Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gulf World Marine Park

Based on a recommendation from a friend, I took the girls to a local marine park called Gulf World.  We loved it!  It is like a miniature Sea World.  In addition to the exhibits, there were tons of shows.  The first one we saw was the bird show, which included a trained bird flying in front of a wind machine:
They had tons of colorful, large birds.  They said all of these birds were donated to them from people who could no longer keep them as pets.
Because they watch tons of Jake and the Neverland Pirates, the girls called every green bird Skully:
They had two flamingos, which the girls loved.  They were fascinated with their ability to stand on one leg and tuck their heads into their feathers.  I was a little disappointed that there were almost no informational signs to provide some facts about the animals.  The girls asked me if flamingos could swim and I had no idea.  This was such a missed educational opportunity for the park and would cost them very little money to create and erect some informational signs.

Several months ago we read a book about ducks and the term "webbed feet" was used.  I taught the girls what that meant and have not thought about it at all since.  When we looked at these flamingos, the pool of water they were standing in was clear and shallow, so we could easily see their feet.  Catherine screamed out "They have webbed feet, Mommy!  Toe, webbing, toe, webbing, toe, webbing!  It's a pattern!"
 The park had a few alligators:
Some of the birds were outdoors and some were indoors.  All were on perches which provided completely unobstructed views.  When standing on the sidewalks, you were literally two feet away from the birds.  This bird said "Hello!" to us twice.  We could not get it to say anything else.
 They had a koi pond:
 Which included a turtle on a log:
At the Sea Lion and Rough Toothed Dolphin Show (as opposed to the Bottlenose Dolphin Show), you could literally get within a few feet of the dolphin holding pens before the show. Sabrina kept walking over there to take a sneak peak:
The sea lion show of course included a lot of humor and acting:
We sat in the front row.  I was shocked when the trainers brought the sea lion to the front of the pool.  It was literally about four feet from us. You could see their whiskers and eye balls:
 Here are some dolphin tricks from that show:
 The dolphin shows contained tons of tricks:
 At the end the dolphin came to the "slide out" which was a few feet from us.
They had a penguin exhibit which contained four small penguins.  They were out in the hot Florida sun, which kind of surprised me.  The sign said they were African Penguins, which may explain how they can tolerate this hot weather.  I had previously thought all penguins were from Antarctica, but I may be wrong.  I guess I should research that!
 The girls refused to pet the sting rays:
 We attended a reptile show, which of course included enormous snakes:
The girls wanted to sit in the front row for the Bottlenose Dolphin show.  This was the first time I have ever sat so close to a dolphin or whale show, which provided a whole new perspective.  We were able to see what was happening under the water as well as above it.  Here are the dolphins and trainers spinning around simultaneously:
 The first row was about six feet from the dolphin tank:
 During the last ten minutes of the show, children were allowed to go stand right next to the tank.
Catherine got completely soaking wet.  Sabrina got partly soaking wet.  Catherine was so impressed with how wet she got that she asked me to take a picture:
They had three tortoises:
This picture shows the indoor bird area.  Each of the little huts is a space for a bird.  There was a perch, some water, some food, and some toys under each.  The park also had huts like this outside.  There was lots of vegetation along the walkways, but no signs telling you what anything was.
 Another shot of the flamingo:
 The girls and one of the employees with a red bird:
I highly recommend this park.  It was $28 per adult, $18 for children 5-11, and free for kids 4 and under.  The parking is free and very close in (the lot is actually smaller than a typical Publix lot).  It is very compact and looks tiny from the outside.  But there is a lot of exhibits and shows jammed in there.  I called it a "miniature Sea World" and I really liked how you could see so much with so little walking and expense.  Since my children are so little, this small theme park was much easier to handle.

1 comment:

Amanda C. said...

Looks like a ton of fun! Hope you guys are having a good time!!