It was the perfect place to take the kids to watch the elephants, the monkeys and the giraffes, the Sarasotas Zoo says.
But the aquarium’s Carnival of the Living Seas exhibit, which opened this month in Sarasota, Fla., is an ideal spot for anyone looking for something new.
The exhibit, featuring the world’s largest giraffe, boasts a 30-foot-tall elephant and three-foot giraffe.
The elephant and giraffe are in the same enclosure and have been trained to act as one.
The giraffe has been given new eyes and ears.
And it can’t escape the camera.
In the opening ceremony, an animated giraffe was shown jumping and diving through a water tank.
Then, the exhibit featured two other animals, an otter and a penguin, both of which are trained to leap out of water and into a tank.
All three animals are shown in different settings and, of course, in different colors.
“The animals can be seen in different poses in the aquarium,” said Lisa T. Schubert, the chief executive officer of Sarasota Zoo.
“Each one has a different personality.
There’s a giraffe that wants to be a little more friendly, for instance.
And there’s a pengual that’s really protective.”
The giraffe is also able to leap.
“We’ve had the penguin leap out the tank and come over,” said Schubort.
“There’s nothing quite like being able to see the penguins in action, to see how they’re reacting and feel how they react.”
It’s an idea that may appeal to people looking for a new way to share nature with kids, said Dr. Jeffrey L. Tomsch, a wildlife veterinarian and curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.
“It’s an animal that you can share with other animals,” he said.
“This is an opportunity to show them something that is unique.”
The exhibit features more than 50 different species of animals, including giraffi, dolphins, crocodiles, and an iguana.
“You can actually touch the animals,” said Tomscha.
“Some are very tactile and some are not.
We’ve had an iguan come up to us and be a friend to a lion.”
The animals come in a variety of sizes, and some come in tanks of up to 15,000 gallons.
A special exhibit at the zoo showcases the giraffe’s unique swimming skills, while the zoo offers other animal-inspired activities like “The Elephant Show.”
“It is a unique place to see these animals interact,” said Sarasota resident and Sarasota native Lisa Schubert.
And the zoo has been the perfect location for children to experience the animals in the natural world.
“I’ve never seen animals in a place like this before, because they’re so rare and they’re very exotic,” said Sarah B. Bower, a Sarasota zoo volunteer who is a wildlife photographer.
“They’re beautiful animals, but they’re also extremely sensitive to touch and feel.”
Bower says it’s a joy to work with such a special animal.
“Being able to interact with them, they’re the sweetest, most sweet animals I’ve ever met,” she said.
She says the girabes are also a wonderful addition to the Sarasots zoo’s animals.
“A lot of them are very intelligent and they are quite good at navigating around the tank,” said Bower.
“And you can feel their attention on you when you’re out there.”
The zoo is also a good place to teach children about wildlife, Bower added.
“When we started the project, we were like, ‘Well, what is wildlife?
It’s the natural life that lives on our planet,’ ” she said, laughing.
“But now, I love to see them grow up and get to know them.”
But, even though Sarasota’s Sarasotans zoo is a keeper of its own, the Zoo is open to the public.
Bowers says that Sarasota has been a great place for visitors to come and spend time with animals, and the zoo is always open.
“If people want to come in, they can come in and have a great time, just like we do at the Zoo,” she added.
If you want to see a wildlife show at your favorite zoo, you can do so by visiting the Sarasotte Zoo website.