June is National Zoo and Aquarium Month. Among the many fine ways to introduce kids to the amazing wildlife of our planet is to take them for a mesmerizing trip to the zoo or aquarium. Science is more than just test tubes and rulers. Sometimes, it is good to be reminded of the big picture, the understanding of our existence and life. Funnily enough, that is probably where so many biologists take their first steps into a life of science. In Greensboro, you are in luck as some great options for zoos and aquariums are within reach!
The North Carolina Zoological Park is nearby in Asheboro and has the distinction of being the world’s largest natural habitat zoo. While that sounds impressive, it is a really important distinction. This is not a zoo with tiny enclosures and bored looking animals. This zoo is big, and the animals have plenty of space to roam around and act naturally. Don’t be too worried about not seeing the animals though, as there are some up-close encounters that are guided by the expert educational staff.
In Greensboro, we have the Greensboro Science Center, part of which is also a zoo, with smaller creatures such as a pygmy hippo, lemurs, and flamingos. And the Science Center has an aquarium feature with lionfish, jellyfish, and sharks. They also have a shallow tank where you can touch stingrays and some small sharks. The stingers are of course removed. Nothing compares to the feeling of touching a ray or shark’s rough skin.
Education is very important, and a great way to get involved and spur on a passion for learning is to begin when children are young and introduce them to wonderful and exotic creatures. Sure, the neighborhood squirrel and family cat are pretty cool, but they are not as cool as a penguin or jellyfish. Exposure to these wild and strange animals is a great way to get young minds thinking and wanting to know more. This interest leads to questions, which lead to great and fun ways of answering them. That is the noble pursuit of science that is best enjoyed by children. It is a great way to be a part of your children’s education and get them excited to learn.