Family Fun at Tasmania’s Bonorong Sanctuary

Family Fun at Tasmania's Bonorong Sanctuary pin

The Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is small but well worth the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Australia and Tasmania’s most famous animals. Bonorong is the largest day long animal rescue service on the island, and are completely funded by the entry fees.

The goal is to get every animal back into the wild, but that’s not always possible. In that case, the animal has a safe forever home at the sanctuary. The Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is also a tourist attraction providing education about these animals and the importance of protecting them.

Family Fun at Tasmania's Bonorong Sanctuary sign

What to See at the Bonorong Sanctuary

We went to visit the Wildlife Sanctuary during our cruise to Australia and New Zealand when we stopped for the day in Tasmania The main attraction at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is the animals of course! There are animals at Bonorong that are extinct everywhere else in the world, such as the Tasmanian devil, the Eastern quoll, the Tasmanian pademelon and the Tasmanian bettong.There are also plenty of stories of survival to tug on your heartstrings, like Thumper, the wombat whose mother was hit by a car but she somehow survived until she was found in the bushes a couple of days later.

Other animals include kangaroos, koalas, wombats, emus, lizards, penguins and more! During the public tour, guests will have the opportunity to pet a koala and a wombat, and the admission fee includes a bag of kangaroo food to feed the friendly roos! It’s not at every zoo in Australia where you can touch a kangaroo or koala, and they’re the perfect photo ops for you and your family.

A Family Day at the Bonorong Sanctuary chilling

Don’t Miss

If you have the time, definitely book a behind-the-scenes tour (if you book a behind-the-scenes tour, it includes complimentary free admission to the sanctuary)! These three special tours will get you up close and personal with the animals and you will see things that most guests do not. Kids might get a huge kick out of the Feeding Frenzy tour, which is two and a half hours and is customized like the Bonorong Night Tours.

It takes place during daylight hours and features the animal’s eating habits. To this day, our kids remember the crazy Tasmanian Devil that paced back and forth in its cage like some evil monster out of a sci-fi movie, as well as the kangaroo joey that was waving to the visitors out of his mom’s pouch.

Family Fun at Tasmania's Bonorong Sanctuary meet

If you can visit at night, the Bonorong Night Tour is a two and a half hour group feeding tour in which your group will get to help hand-feed some of the animals and learn more about the rehabilitation efforts of the sanctuary. This tour takes place after the zoo has closed, and a group of up to six people will have their own tour guide.

 

For a more customized experience, they have the Private Premium Night Tour, which is similar to the Bonorong Night Tour except that it is three hours long, exclusive to just the people you came with and included a glass of sparkling wine or juice.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Children who participate in the daily tour will have the opportunity to pet a koala and a wombat.
  • It is advisable to come before 11:30, firstly to get there before the crowds and secondly to get there while the animals are most active.
  • There is some food available in the gift shop, but there is not a fully stocked café on the site yet, which is important to remember if your kids are picky eaters or suffer from food allergies.
  • The ground is uneven and steep in some places, so wear comfortable shoes and prepare accordingly.
  • Because of the uneven ground, the zoo offers free admission for guests in a wheelchair plus one companion to facilitate the guest needing assistance.

Family Fun at Tasmania's Bonorong Sanctuary guide

  • For safety reasons, Seeing Eye dogs are not allowed in the sanctuary.
  • The kangaroos can be somewhat aggressive when you feed them and might scare your child. There are also free roaming kangaroos that can get aggressive if they think you have food, so it’s not advisable for little kids to feed the kangaroos unsupervised.
  • Bring hand wipes as you and your child might be touching wild animals.
  • Advise your child to ask staff before touching any animal.
  • The smells might be a problem in some areas for kids who are smell sensitive.
  • Teach your kids not to throw any foods or wraps into the animal cages, because this can hurt the animals.
  • Prepare your children for the many different sounds of the animals since some of them might be loud and frightening.
  • The average time to walk the entire zoo premises is about an hour, but allow an additional forty-five minutes if you decide to join one of the daily public tours.

A Family Day at the Bonorong Sanctuary koala

The sanctuary is a fun and education experience for the entire family. There’s a lot of interactivity unique to this zoo and you can get up close and personal to the animals and their habitats. Our kids got a huge kick out of petting and feeding all the animals, and it gave them a new perspective on the land down under.

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China pin

Are you taking a trip to China with your family? Are you having trouble deciding where to go that would entertain not only yourself but also your kids? Have no fear dear travelers, for I know of a fantastic destination. This place is full of culture and life. It is rich with history and plenty of activities to do as a family. I have visited this country before but I will admit that I have not visited this particular city and sorely regret missing out on the opportunity. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the wonderful area of Guangzhou China.

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is the capital of and the largest city in Southern China’s Guangdong province . You can find the capital on the Pearl River, about 75 miles north-northwest of Hong Kong. Guangzhou is a major national transportation hub as well as a trading port. Due to this, you can find almost anything in the capital, and it has caused Guangzhou to be a part of one of the most populous metropolitan agglomerations on Earth. Here are four destinations in Guangzhou to check out when you visit.

Markets

The markets in Guangzhou are overflowing with goods and produce of almost anything imaginable. All you need to do is find a street and take a stroll. I can guarantee that you will eventually run into a market where the stalls and stores are lined up along the road. The air will rise in temperature due to the steam off of the vendor’s carts selling local snacks and meals. You will also find vegetables and fruit spilling from crates as passersby stop to examine and pick out a few local items for an on the go treat. Live hens will cluck softly to you as you pass. Be warned that the crowds are an easy target for pickpocketing. Overall the atmosphere is one of excitement and thrills as you stroll along listening to people haggle or gossip.

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Be aware that Chinese markets can provide a sensory overload to the western traveler.
  • If your family member with autism is sensitive to noise, be sure to bring a set of noise canceling headphones.
  • Those sensitive to smells might want to skip this adventure or prepare accordingly.
  • Some sights might not be suitable for little kids since the slaughter of animals and fish is done in the open.
  • Bring plenty of hand sanitizer, if your family member with autism is like mine and touches everything.
  • Although the prices are very cheap, the quality control is different than in the states.
  • Be aware there are NO western bathrooms available so have your family memebers use the  facilities in your hotel.

Guangzhou Zoo

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China panda

For the kids, you can take a stop to the Guangzhou Zoo. The zoo holds around 400 species and has become the leader of zoos in China for breeding animals such as chimpanzees, Asian elephants, and giraffes. The main attraction is the pandas. Children can watch as the pandas roam around and interact with the staff. There are also plenty of fun animal performances that allow kids to interact with different creatures while learning about nature and how to care for animals.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Be aware that the terrain is uneven and there’s quite a bit of walking to do. Closed toe shoes, an umbrella or walking fan is recommended.
  • Be sure to bring a bottle of chilled water from the hotel, as well as snacks.

Chang Long International Circus

Another must for you and your children is the Chang Long International Circus. The circus has performers from all over the world. Adult and child performers will perform in the ring. Audiences see dramatically choreographed music, lights, lasers, and fireworks the circus provides. Don’t be surprised if you see an animal or two flying above your head, as animals are integrated into the routine.It is relatively easy to get to the circus, the best mode of transportation is taking the metro which is incredibly easy to use seeing as how the lines are color coded and clearly labeled. About an hour away from the Guangzhou city center, you take metro line 3 to Hanxi Changlong, and there will be shuttle busses that will take you the rest of the way.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • If your child is noise sensitive, bring headphones and sit close to the exit in case it becomes overwhelming

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China man

Pedestrian Street

Another thing that is a must see is Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street. This street is in the Liwan District of Guangzhou. It is one of the busiest commercial streets in China and is a large tourist attraction for restaurants and food. If you are hungry, then I suggest heading here to try some local cuisine. There are plenty of places to eat and if you’re not an adventurous type, don’t worry. Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street holds many places that offer European style food as well.

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China bowl

Even if you are not overly bold, I still encourage you to try some of the more famous traditional food while you’re there, such as dim sum, the dish for which Guangzhou is known. Dim sum is various types of steamed or fried buns filled with ingredients ranging from beef, pork, shrimp or vegetables. Many vendors sell them, and it is traditional to drink tea while eating dim sum. Another dish you should try is roasted suckling pig, a traditional dish typically served at banquets. The technique of roasting and serving this pig goes back over 1400 years ago.

Four Family Friendly Attractions in Guangzhou China food

Guangzhou is an amazing place that you and your family will enjoy. There is so much to do, from taking a night cruise on the Pear River to visiting Yuexiu Park and seeing the famous five goat statue. No matter how long you are there for whether it be for three days or three weeks, Guangzhou will consistently provide you with new and wonderful things to do every day.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • A lot of the stores have a mini workshop in the back of the store in which artisans show how they paint glass and porcelain. Be sure to stop by one of these places.
  • The streets are very crowded, so make sure that you prepare your kid for staying in close proximity to you at all times.
  • This is the best place to buy souviners. Some haggling is in order.

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo pin

In light of recent events where a zoo animal was killed to save the life of a child, it is understandable that these facilities get a lot of bad rap from animal right’s activists and other groups. Admittedly, sometimes it is warranted. But in nearly all certified zoos, animals benefit greatly from various organizations and programs that are there to heal and rehabilitate while preventing the extinction of certain species and educating the public. Taking your children to places like the Moorpark Teaching Zoo gives them opportunities to experience and learn how creatures live. They can learn not only how to help animals after a crisis, but also how to prevent one.

Moorpark Teaching Zoo

There are two teaching zoos currently in existence in the US. One is the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo in Gainsville, Florida, and it specializes in training zookeepers. The second is in Moorpark, California, which is well-known in the Performing Animal industry circles. Moorpark Teaching Zoo is an academic institution attached to a college in addition to being a facility for animals. The zoo was featured in Animal Planet’s “Moorpark 24/7”.

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo bird

In 1974, the Exotic Animal Training and Management (EATM) program began with a lone wolf called Kiska. Since then, the zoo has become more well-known and sees many thousands of visitors a year. Graduates of the Moorpark Teaching Zoo get jobs in zoos, sanctuaries, animal parks, animal research facilities and aquariums across the country; especially as trainers. Many also go on to train animals to work in the film and television industry.

Moorpark acquires animals through donations as well as breeding programs. Loans from major zoos and research centers allowed for the building of additional enclosures.

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo wave

Because of its location, the zoo has been threatened by fires several times in past decades. The worst was in October 2003 where wildfires forced the evacuation of the zoo and animals. The facility was undamaged, but the surrounding hills burned completely. Unfortunately, Kermit the Noble Macaw, and Tango the Arctic Fox died due to stress-related issues caused by the flames. In October 2007, blazes again threatened the area and most of the animals were evacuated as a precaution. Thankfully, the flames did not reach the college. The animals safely returned after two days.

Currently, the zoo has over 200 types of animals including a Bengal tiger, African Lions, Spotted Hyena, Mountain Lions, a wide variety of Primates, birds, and many other exotic and endangered animals. Visitors can see creatures big and small; from eagles, possums, rattlesnakes, beavers, hedgehogs, chervils, goats, llamas, parrots, parakeets, gibbons, turtles, a Galapagos Tortoise, up to and including New Guinea Singing Dogs.

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo kitty

Be aware that the animals are in small enclosures and many are not authentic, naturalistic settings. Many of the animals come from abusive situations and may act aggressively or unusually. Many of the tour guides will be happy to tell you stories about the animals.

The Experience

There is a 45-minute informative show that introduces the visitors to some of the zoo’s animals. The seating is in a stadium. Make sure you grab an aisle seat if your kid is antsy or a front row seat if they want to see the animals up close. In the presentation, they showcase a few birds, reptiles and even the hissing Madagascar cockroach.

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo wing

Parents can budget around an hour for their children to see the residents of the outdoor enclosures. Student docents are around each cage to answer questions, and there are spots for animal encounters around the compound.

There is a VIP tour which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the zoo. They discuss training, feeding, and caring for their 130 exotic animals! They limit the number of guests to 15 people per group. They allow you to interact with some of the creatures.

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo beaver

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The zoo is small. You will not experience crowds or lines.
  • Parking: Disabled parking spots require a placard.
  • The pathways weren’t paved, but it is wheelchair/stroller accessible.
  • The zoo is clean, but there are some strong smells around some enclosures.
  • Since this is not a big tourist attraction, there are not many spots to sit or that have shade. Look for some benches around the monkey enclosures.

Family Fun at the California Moorpark Teaching Zoo possum

  • The area is mostly unpaved. Closed shoes are recommended.
  • It can get muddy after it rains in the winter. Come prepared with appropriate footwear. Bring a jacket since it can get windy in the hills.
  • In the summer, it can be sweltering and humid so dress your child accordingly.
  • Most of the exhibits are outdoors except for the reptile area. MAKE SURE YOU LOOK AT THE GROUND AS RATTLESNAKES MIGHT BE ABOUT.
  • The ground is uneven. Children who are unsteady on their feet or have balance issues may need help.
  • Younger kids may need a boost to see into most of the high-barrier enclosures.
  • Come equipped with sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • Bring and drink plenty of water! There are no concession areas.

Five Sensory Attractions Worth Visiting in Dallas

When someone mentions Dallas, Texas, some of us envision wealthy oil tycoons driving fancy cars, their wives shopping at all of the luxury stores, and of course, BBQ brunches.

Perhaps the successful 80 series with the same name fueled that stereotype a bit, but regardless, I admit that I never thought of Dallas as a place to take kids, especially kids with autism.
This all changed last November when we went to the family travel conference and attended some of the post-conference trips.

We discovered that Dallas is the perfect place to take kids with autism because it has multiple museums and tourist attractions that will provide an educational experience for your children without putting them into sensory overload.
We particularly enjoyed the Zoo, Aquarium,  Arboretum,  Perot Science Center, and the Sixth Floor Museum.And yes, we even got a chance to visit the TV set and gawk at the replica of Southfork, TV’s most famous ranch.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas view

The Dallas Zoo

The zoo was founded in 1888 as the first zoo in the southwest, and over the 100+ years that it has been operating, the zoo has grown from two deer and two mountain lions to over 2,000 animals.
Visitors can find a variety of unique exhibits, such as Giants of the Savannah, which is an exhibit that mixes elephants and other species within the same habitat, and the koala exhibit, which is the only one in the state of Texas, and one of just ten across the United States.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas lions

We’ve always enjoyed close animal interactions, and in Dallas, we were able to feed giraffes (we discovered their smooth tongue), hold an owl like Harry Potter (with the appropriate glove), watch young lions in training, and walk next to a hyperactive penguin.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas giraffes

Dallas Aquarium

With performances, restaurants, and (of course) the aquarium itself, the Dallas Aquarium is ideal for families with different interests.
There is a rainforest exhibit, several conservation projects with endangered animals, and an outdoor South African exhibit with penguins. The aquarium also has the more traditional aquarium animals – sharks, rays, sawfish, and more.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas fish
What is great about the Dallas Aquarium is the fact that it is on the smaller side, self-contained, and temperature controlled, which is a good option for kids that hate to be outdoors or that are temperature sensitive.
Our son loved standing in the glass shark tunnel viewing the giant predators swim overhead.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas shark tubes


The Dallas Arboretum
 

The Dallas Arboretum covers 66-acres of display gardens with seasonal flowers, ornamental shrubs, trees and plant collections, creating quite a lovely setting on White Rock Lake.
The Arboretum also has seasonal outdoor festivals, concerts, and art shows.

They also have two restaurants – Restaurant DeGolyer in the historic DeGolyer House, or the Lula Mae Slaughter Dining Terrace, overlooking downtown Dallas.

 

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas pumkins

We discovered the Dallas Arboretum is so much more than “boring plants”, which was my son’s initial thought when he first heard of our plans to visit.
We were treated to a magnificent array of colors, and especially enjoyed the pumpkin village, feeling new textures (they have over 28 types of pumpkins in various shapes and skin textures!), and enjoying the fragrant smells of fall.
Best of all, we got a rare chance to see a sampler exhibit from  Seattle’s famous Chihuly  Museum.

 

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas chaihuly
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science Center

The Perot Museum opened in December of 2012, is on a mission to “inspire minds through nature and science”.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas entrance

The exhibits here involve ALL  senses with interactive stations for the visitors to get information from buttons that provide sounds and smells of different animals and plants.
The earthquake simulator and motion activated lit walls, along with the stairs that make bubble sounds occupied our son for half an hour!

Although we’ve visited other science centers in the past, this one was different in that it provided a broader interactive platform for kids, and also provided an insight of how one’s interest in a particular aspect of science parlays in the real world into a career.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas dinasaur


Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza


The Sixth Floor Museum gets its name from its location on the sixth and seventh floors of the Texas School Book Depository, which is the actual building from which Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

The permanent exhibit on the sixth floor features memorabilia of JFK’s life, death, and legacy while the seventh floor shows temporary exhibits.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas sixth floor

The museum is compact, indoors, and temperature controlled, all bonuses for travelers with autism.A walk among the exhibits takes guests back to that period through visual and auditory items that help them relive history in a way few museums do.

Visitors can listen to emotional radio broadcasts as well as newspaper clippings that describe one of the hardest times America faced as a nation, from the actual place where it happened.

Five Sensory Attractions worth visiting in Dallas memorabilia

 

Have you been to Dallas and explored any of these places? What are your favorite sensory attractions across the world?

Disclaimer: The tours were hosted by VisitDallas for the participants of the Family Travel Conference.

 

 

 

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