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KIDS KALEIDSCOPE  . . .


TWO-DAY “PRINCESS WEEKEND”

RAISES THE SCEPTER FOR FROG CONSERVATION ON

SATURDAY & SUNDAY, MARCH 10 & 11

  • Sparkly Event Highlights the Crisis Facing World’s Amphibians

  • Princess Costumes Encouraged; Cowboys and Pirates Also Welcome

  • Activities & Photos with Costumed Princesses like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Other Fairy Tale Characters

  • Make-Overs by Santa Barbara City College Cosmetology Academy, Frog Kissing Booth and Other Animal Encounters

  • Join FrogWatch USA to Help Monitor Local Frogs and Toads

A hit with budding royalty since 2009 when the Zoo first raised the scepter for amphibian conservation, Princess Day is now a two-day affair, dubbed Princess Weekend. Young female members of royal birth don tiaras, step into their glass slippers, and wear their finest sparkly ball gowns to this celebration of all-things-princess. But it’s not all dress-up, this event also is designed to bring attention to the many frogs, toads, and other amphibians around the world that face possible extinction.

Princess Weekend at the Santa Barbara Zoo is Saturday and Sunday, March 10 and 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Santa Barbara Zoo members only are allowed early admission at 9 a.m.). The event is free with Zoo admission: $18 adults, $13 seniors aged 65 and up, $10 children 2-12. Weekend parking is $11. For more info, visit www.sbzoo.org.

“There has been a shocking drop in populations of the world’s amphibians,” says Santa Barbara Zoo CEO Rich Block. “If only there was a Fairy Godmother with a magic wand to fix the problems they face. In the absence of that, accredited zoos and aquariums are working to address the issues in the wild, and are creating temporary captive ‘lifeboats’ of some of the most threatened species.”

Variations of the Princess Day have been staged at the Georgia Aquarium, Houston Zoo, Calgary Zoo, Oregon Zoo and Knoxville Zoo, among others.

Frog kissing is not required, but there are live animal encounters and keeper talks about several of the Zoo’s amphibians including milky frog, marine toad, blue tongue skink, caiman lizard, and Western toad, among others.

Real live princesses like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, along with mermaids, fairies, and other fairytale characters, are present for photos and chat. Costumes are encouraged, and boys are also welcome, be they dressed as knights, princes, cowboys, pirates, or astronauts.

Princess Weekend also features a “Kiss a Frog” booth, face painting, a bounce house, games, crafts and more, all with a princess theme. DJ Hetick is spinning tunes for a dance party, and makeovers are available for the young princesses from the Santa Barbara City College Cosmetology Academy.

Guests can also learn about and join FrogWatch USA, in which “citizen scientists” are trained to identify and count frogs and toads in local wetlands, creeks, or other habitats. During the breeding season, from February to August, these volunteers listen for the croaks, peeps, trills, and other calls of common species and report their findings, which go into a national database. The commitment is just three minutes twice a week. (www.sbzoo.org/frogwatch-usa/)

What Do Sparky Crowns Have to Do with Frogs?

Estimates are that at least one-third of known amphibian species are threatened with extinction, a rate higher than that for birds or mammals. While the major culprits historically have been habitat loss and degradation, the main challenge today is the rapidly dispersing infectious fungal disease chytridiomycosis, which is causing population and species extinctions at an alarming rate. Managed populations and “lifeboats” of amphibians may become the only conservation hope for many species faced with imminent extinction.

Zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) are committed to ensuring the survival of all amphibian species and are already an active force in amphibian conservation. For more information, visit www.aza.org/amphibian-conservation/.


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© 2008 Bonnie Carroll, All Rights Reserved