A haven for exotic animals rescued from neglect or abandonment, Animal Adventures lets visitors interact with its furry and scaly refugees, teaching them firsthand to appreciate and respect the earth's diverse wildlife. Working with a rotating cast of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and marsupials, animal experts regale audiences with facts and the backstories of each animal, such as how they were rescued and which cartoon representative of their species best captures their regional accent. Though its denizens regularly find new homes, Animal Adventures's altruistic menagerie has included a massive alligator snapping turtle, a canadian lynx, and an asian water monitor. The sanctuary also offers day camps for youngsters looking to get closer with the animals, and an animal-adoption program for adults looking to support the cause by taking a critter home and putting it through college.
Visiting The Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center is a lot like stepping into a nature documentary. Guests can take a self-guided journey to meet more than 200 creatures from across the world. They may stop by the habitats of the black and white ruffed lemur, the western bobcat, and the spotted leopard. Along the way, guests might learn a lot: for instance, that the Bennett's wallaby carries its young in a pouch, and that the critically-endangered cotton-top tamarin has lost more than 75% of its native habitat.
But in at least one way, the zoo accomplishes something that David Attenborough never could. Visitors can actually reach out and touch a creature during discovery programs. They can even adopt certain animals, perhaps helping provide tasty grasses and career guidance to a red kangaroo.
These programs exemplify the nonprofit zoo's dedication to wildlife education and awareness, something they hope to instill in their visitors from an early age. In the summer, educators spin "Animal Tales" for rapt young audiences and hold a Zoo Camp, where kids start to learn about diet and animal care. As kids' love of animals grows, the zoo invites them to volunteer as Crew in Training members. Once they hit college, students can become interns working on projects such as field studies of the patas monkey.
Founded in 1903, New Britain Museum of American Art was designated the first museum in the country to be dedicated exclusively to American artwork. Upon its founding, wealthy industrialist John Butler Talcott endowed the museum with a hefty sum of gold bonds and bottled phoenix tears with which to purchase modern oil paintings. The collection blossomed to include other artistic media over time, and it now consists of more than 10,000 works spanning more than three centuries of American creative endeavor. The museum's permanent collections showcase works by noted American artists ranging from Norman Rockwell to John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt to Georgia O'Keeffe. Along with rotating exhibitions and borrowed collections, the museum showcases work by emerging artists.
Sweet Meadow Farm is not just a kid-friendly equestrian center. Sure, their experienced instructors lead private and group horseback-riding lessons year-round, but the farm also houses an interactive barnyard zoo. Their menagerie of domestic and exotic animals ranges from miniature horses and potbelly pigs to peacocks and kangaroos. Sweet Meadow Farm hosts birthday parties, too, during which kids can meet new critter friends inside the air-conditioned barn and make up secret handshakes that do not require opposable thumbs.
In 1936, Robert and Dorothy Leab drove their 13 head of cattle over Brodie Mountain and into Ioka Valley, where they broke ground on their new home. Despite the poor quality of the farm’s soil, their hard work gradually resulted in bountiful harvests. Decades later, the third generation of the Leab family still tills the land, planting assorted crops and opening the farm to visitors for year-round activities.
Each season brings new life to the farm, from the pastel buds and new shoots of spring to summer’s vibrant strawberries, which are grown on raised beds so visitors can pick their own pints. Kids frolic in Uncle Don’s Barnyard all summer, petting tame rabbits and llamas and whooshing down a 40-foot pipeline slide. Fall festival activities include hayrides and pumpkin picking, and during the winter, snow-covered Christmas trees can be carted home to add holiday cheer or provide a new project for the family’s pet beaver. Maple season stretches from February to April in the sugar house, occupied by 5,000 taps and two boilers. The farm churns out deep maple syrup that is served over pancakes and waffles in the Calf-A, a calf barn converted into a café. The farm’s cattle herds are pasture-raised during warm months, with their diet supplemented by the farm’s own corn, before becoming hormone-free, all natural beef.
As visitors step into the balmy gardens of The Butterfly Place, they may feel as though they are ?walking into a floating garden . . . as if they are being carried as well.? That was the experience of a Wicked Local writer who visited the seasonal indoor sanctuary, which houses both local butterflies and tropical species culled from around the world. As the butterflies freely wing about the sanctuary, koi fish swim through serene ponds along the winding pathway, and quail waddle and moonwalk through myriad species of colorful flora. Those who find that watching the butterflies sip nectar incites their own hunger can take a break at the outdoor picnic area and nibble on any snacks they may have brought along.