbia, SC it is roughly an hour and a half drive from Charleston. Adult tickets start at $11.75; however, a discount is given for groups of 15 or more and adult tickets are $1.75 off. The Columbia Zoo is open daily from 9:00 am to 6:00pm. Check their website,, for any special closings or alternate hours.
     Offering many events in the month of June, the Columbia Zoo is celebrating Father’s Day two weekends this month with their Fantastic Fathers activity. An educational event that showcases “which dads take parenting to a whole new level through devotion to the family or taking on double the work of rearing young.” This event happens on June 15th and 29th. Check their website for the list of hours.

     The Columbia Zoo offers many different animals you can feed yourself.  In addition, you can go to feeding times and watch the handlers feed selected animals. Check the times when you go as they may change. You can feed the giraffes, visit the petting zoo and feed the goats and lamas. The Lorikeets exhibit is an exciting exhibit to enter into. For $2 you can get a cup of nectar and feed these colorfully energetic birds.
The bird houses at the zoo feature many different types of birds from all over the world. The Penguin Coast themed birdhouse has three different types of penguins and the zoo offers a show during feeding times. The Asian Trek encampment houses endangered birds from Asia. And the Savannah Camp offers viewing of birds such as the East African Crowned Crane.

     When you go to the Aquarium or the Zoo, you will find many things to do and see in both of their interactive exhibits and events. Make a day of the events and celebrate National Zoo and Aquarium month in style. Plan a lunch at the Aquarium with gold fish and ocean shaped snacks. A road trip to the Columbia Zoo can be accompanied with Animal Crackers and snacks that the animals would eat. While there, plan a picnic and then make animal masks out of the paper plates you use. Take the weekend off from your busy schedule and go visit one of them. Not only is it educational, but relaxing as well.



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