The “International Ocean Film Tour” @ Maritime Aquarium Norwalk

Enjoy a night of edge-of-your-seat storytelling through a series of inspiring short films all focusing on the big blue, as The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk welcomes “International Ocean Film Tour 6” on Thurs., April 4.  This one-night film fest features inspiring personalities in six short films from around the world. The stories celebrate sailors, surfers, scientists, artists and cinematographers who are doing extraordinary things in and on the oceans.

The films start at 7 p.m., but the entire Aquarium will open at 6 p.m. In addition, the evening concludes with a Q&A about the marine world with panelists from The Maritime Aquarium and Sacred Heart University, whose Department of Biology is a sponsor.  The films will be shown on the giant video wall in Newman’s Own Hall. Expected titles include:

“Julie” – 15 minutes. Free -diving and spearfishing became second nature to islander Julie Gautier. But her passion lies in the creative process. Fusing free diving and dance, “Julie” is Gautier’s powerful story of finding her creative voice beneath the surface.
“700 Sharks” – 20 minutes. Marine biologist and renowned wildlife photographer Laurent Ballesta takes audiences to the Pacific atoll Fakarava, where he has been studying the hunting behavior of reef sharks. With cutting-edge technology and a team of experts, Ballesta encounters more than 700 sharks and documents their strategies as they hunt groupers at night in a narrow ravine on the coral belt.
“Chasing the Thunder” – 45 minutes. Poaching at sea has flourished in remote places like the Ross Sea in the Southern Ocean, unchecked and uninhibited by law enforcement … but not without defense from activists like Sea Shepherd. “Chasing the Thunder” is a real-life thriller in rough seas; an epic 110-day sea chase across three oceans and two seas, where the fearless captains of two Sea Shepherd vessels pursue the illegal fishing trawler Thunder. See how conviction and resilience can make a difference where governments fail.
“Andy Irons – Kissed by God” – 30 minutes. Meet one of surfing’s all-time greats, a man who would change the sport forever but never managed to escape his own worst enemy: himself. In the 1990s, Andy Irons made a name for himself as the enfant terrible on and off the board. What appeared to be eccentricities was actually bipolar disorder. “Kissed by God” is the heart-rending story of an athlete who pushed the limits of his sport and transcended the boundaries of his condition against all odds up and until his untimely death.
“Surfer Dan” – 7 minutes. The winter waves on Lake Superior are just right for Dan Schetter. Dodging sheets of ice, he launches in the water with abandon to do what saved his life: surf. Nothing clears the head like a plunge into cold water—precisely what’s needed when you want to leave your drinking habits behind. A sober “Surfer Dan” introduces us to his drug and remedy, proving that a real surfer needs no palm trees, no tan lines and—most importantly—no excuses.
“Blown Away” – 7 minutes. Follow sound engineers Hannes Koch and Ben Schaschek on a 4.5-year life-changing journey, calling on ports in 31 countries, from Sydney to Berlin. Their goal: to record as many local musicians as they can and connect them all through music. On the tape, the “sailing conductors” introduce people from across the globe, who have never met one another in real life. This sailing adventure has not only a unique soundtrack, and it also will kindle everyone’s wanderlust.

Stay after the films for an “oceans Q&A” with Barrett Christie and Dr. David Hudson of The Maritime Aquarium, as well as Sacred Heart University Professors Jennifer Mattei, Barbara Pierce, and Deirdre Yeater.  Tickets are $20, or $18 for Aquarium members. (Note that regular adult Aquarium admission is $24.95. So, with doors opening at 6 p.m. for the April 4 event, you can tour The Maritime Aquarium for an hour and then enjoy this special film fest for less than normal admission.)  Learn more and reserve your tickets at

The Aquarium event is the New England premiere of this newest, sixth version of the “International Ocean Film Tour.” Watch the trailer here:

Calling All Gardners to the Hollister House Garden April 13 & 14!

Hollister House Garden is looking to add some new garden enthusiasts to its volunteer staff for the 2019 season. Volunteers welcome visitors to the garden during our public visiting hours and assist in hosting lectures and special events.

“We rely on our volunteers to play a key role in representing the garden to visitors and event guests” says George Schoellkopf, creator of Hollister House Garden and president of the board of directors. “Volunteers appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the garden and provide information for our visitors from all around the world.”

Ideal volunteer candidates should be friendly, reliable and enjoy meeting the public. An interest in and enthusiasm for gardens is encouraged, however gardening expertise is not required. Volunteers are invited to several special events exclusively for volunteers during the season.

For more information, plan to attend one of our volunteer information sessions are Saturday, April 13th 10am and Sunday, April 14th, 4pm. RSVP to or call 860-868-2200.

Hollister House Garden is a non-profit corporation and one of only 16 exceptional gardens designated a Preservation Project by the Garden Conservancy, whose mission is to identify and preserve important private gardens across America for the education and enjoyment of the public.

In 2010 Hollister House achieved its prestigious listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The property has also been named a Town Landmark Site by the Town of Washington.

Hollister House Garden is open to visitors April 26th through October 12th on Wednesdays and Fridays hours 1-4PM and Saturdays 10-4PM. Private group visits are welcome weekdays by appointment only. Directions to the garden’s 300 Nettleton Hollow Road location are also available on the website. Contact: Pamela Moffett, 860-868-2200

Two Rare Amur Leopard Cubs born @ Beardsley Zoo

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s six-year-old Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), Freya, gave birth to three cubs on January 25, with two cubs surviving. The surviving cubs, a male and a female, were removed from Freya when she began hyper-grooming behaviors, which posed a danger to their wellbeing. One cub was euthanized due to maternal-induced injuries. Both six-week-old cubs are in seclusion in the Zoo’s Animal Health Care Center.

The surviving female cub suffered the loss of her tail due to the hyper-grooming, and underwent lifesaving surgery shortly after birth. She was treated with antibiotics for an infection, but has completed the medication and is doing well.

Amur leopards are critically endangered, which means they face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, with approximately 80 animals remaining there. There are approximately 200 in human care worldwide, with slightly more than 100 in Russia and Europe, and slightly fewer than 100 in the U.S. With such a small population, each Amur leopard born is extremely important to the survival of the species. Six Amur leopard cubs were born in the U.S. in 2018, with five surviving.

“Amur leopards are on the brink of extinction,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho. “The Species Survival Plan’s breeding recommendation is designed to bolster the number of individuals in human care, for potential future breeding, as well as the opportunity to return certain members of the species back to the wild someday. The birth of these cubs brings a few more precious Amur leopards to the population, which can help ensure the survival of these majestic animals for future generations.”
Zoo veterinary and animal care staff are providing around the clock care, hand feeding the babies five times a day, with a feline milk replacement formula, supplemented with vitamins. In the past several weeks, both cubs have increased in weight, to roughly 2.5 kilos each (5.5 lbs.). The male cub is somewhat larger than the female. Zoo staff was aware of the leopard’s pregnancy through fecal hormone testing and weight gain, and had been keeping a 24-hour watch on Freya during the weeks leading up to the cubs’ birth. The cubs’ survival to six weeks is a critical milestone. It will be several more weeks before the cubs will be available for viewing by the public.

The female cub has melanism, an extremely rare black color variant in big cats. Melanistic cats have a condition where the body produces an excess of black pigment, the opposite of albinism. There are nine leopard subspecies, ranging from Africa all the way to the Amur leopard in eastern Russia. And while 11 percent of leopards alive today are thought to be melanistic, most are found in Southeast Asia, where tropical forests offer an abundance of shade. An extremely rare melanistic leopard was recently sighted in Africa for the first time in a century. There is currently one other melanistic Amur leopard in this country at the San Diego Zoo.


The Zoo is home to the cubs’ parents: a female, Freya, born in 2013, from the Copenhagen Zoo, and a male Sochi, born in 2013, from the Denver Zoo. Their habitat features rock outcroppings that enable the leopards to explore their surroundings at ground level. It also includes areas as high as 10 feet off the ground, to enable them to view their domain from a different level. Amur leopards have been known to leap more than 10 feet vertically, so there is plenty of room to stretch their legs.

According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA), the goal of the SSPs is to make sure each species has enough genetic diversity and population numbers to last for the next 100-200 years. Since many Felid species haven’t reached population targets, the SSP considers it of vital importance to focus on reproductive research. The future of the Amur leopard has been a major concern of the world’s zoos for many years.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo will provide updates on the Cubs’ condition on its website and on Facebook. The Beardsley Zoo is located on 1875 Noble Ave. Bridgeport CT

About Amur leopards
A rare subspecies of leopard that has adapted to life in the temperate forests from Northeast China to the Korean peninsula and the Russian Far East, Amur leopards are often illegally hunted for their beautiful spotted fur. The Amur leopard is agile and fast, running at speeds up to 37 miles per hour. Males reach weights of 110 pounds and females up to 90 pounds. They prey on sika, roe deer, and hare, but the Amur leopard has to compete with humans for these animals. Some scientists have reported male Amur leopards remaining with the females after mating, and possibly even helping to rear the young. They live for 10-15 years in the wild, and up to 20 years in human care. In the wild, Amur leopards make their home in the Amur-Heilong, a region that contains one of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world, vast steppe grasslands, and the unbroken taiga biome.

Wigwam Escape – Connecticut’s Newest Attraction

In a world “gone” digital, it is fun to leave technology behind for a while and experience something authentically different with friends and family. Wigwam Escape, a new escape room located at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington Connecticut, is an adventure that challenges and educates while being immersive and interactive. It is a chance to bond with your friends and to show off your puzzle-solving skills! The adrenaline rush to beat the clock is all part of the fun. It sounds exhilarating, right?

So, can you thrive for a day in 1518? Get ready to walk back in time to find out. Wigwam Escape cleverly simulates what life was like in Connecticut prior to European contact. In an immersive woodland setting with no locks, keys, cell phones, computers, or clocks. Wigwam Escape’s thematic puzzles challenge game players to hunt and gather, find water and prepare food similar to how Native people did hundreds of years ago.

About Escape Rooms

Essentially an escape room is a puzzle game where players are put in a room and have a set time to solve the puzzles and “escape” the room. Players solve a series of puzzles using clues or hints from around the room. In order to escape the room, you have to solve all the riddles and puzzles within the time constraints to successfully escape. Forget video games, this is hands-on fun!

Wigwam Escape – The Story

You, the game player, find yourselves in a Native American village in the woodlands of Connecticut in the year 1518. You’ve just received word that an illness is affecting the neighboring fishing village of Metachiwon and they are asking for help. It is seven miles to Metachiwon so you have to act quickly. It’s up to you to figure out how to gather and prepare supplies for your journey ahead. You have one day (roughly one hour game time) to hunt, gather and cook using only the resources found in the village and surrounding forest. This empathetic experience connects players to the ways Native peoples lived and the skills they relied on 500 years ago in their daily lives.

FAQs – Wigwam Escape

Wigwam Escape allows three to seven players to experience the room. To enhance the experience the room caters only to private groups, so when you book the room, it is for your group only.

The ticket price is $25 per player and includes a non- expiring half off admission ticket to the Institute for American Indian Studies that can be used at any time during museum hours.

The suggested age for Wigwam Escape is 12 and up; however, as long as there is a parent or guardian present during the game kids under 12 are welcome.

Wigwam Escape includes a 15-minute pre-game introduction with an Experience Host, a one-hour session in the escape room and a post-game popcorn party and discussion.

Wigwam Escape is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday by reservation. Office hours are Wed. and Thurs. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To purchase your tickets, visit or call (860) 868- 0510.

About The Institute for American Indian Studies

The Institute for American Indian Studies preserves and educates through discovery and creativity the diverse traditions, vitality, and knowledge of Native American cultures. Through archaeology, the IAIS is able to build new understandings of the world and history of Native Americans, the focus is on stewardship and preservation. This is achieved through workshops, special events, and education for students of all ages.

Located on 15 woodland acres the IAIS has an outdoor Three Sisters and Healing Plants Gardens as well as a replicated 16th c. Algonkian Village. Inside the museum, authentic artifacts are displayed in permanent, semi-permanent and temporary exhibits from prehistory to the present that allows visitors a walk through time.

The Institute for American Indian Studies is located on 38 Curtis Road in Washington Connecticut and can be reached online or by calling 860-868-0518.

Gallant Sons Of Erin – Free Concert @ Torrington Historical Society March 22

On March 22 at 7 pm the Torrington Historical Society is hosting a free concert featuring the Gallant Sons of Erin at Founders Hall Auditorium at Northwestern Community College located on Park Place East in Winsted. Participants will enjoy authentic Irish – American Music of the Civil War era and hear many tunes that have not been played publically in more than a century.

During the period of the American Civil War, songs started to emerge that reflected the Irish experience in terms of this conflict. Many believe that these ballads and their lyrics form part of an Irish cultural diaspora in mid.-nineteenth century America. They reveal what the war meant to the Irish involved and the impact this participation had on the relationship between the Irish, American and their identity in the 1860s.

The Gallant Sons were born out of a mutual interest in not only the sound of traditional and composed mid-nineteenth century American music, but its origins, impact, and value as a historical resource. In their roles as living historians, the Gallant Sons research and present the lives and culture of Irish-American immigrants of the American Civil War era. Their groundbreaking CD, “No Irish Need Apply” contains 14 selections drawn from the Civil War era. Many of these songs have never before been recorded by any artist. The Gallant Sons live performances are a mixture of high energy, emotion, stories, reflection, tribute, and remembrance. Audiences are treated not only to the history of the music but to the music as history.

New *Star* attraction @ Stepping Stones Museum for Children

A new, space-themed exhibition has opened at Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk. A collaboration between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Informal STEM Education Network (NISE Network), the Sun, Earth, Universe exhibition will be on display at Stepping Stones in 2019 as part of a nationwide effort designed to engage audiences in the awe-inspiring fields of Earth and space science.

Packed with engaging, hands-on interactive exhibits and dazzling imagery, this 600-square-foot exhibition will connect visitors with current NASA science research and launch them on a journey to explore the universe! How is Earth changing? What is it like on other planets? Does life exist beyond Earth? What’s happening on the Sun, and how does it affect us? Sun, Earth, Universe is a new exhibition about our planet, the solar system, and the universe, and the big questions NASA is trying to answer about each.

Sun, Earth, Universe includes fun and compelling exhibits for visitors of all ages. Follow the design-build-test cycle of engineering and build a model spacecraft for your own mission to space. Spin a tumbler of 10,000 beads, representing all of the stars we can see from Earth to search for the unique one that represents our Sun. Reveal hidden images using the same tools NASA scientists employ to explore the otherwise invisible forces and energy of the universe. Take a break in the seating area and play the Your Mission to Space board game, or help younger visitors pilot rovers across the Mars landscape play table. These fun experiences (and many more!) introduce visitors to ongoing NASA research in the fields of heliophysics, Earth science, planetary science, and astrophysics, and encourage them to imagine what the future of Earth and space science might hold.

Many panels on the Sun, Earth, Universe exhibition provide question prompts and a link to This companion website features NASA video footage and mobile-friendly interactives that provide visitors opportunity to investigate themes further on their mobile devices while at the museum or at home using their mobile device.

“First and foremost, Stepping Stones is extremely honored to be chosen as one of the 52 institutions across the country that will be displaying this awesome exhibition during the course of the next year!” said Brian Morrissey, Director of Exhibits. “Many children are fascinated with outer space, but this exhibit isn’t just for those who are space enthusiasts. Sun, Earth, Universe provides great opportunities to experience the world of aerospace and beyond, allows for moments of hands-on exploration and shared discovery among family members and will, perhaps, inspire interest in Earth and space sciences.”

“Stepping Stones is excited to host this exhibit because it aligns perfectly with our commitment to broaden and enrich the educational opportunities of children and to enhance their understanding of the world, and in the case, beyond,” Morrissey said.

The Sun, Earth, Universe exhibition was created through a project led by Arizona State University, in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Sun, Earth, Universe exhibition was developed by a team led by the Science Museum of Minnesota, and fifty-two copies will be fabricated and distributed nationwide by the National Informal STEM Education Network (NISE Network). Exhibitions will be delivered between fall 2018 and summer 2019 and then will be on display at museums across the country over the next several years.

The Sun, Earth, Universe exhibition is free with paid admission to Stepping Stones. For more information, visit


The Sun, Earth, Universe exhibition was developed in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Sun, Earth, Universe exhibitions are developed and distributed nationwide by the National Informal STEM Education Network (NISE Network).

This material is based upon work supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number NNX16AC67A and 80NSSC18M0061. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

About Stepping Stones Museum for Children

Stepping Stones Museum for Children is an award-winning, private, non-profit 501 (c)(3) children’s museum committed to broadening and enriching the lives of children and families. For more information about Stepping Stones, to book a field trip or schedule a class, workshop or facility rental call 203-899-0606 or visit

Stepping Stones Museum for Children is located at 303 West Avenue, Norwalk, CT, exit 14 North and 15 South off I-95. Museum hours are: Labor Day through Memorial Day, Tuesday-Sunday and holiday Mondays from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; and Memorial Day through Labor Day, Monday-Sunday from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Admission is $15 for adults and children and $10 for seniors. Children under 1 are free. Get social with Stepping Stones on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

About the NISE Network

The National Informal STEM Education Network (NISE Network) is a national community of informal educators and scientists dedicated to fostering public awareness, engagement, and understanding of current science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).