We have Winter here in Clearwater, Florida. She is a rescued Bottlenose dolphin, whose tail had to be amputated. But thanks to some inventive and compassionate people, she now has a new prosthetic tail – and a permanent home.
She is the star of two wonderful films, The Dolphin Tale and the Dolphin Tale 2. But even more importantly, she is the star in the hearts of countless kids who have met her and her friend Hope at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Despite its name this is not a traditional aquarium, but a marine hospital and rehabilitation center where injured animals are brought from near and far for urgent care and rehabilitation.
The two dolphins, and a third one called Nicholas, live here getting all the care and therapies they need on a daily basis. They have certainly made a lasting impression on my ‘grandies’.
This past holiday season Santa brought them an opportunity to have a close encounter with Hope. They could feed her, touch her and get a photo taken with her. Absolute joy.
One of the last days of 2017 we also visited the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, where we found this baby chimpanzee pondering the complexities of life…
…while his friend, a colobus monkey, demonstrated his gymnastic skills. And his fancy haircut.
We saw many birds, including a Scarlet Ibis and a beautiful mystery bird I have not been able to identify as yet. Anyone?
And we watched the meerkats watching us. The one on guard duty, in particular, nailed his eyes on us. But we were on our best behavior and he didn’t need to sound alarm.In the “Africa” section we spotted elephants, zebras…and a giraffe couple having a tender moment.
I’d rather observe all these animals in their natural environment like I used to, but have to admit well run zoos offer the kids an invaluable opportunity to experience them.
And some zoos, including this one, also help to breed endangered species. Four southern white rhino babies have already been born here.
There was so much more to see, like this sweet little wallaby basking in the late December sun.
But when you are dealing with a granny and two kids, there’s a limit how much you can take in during one visit. So late in the afternoon we had to say goodbye. Thank you for coming along!