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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

First impressions of ‘Cavalia,’ in Atlanta through Nov. 15


Horse trainer Sylvia Zerbini, who appears in "Cavalia," unloaded a horse into its stable in Atlantic Station last week. AJC/Elissa Eubanks

I shouldn’t have been surprised last night when I walked into the White Big Top at Atlantic Station and thought, “It smells a little like a barn.” Of course it’s a little farm fresh — there are 60-some horses on tour with “Cavalia.” For all the controls we see on them, they’re still animals.

The Cirque du Soleil-like horse show opened last night for a run that lasts through Nov. 15. Normand Latourelle, “Cavalia” creator and artistic director, told me that his top priority is to please the eyes, and he succeeds at that. There’s not much of a story, but cool stage tricks, cool horse tricks and cool human tricks combine for something more unique than a concert, equestrian event or circus.

It looked like a packed house last night, but it was a see-and-be-seen opening for “Cavalia,” the night when political candidates, Real Housewives of …

Continue reading First impressions of ‘Cavalia,’ in Atlanta through Nov. 15 »

Stable-to-stage tour of ‘Cavalia,’ opening October 27


Some 65 horses arrived in Atlanta this week for "Cavalia," which opens Oct. 27. AJC/Jamie Gumbrecht

The biggest stars in “Cavalia” arrived in Atlanta by truck this week, with the U.S. and Georgia departments of Agriculture waiting to greet them. Some 65 horses in the Cirque du Soleil-styled rodeo unloaded into roomy stables erected in Atlantic Station. Check out these lovely photos of their arrival.

While the horses made their way to their tent, “Cavalia” creator Normand Latourelle took me on a short tour of the grounds. He’s never ridden a horse, which seems bizarre till he explains that he helped to create Cirque without attempting the trapeze.

He’s just all about happiness and beauty for the audience.

“I want everything beautiful,” he explained. “I want to please the eyes.”


Inside one of the eight large "Cavalia" tents.

He scouted Atlantic Station nearly five years ago for the first U.S. “Cavalia” tour, but it was a construction site then. Now that it has tidied up, he came …

Continue reading Stable-to-stage tour of ‘Cavalia,’ opening October 27 »

First look at Aquarium’s new “Planet Shark” exhibit

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Curator Craig Thorburn works on a display of a frozen mako shark and bluefin tune in "Planet Shark: Predator or Prey" at Georgia Aquarium. AJC/Phil Skinner

The world’s largest fish tank will soon offer visitors the world’s first look at a new exhibit, “Planet Shark: Predator or Prey.”

The new Georgia Aquarium exhibit opens Oct. 3, but we got the first look at it this week. (As always, I enjoy an up-close view of shark teeth and Shop-Vacs.)

It was developed in Australia and  moved into the Aquarium’s 10,000 square foot exhibition space, where its first views include intimidatingly large shark models, a row of shark jaws, piles of shark teeth — and the message that sharks ought to be more afraid of humans than we are of them.

“Planet Shark” curators Craig Thorburn and Mike Bhana dedicated an entire gallery to fishing practices and consumer products that lead to the deaths of about 100 million sharks every year, according to Oceana, an ocean conservation …

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Happy birthday, Zoo Atlanta pandas! Enjoy the (ice) cake!


Mei Lan enjoyed an ice cake for her second birthday in September, 2008. AJC file photo

The panda birthday bash at Zoo Atlanta this weekend will surely draw a crowd, and not just the kind the kind angling to get a corner piece of birthday cake.

Mei Lan fans want to celebrate the Atlanta-born panda’s 3rd birthday before she departs for China in mid-February. Zoo Atlanta is still trying to raise $500,000 to keep the other giant pandas here, but has raised only about $120,000 so far, according to the AJC story, “A panda party, parting.”


Kate Roca and Heather Roberts add bamboo to an ice cake on Sept. 16, 2009. AJC/Elissa Eubanks

You wouldn’t want to eat panda cake, anyway.

As in the past, Zoo Atlanta staffers put together ice cakes for their black-and-white beauties. The recipe changes a little every year, but giant panda keeper JT Svoke provided a list of ingredients and a details about what they’ll look like when, um, baked.

Note: I provide this information because it’s …

Continue reading Happy birthday, Zoo Atlanta pandas! Enjoy the (ice) cake! »

Zoo Atlanta’s Bornean orangutan might be pregnant again

Satu, with mama Miri. Photo by Zoo Atlanta.

Zoo Atlanta already has the nation’s largest population of orangutans, but it may be adding another to the family next year. From an AJC story published today:

Miri is still raising her last baby, Satu, born in November 2003, but keepers have observed swelling in her external reproductive areas and are hopeful she’ll deliver sometime early next spring.

Bornean orangutans are listed as endangered, and Sumatran orangutans are listed as critically endangered on the World Conservation Union Red List of Threatened Species.

Orangutans are the subject of the zoo’s Discovery Talk Series presentation tonight by Willie Smits, founder of Borneo Orangutan Survival.

Want to go? Orangutan Discovery Talk, 6 p.m. Sept. 3. $7, $5 for members. Zoo Atlanta, 800 Cherokee Ave S.E. in Atlanta’s Grant Park. 404-624-9453,

Continue reading Zoo Atlanta’s Bornean orangutan might be pregnant again »

Access Points: Chattahoochee Nature Center watershed exhibit

Lots of creative guesses on this week’s Access Point, but just a few of you knew it was a fish in the watershed exhibit at the Chattahoochee Nature Center’s new Discovery Center.

Scales on this fish are made from old CDs. AJC/ Jamie Gumbrecht.

Indeed, many recognized the fishy qualities of the photo, but you seemed convinced that it was the giant creature outside the Atlanta Fish Market. Others saw the CDs, and guessed everything from Hard Rock Cafe to AOL headquarters.

But it was commenter PJ who first mentioned the place — the new Discovery Center at the Chattahoochee Nature Center — and Smokey the Bandit who said it was the giant fish located there. Nice work!

This fellow isn’t just a fish, but a largemouth bass. If you’ve been fishing in Lake Lanier, you’ve caught one. He is one of about 13 animals made from repurposed household goods and on display in the new Discovery Center watershed exhibit.

Rope snake. AJC/Jamie Gumbrecht

Plenty of nature centers rely on taxidermy …

Continue reading Access Points: Chattahoochee Nature Center watershed exhibit »

Miley Cyrus’ whale shark swim not just Hollywood magic

Swimming with whale sharks at Georgia Aquarium. AJC file photo.

Miley Cyrus swam with whale sharks at the Georgia Aquarium this week while shooting for “The Last Song.” She climbed into the world’s largest fish tank as part of the film, which shot mostly along coastal Georgia. Reports Peach Buzz:

Spies on the set report that Miley took to the water right away in a specially made cobalt and red wetsuit created for her for the film (aquarium employees normally use less flashy and film-ready black wetsuits). Cyrus remarked to her mom (and film producer Leticia Cyrus) “how great” the experience was.

I didn’t have the customized fancy-pants-Hollywood-built wetsuit, but her dip into the water wasn’t a special effect either. I swam with the whale sharks last year for a story, which you can read here: “How to swim with (whale) sharks.”

I stick with my earlier assessment: it’s a fun and interesting experience, weird on the lungs and a clear reminder of the importance of personal …

Continue reading Miley Cyrus’ whale shark swim not just Hollywood magic »

‘101 Dalmatians’ musical to hit Cobb Energy stage in October

Fresh from the Department of Stage Wonders and Risks: “The 101 Dalmatians Musical” will come to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for eight performances Oct. 28-Nov. 1.

It’s not a Disney show, but is based on the book by Dodie Smith, and its creative team includes Tony-winning director Jerry Zaks, bookwriter and co-lyricist BT McNicholl and STYX co-founder Dennis DeYoung. And while it’s not 101, there are 15 live Dalmatians in the cast. (I have so many questions about how to wrangle 15 dogs on a live stage. I’ll let you know when I hear exactly how this works.)

There’s not much out there about the show because nobody has seen it yet — “The 101 Dalmatians Musical” debuts in Minneapolis in October; Atlanta will be the show’s third stop. It’ll head to Madison Square Garden in New York in April, 2010. Here’s a January 2009 Playbill article about it, “DeYoung, McNicholl, Zaks Create Musical 101 Dalmatians, Built to Tour.”

The show’s Web site says the story twists perspectives a …

Continue reading ‘101 Dalmatians’ musical to hit Cobb Energy stage in October »

Panda-inspired ice cream, then ‘Pints for Pandas’ tonight

Lun Lun at Zoo Atlanta. AJC file photo.

Lots of delicious news about pandas for today, as Zoo Atlanta continues its Give So They Stay campaign to raise $500,000. They’ll use the money to help extend the lease on pandas loaned from China.

First, panda ice cream:

Jake’s Ice Cream has just introduced the flavor Pandamonium, with 50 cents from every scoop sold benefiting Zoo Atlanta’s Give So They Stay campaign.

Pandamonium is a fusion of Sencha green tea, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg with a sweet cream base.

Jake’s, scooping its latest creation at its Old Fourth Ward and Emory area locations, hopes to raise $10,000 toward the panda campaign, which has received donations of $66,000 since its mid-June launch.

Not so much into ice cream? How about beer?

From Peach Buzz:

Sidle up to the bar at SweetWater Brewing Company Friday night for the Atlanta brewery’s “Pints for Pandas” tasting event. The evening featuring bottomless pint glasses will benefit Zoo Atlanta’s …

Continue reading Panda-inspired ice cream, then ‘Pints for Pandas’ tonight »

POLL: Atlanta’s uglier animal—naked mole rat or wolf-eel?

What’s uglier, wolf-eels or naked mole rats?

  • Wolf eels win the ugly war.
  • Naked mole rats reign on as the kings and queens of ugly.
  • Ugly? No way! They’re cute!

View Results

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A story about Georgia Aquarium’s new wolf-eels summed up their appeal with one visitor’s reaction: “‘Oh, God. Why display these? They’re so ugly.’”

The visitor isn’t being insensitive. Wolf-eels are not cute in any of the usual cuddly ways. If they’re cute at all, it’s because they’ve swum circles around “unattractive” and gotten back to some kind of see-for-yourself starting point.

Last time I heard so much chatter about an unattractive animal, it was the naked mole rats over at Zoo Atlanta. As we said in the AJC: “Ugly enough to make a freight train take a dirt road; so homely they have to sneak up on a bowl of water to drink from it; hideous enough to haunt a nine-room house from the front porch.”

(Ummm… we meant that in the kindest possible way. Of course.)

Let’s …

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