Rainforest Reptiles is at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo for a limited engagement! Aug. 25- Aug. 28!

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo concludes its summer programming schedule with Rainforest Reptiles, a dynamic, interactive, and educational show that is sure to engage and excite young and old alike. Rainforest Reptiles features over 200 exotic reptiles, ranging from iguanas, Burmese pythons, and boa constrictors to lizards, turtles, and American alligators. Visitors also will appreciate the Zoo’s newly renovated “Alligator Alley” exhibit, which is home to five new alligators.

Alligator Alley’s redesigned exhibit accommodates the five new alligators, all male, which reside there. A new deck has been constructed for the alligators, allowing visitors to better observe these reptiles as they go about their daily activities and feedings. A new roof now provides visitors with shading and protection from the elements, and the new audio system allows zookeepers to better interact with the audience. A higher plexi-glass wall prevents debris from easily falling in.

Alligators have been around longer than the dinosaurs, almost 65 million years, and are relatively unchanged in that time. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s alligators are between the ages of four and five and are still small, the largest weighing approximately 55 lbs, while the smallest averages 30 lbs. They range from four to five feet long.

Known to grow continuously throughout their lives, these creatures are known to reach lengths of thirteen to twenty feet and weights from 400 to 2,000 pounds. They can bite down with 2,000 pounds of pressure with a mouth that contains 65 teeth. Formerly an endangered species, more than one million adult alligators live in the wild today, representing a conservation success story!

The Rainforest Reptile Shows are Thursday, August 25 – Sunday, August 28; the shows take place on Thursday & Friday at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. On Saturday and Sunday the shows take place at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm. All shows are FREE with paid admission to the Zoo!

T-Rex Extinctions Imminent Again With “Dinosaur Summer” Ending Sept. 5 At The Maritime Aquarium At Norwalk

Dinosaurs are about to go extinct again, with only a few days left to enjoy the “Dinosaur Summer” exhibit at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

It may have been a comet that did in the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, but it’s the looming end of a contractual lease that will doom the Aquarium’s life-sized moving roaring robotic beasts, which include a young and adult Tyrannosaurus rex.

“The exhibit will definitely become extinct at the end of the day Sept. 5 – Labor Day,” said Chris Loynd, the Aquarium’s marketing director. “We’ll miss them. They’ve been very popular with our visitors, especially with kids, who have been able to compare their world with what it was like to be a young dinosaur growing up.”

The robotic exhibit delves into how quickly young dinosaurs grew, how big they got, what they ate and how they were protected from danger. It explores these concepts by pairing young and adult dinosaurs of four species: Stegosaurus, with the line of bony plates across their backs; the long-necked Apatosaurus; the crested Parasaurolophus; and Tyrannosaurus rex (no introduction needed).

The dinosaurs move, roar – even blink their eyes – in realistic fashion. But they’re fully lighted – not dark and scary – in an educational dinosaur exhibit fit for even the youngest visitor. An extra “cut-away” T-rex offers a peek inside a robotic dinosaur, so kids can see how it works and even control it. And an outdoor “fossil dig” has been entertaining budding paleontologists.

The exhibit is presented by Purdue Pharma L.P.

“Dinosaur Summer” is free with paid Aquarium admission, which is $12.95 for adults, $11.95 for seniors 65+, and $9.95 for children 2-12.

“Dinosaur Summer” opened June 18 as part of a summer-long dinosaur triple play that also includes the IMAX movie “T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous” (showing at noon & 4 p.m. daily through Aug. 31, then at noon daily from Sept. 1-5) and the simulator ride-film “Dino Island II: Escape from Dinosaur Island” (running every 10 minutes daily). The IMAX movie and the ride-film both also close on Labor Day.

“T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous” is a fictional tale of a teen-ager magically transported back through time, where she meets famous dinosaur experts doing field research and eventually ends up 65 million years in the past. She – and audiences – encounter Pteranodons with 20-foot wingspans, duck-billed Hadrosaurs and and one miffed T-rex momma, rendered in incredible detail on the giant IMAX® screen.

Tickets for the Aquarium (including the dinosaur exhibit) and an IMAX movie are $19.45 for adults, $17.95 for seniors 65+ and $14.45 children for 2-12.

And in the rollicking simulator ride-film, “Dino Island II: Escape from Dinosaur Island,” riders join an international team of scientists trying to save prehistoric animals from an island about to be destroyed by a volcano. From within an all-terrain/submersible vehicle, the team must deal with flowing lava, an angry Stegosaurus, a primordial swamp and Tony the T-rex.

The ride-film runs every 10 minutes. Riders must be 36 inches tall to board.

Tickets for the Aquarium (including the dinosaur exhibit) and ride-film are $19.20 adults, $18.20 for seniors 65+ and $16.20 children 2-12. Maritime Aquarium members pay $4.50.

For the full “Dinosaur Summer” triple play (Aquarium with dinosaur exhibit, IMAX and ride-film), tickets are $24.45 for adults, $22.95 for seniors 65+ and $19.45 for children 2-12.

For more information about The Maritime Aquarium’s exhibits, IMAX movies and programs this summer, go online to http://www.MaritimeAquarium.org or call (203) 852-0700.

Friends of the Norwalk Islands Cook-out Kayak Paddle Sunday August 21!

Experienced and novice kayakers are invited to join Friends of the Norwalk Islands for a day of exploration and a cook-out on Sunday, August 21. A guided Kayak Paddle to the Norwalk Islands will launch at 9:30 a.m. from The Small Boat Shop dock at 144 Water Street. Children (age 10 and above and weighing at least 100 pounds) are welcome to participate. Water safety and basic paddling techniques will be discussed before the tour to the Norwalk Islands begins.

“This is an opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the Norwalk Islands,” says Susan Snider, president, Friends of the Norwalk Islands. “After launching, we will head down the Norwalk River into Long Island Sound. Weather permitting we will stop for a cook-out on Shea Island followed by a visit to Chimon Island to learn about the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge and meet Elliot Sudal and Jason Wheeler, the island keepers who are living and working on Chimon this summer.”

The Small Boat Shop is sponsoring this kayak paddle to support Friends of the Norwalk Islands. The event fee of $105 includes a kayak, paddles and life jacket, plus a $25 donation to Friends of the Norwalk Islands. Reservations are required by calling Friends of the Norwalk Islands (203-849-8341) or The Small Boat Shop (203-854-5223) or visit http://www.TheSmallBoatShop.com/kayaktours2011.html .

Led by Snider, the Friends of the Norwalk Islands has partnered with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to conserve, protect and enhance the environmental, recreational and cultural significance of the Norwalk Islands and to promote the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Norwalk Islands of Chimon, Peach, Goose and Sheffield are part of the Norwalk Islands unit of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. To learn more, visit the web site at http://www.FriendsoftheNorwalkIslands.org

Summer Jam LIVE Teen Concert Series Rocks STEPPING STONES July 13- Aug. 17

School’s out and Summer Jam LIVE @ Stepping Stones is in! Beginning on Wednesday, July 13, the hottest, up-and-coming teen-aged musicians in the industry will take the stage for a series of concerts to benefit youth enrichment initiatives at the museum.

Kicking Daisies, the infectious, vibrant, punk-pop teen rock band voted by fans as “the next big thing” will strut their stuff on opening night, followed by headliners eight-year-old rapper Lil’ P’Nut on August 3, acoustic sensation Burnham on August 10 and a Battle of the Bands on August 17th to blow concert goers minds!

Billed as one of the hottest teen events of the summer season and rigged with a state-of-the-art sound and theatrical lighting system, high def monitors, intimate staging and plenty of room for the kids to hang, Summer Jam LIVE is sponsored by JALA, Serendipity Magazine, KC101.3, Bank of America and Venture Photography. Red carpet photos, Serendipity Magazine’s casting call for fashion models, drawings, giveaways, food and dance music round out each night’s activities. And for parents and chaperones, be there without being there in Stepping Stones specially created, exclusive Parent’s Lounge.

The four summer shows include:

July 13 – Kicking Daisies and Rose and the Thorns
Kicking Daisies was voted by their fans as the “next big thing in music.” Wise beyond their years, Connecticut natives, Duran, Ben, Carly and Caitlin have gained a following for their honest lyrics and precocious musical talent that delights audiences of all ages.
Rose and the Thorns is described as rock-n-roll with a little soul. Hailing from New York City with the spirit of the 60’s and 70’s, their honest and soulful music is extraordinarily refreshing and raw.

August 3 – DJ Jadin in the Mix with Lil’ P-Nut
All the way from London to make this special guest appearance, Jadin will get the crowd jumpin’ with his mixing mastery of the latest Hip-Hop tracks.
Benjamin “P-Nut” Jr. was born in 2002 in Memphis. This 8-year-old rapping sensation has been featured on the “The Ellen Degeneres Show” and is about to sign a deal with Cartoon Network.

August 10 – Acoustic Concert featuring Burnham and Stereo Skyline
The three Burnham Brothers are from Long Island and have been playing together for seven years. They opened for Justin Bieber in concert last year.
Stereo Skyline formed while its members were still in high school. The Long Island natives have also shared the stage with the likes of Hanson, Cartel, All Time Low and Boys Like Girls.

August 17 – Battle of the Bands
This night will feature the best up-and-coming local bands of the season and concert-goers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite.

Summer Jam LIVE tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. The doors open at 6 pm and the concerts start at 7 pm. For more information and for details on buying tickets, visit http://www.steppingstonesmuseum.org/summerjam or become a fan on Facebook: Live at Stepping Stones.

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 http://www.steppingstonesmuseum.org

A Taste of History: Civil War Food Challenge

On Saturday, June 11 at Mill Hill Historic Park, 2 East Wall Street in Norwalk from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m visitors to this event will have the opportunity to taste diverse dishes from the Civil War era. Dishes will be interpreted by 12 local eateries vying to be judged “the best” in different food categories for A Taste of History: Civil War. Participants include American Steakhouse, Ash Creek Saloon, Bacchus, Barcelona, B.J. Ryan’s, Dry Dock, Hummel Brothers, Jeff’s Cuisine, New York Bakery, O’Neill’s, Sweet Ashley’s (all in Norwalk) and Nick’s Pizza (Stamford). The winners will be chosen by attendees during the event on Saturday, June 11, at Mill Hill Historic Park, 2 East Wall Street. Between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., attendees will purchase ballots ($20 – adults/teens; $15 – 12 or younger) and sample dishes prepared by the participants, then vote for their favorites.

During the event, attendees can visit a Civil War encampment to see demonstrations and talk with re-enactors from Company A of the 11th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. Displays will focus on Civil War cooking, weapons and the life of soldiers. Attendees at A Taste of History also can explore an exhibition of quilts from before the Civil War to the present organized by the Historical Society as part of the six-month Norwalk Quilt Trail. In addition, WEBE-108 will broadcast live from the event.

A Taste of History: Civil War is presented by the Norwalk Historical Society as a fund-raiser for restoration of the Civil War Soldiers Monument in Riverside Cemetery. The statue was erected in 1889 by Buckingham Post No. 12 of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization made up of Union Army veterans, to serve as a memorial for more than 32 Civil War soldiers whose families could not afford a “proper” burial. Over the years, this monument has deteriorated and the zinc Civil War soldier was pulled the off its granite base in 2002. Currently, the pieces of the statue are on display at the Norwalk Historical Society Town House at Mill Hill.

As one of its projects in honor of the Sesquicentennial of the beginning of the Civil War, the Norwalk Historical Society has mounted a campaign to repair the statue, christened “Chester,” and return it to its rightful place. Through a grant from the Historic Preservation division of the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, monuments conservator Francis Miller of ConservArt, Inc. is preparing a treatment report that will outline the steps needed to restore the monument.

Sheffield Island Opens for the Season

The Norwalk Seaport Association has kicked off its summer season with the opening of Sheffield Island that is home to the 142-year-old Sheffield Island lighthouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

From May through September, visitors can board the Seaport Association’s 45-foot C.J. Toth catamaran for a cruise to the island then tour the lighthouse, observe wildlife in their natural habitat in the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, hunt for shells along the beach, dine on a picnic lunch, play on the lawns around the lighthouse or simply unwind and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds them. A special treat when visiting the island is a climb to the lighthouse tower that affords magnificent views of Long Island Sound and, on a clear day, of the New York City skyline.

A special offering by the Seaport Association is the Wednesday Sunset Harbor Cruises from 6:30 p.m to 9:30 p.m. This relaxing sunset cruise on the Seaport’s new 45-foot ferry is a spectacular way to explore the beauty of Fairfield County’s “gold coast”, Norwalk Harbor and Long Island Sound. Advance reservations for the popular sunset cruise are strongly recommended.

A favorite of young and old alike is the Thursday Evening Clambake at Sheffield Island Lighthouse. Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for this famous Thursday night outing. A true New England dining experience, the evening allows participants to dine in the festive tented pavilion on the lighthouse lawn, with tours of the lighthouse itself included in the cost. Roundtrip cruise and dinner is either $58 or $78 per person, depending on entree. Advance registration only. To dine in the shadow of the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse and look out to the skyline of Manhatten is truly and unforgettable summer experience. The Clambake begins June 30, 2011 and runs through August 25, 2011.

The Seaport Association also offers a popular Bird Watching Cruise that leaves the dock at 7:30 am and returns at 10:30 am. Birding enthusiasts will join Larry Flynn, Master Wildlife Conservationist, Division of Wildlife, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, aboard the Seaport Association’s ferry, to learn about the birds that make Long Island Sound their home. The first tour for 2011 is Saturday, June 4 from 2 pm to 4 pm. This years dates for the special birding crusies are: Sunday, June 12 and 26; Sunday July 10, Tuesday July 12, Sunday July 24, Saturday July 30, Sunday August 7 and Wednesday August 10. For reservations call 203-838-9444.

The ferry service to Sheffield Island is Monday-Friday — 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and on weekends and holidays the ferry runs at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Round-trip ferry tickets: $22 adults $20 seniors/NSA members $12 ages 4-12; $5 ages 3 and younger. To buy tickets call 800-838-3006 (24/7) visit the website http://www.seaport.org or call 203-838-2898 on the day of the ferry ride.

The ferry leaves from the Sheffield Island Lighthouse dock located at the corner of North Water Street and Washington Street in Historic South Norwalk. Parking is available adjacent to the dock and the Norwalk Maritime Center Garage. The 2011 Season begins May 28, 2011 and ends September 25, 2011. It is advised to arrive at the dock 15 minutes before departure.

The Norwalk Seaport Association was established in 1978 and stewards the Sheffield Island lighthouse, which celebrates 142 years as the jewel in Long Island Sound.