NATURE & WILDLIFE
Behind-the-scenes experience at Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
From April through October, your family or small group can schedule intimate 30-minute sessions to experience the work of a zookeeper. Most experiences are for children ages 5 and up with an accompanying adult. Explore It’s a Bug’s Life, Friends on the Farm, Wild & Wonderful Wallabies, and Gentle Giants: Private Giraffe Encounter, among others. A portion of the cost goes toward conservation projects and is tax-deductible. Participants must wear close-toed shoes and may want to bring a change of clothes. $250 for groups of 2, $500 for groups of 3–5.
Did you know there are 24,000 butterfly species worldwide? See some of them at the International Butterfly Show, that runs each spring into summer. The show has a different theme each year and features thousands of free-flying butterflies flittering among the trees and flowers unique to that year's spotlighted region. Become “citizen scientists” to observe which flowers or nectar-feeding stations attract the most butterflies, and record the results in your field journal. Also, learn how to create a backyard habitat for butterflies and other pollinators. Check the calendar for after-hours, adults-only events or family pajama parties. $7 adults, $4 youth (ages 5–17), $2 field journal.
Tour Red Wolf Sanctuary
This 501(c)(3) nonprofit in Rising Sun, Indiana, operates under the premise that all species are vital to maintain a healthy ecosystem. It shelters North American animals like wolves, black bears, foxes, bobcats, coyotes, and elk on 452 acres. Some animals are full-time residents because they are too dependent on humans to return to the wild. Others, like injured raptors or baby mammals, are rehabilitated and released. The property is also a natural habitat for nesting Bald Eagles, beaver, and otter. You may interact with the wild animals, like getting the wolves to howl, but only volunteers and employees can be in with or touch the animals. Tours are tailored to age and interest, last 2–3 hours, and are recommended for groups of 4–6 people with kids ages 5 and older. $20 adults, $10 teens, $5 children, by appointment only; call 812-438- 2306 to schedule a tour.
Penguin Encounter or Backstage Animal Experience at Newport Aquarium
Waddle across the Ohio River for a Penguin Encounter, where you can spend 20 minutes with an Animal Experience Specialist and the African penguins backstage in the Penguin House. Observe the penguins’ antics up close, take pictures, and perhaps touch a penguin. Because their native climate is temperate, dress for the indoors. Or try a Backstage Animal Experience tour, featuring behind-the-scenes information about the many animals that thrive in the aquarium’s one million gallons of water. Recommended for children ages 4 and older. Penguin Encounter: $26.99 per person, plus general admission ($24.99 adults, $16.99 children); Backstage Animal Encounter: $14.99 per person, plus general admission.
Open since 2003 to amateur and professional paleontologists alike, Trammel Fossil Park features 10 acres of undisturbed layers of limestone with an abundance of Ordovician-period fossils. Bring your own tools and containers to dig, dust, and extract fossils or fragments for your personal collection. Identify fossils using on-site signage and displays. The area is in full sun; wear close-toed shoes for the steep slopes and loose rock. FREE.
You can see live animals while exploring the 510-foot-long, 85-foot-wide, and 51-foot-high timber frame representation of Noah’s Ark, as described in The Book of Genesis. The animals, including kangaroos, ostriches, and Tibetan yaks, spend their time outside at Ararat Ridge Zoo. At the petting zoo, visitors can feed animals like llamas, goats, alpacas, and sheep, and those ages 2 and up can take a donkey or camel ride. Nearby, purchase a bag of dirt for $10, and then pan the dirt at the mining sluice for fossils like horn coral, shark teeth, amber, or petrified wood. $6 donkey ride, $8 camel ride, plus general admission ($40 adults, $31 seniors, $28 children ages 5–12).
HISTORY & ART
UnMuseum at Contemporary Arts Center
This is a family-friendly, intergenerational space where innovative art is presented in an interactive design with themes suitable for all ages. You will find an art-making space with countertops at varying heights, materials, supplies, and washing stations, as well as art you can hear, smell, and touch crafted by local and nationally acclaimed artists. Check the calendar for events like MakerSpace or early childhood education Thursday Art Play. FREE.
Rosenthal Education Center (REC) at Cincinnati Art Museum
Visit for free rotating activities related to the permanent collection, special exhibitions, art, or world culture. Located just off the Great Hall, the REC not only features opportunities for coloring, collage, and sculpture building, but also interactive activities for caregivers and children. In the spring, the REC’s theme is the technological progression of art. Kids under 6 will enjoy a giant Lite-Brite, a pop art soft space, and a magnetic block city landscape activity. Older children can check out the zoetrope animation station, screen-printing simulation, 3D printer, 16th century camera obscura, and an interactive paint recipe. FREE; special exhibitions: $10 adults, $5 children 6 and up, students, and seniors.