Archives for April 11, 2016



Harry Potter film talent, Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), and James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley), joined Universal Studios Hollywood’s President, Larry Kurzweil and the Hogwarts Express conductor to officiate today’s eagerly-awaited opening of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” at Universal Studios Hollywood.


More than five years in the making, and inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” has been masterfully recreated with impeccable detail as a real-world interpretation at Universal Studios Hollywood, marking its official open date as April 7, 2016.

Credit: Universal Studios Hollywood.

The Octonauts: Creature Encounters – Stealth Learning at its Best!


This stealthy science series dives into adventure with the fabulous underwater explorers, The Octonauts! On this exciting DVD, join the Octonauts as they encounter strange aquatic creatures of all shapes and sizes! Plunge into a red-hot lava cave as Peso and the team search for a teeny tiny water bear! Race to a colorful coral reef with Shellington as he tries to meet a special jellyfish that can live forever! And escape a scary moray eel with the help of Barnacles, Kwazii and a mysterious master of disguise – the mimic octopus! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Samantha A. comments, “While watching this show I noticed the how original it is. It’s the only TV I have ever seen about bears that helps creatures and kids seem to really enjoy that. I can say, that even as a teenager this captured my attention.” Morgan B. adds, “In this DVD, I learned about creatures I never knew existed! Who knew there were water bears that are so small you can barely see them unless you have special glasses.”
The Octonauts: Creature Encounters
Samantha A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

While watching this show I noticed the how original it is. It’s the only TV I have ever seen about bears that helps creatures and kids seem to really enjoy that. I can say, that even as a teenager this captured my attention. So younger kids would definitely be interested in this show and that’s good because then they’ll pay attention to all the important messages that it teaches.

Octonauts is a funny and creative show about a group of silly bears that go on adventures and help other creatures underwater. This show teaches important kids important qualities to develop such as generosity, courage and team work. It also teaches how helping is always a great thing to do. Besides teaching important character traits and messages it also teaches educational things too. During the show I noticed how they teach things to each other and take a deeper look at things to make sure the viewer understands. This is good because a kid can have fun learning new and important things without even knowing that they are actually learning.

The scenery in this show is also great. The bright colors and unfamiliar environment of the sea floor really keeps kids in tune with what they are watching. Also, the scenery really adds to the storyline of each episode and adds to the personality of each character. This makes the show more interesting to watch and often lead me to asking myself questions such as “what type of animal was on the screen” or “where were they were in the ocean?” These questions were answered soon afterwards and with lots of thought put into the answer.

I recommend this show for ages 2 to 7 because it is very educational and toddlers who watch it will be very intrigued by the colors, characters and scenery. This show also gets 4 out of 5 stars from me because, though it is educational and fun for little kids, sometimes it got a little too corny for me. I suggest that you show a younger sibling this show as soon as possible because little kids love it.

The Octonauts: Creature Encounters
By Morgan Bertsch, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

In this DVD, I learned about creatures I never knew existed! Who knew there were water bears that are so small you can barely see them unless you have special glasses. An octopus is a great actor and can camouflage himself into different animals to avoid being eaten. This DVD was fun to watch and I found it to be amazing.
The Octonauts are adorable. I love all the different characters of the recue team. The team consists of a white teddy bear, a penguin, a cat, a puppy, a rabbit and more. And, they all made me smile because they are huggably cute. They are great educators and are very serious about their mission to rescue sea creatures. I learned so much by watching the eight episodes on this DVD.
My favorite episode has to be Immortal Jellyfish. It is so cool. I had no idea that a jellyfish could start its life all over again and that it never dies unless it is eaten. Now, that is what I find mind- blowing and totally awesome.
My favorite character is Captain Barnacles because he is always calm and in control and I really enjoyed that about him. Also, he is very patent and has a plan no matter what. He really reminds me of my Mother! He knows a lot about the animals because he has a whole ship full of adorable animals that do research for the team and the animals in need of rescue.
The animation is crisp and clear. It really looks like the animals are right in front of me. I really wanted to jump right inside the TV and play and help them all.
My favorite part of this DVD was learning about the creatures and the strange things they can do and then seeing the real ones at the end. It is presented as a cute cartoon version of the creatures to explain what they are and what they do in real life. You learn while laughing and having fun. It makes science and marine biology seem very interesting. I would enjoy watching more episodes because the show takes on many extraordinary things I have never heard of before and made me feel very smart by the end of the show.
I recommend this DVD for ages 4 to 12. Adults will enjoy it too. Everyone could learn something new from watching this show. I give it 4 ½ out of 5 swimming stars.


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Credit: Disney On Ice.

Go WILD FOR THE PLANET at LA Zoo Over 5 Weekends, Earth Day to Endangered Species Day Saturdays and Sundays from April 23 through May 22, 2016 10 am to 4 pm Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens


The Los Angeles Zoo’s new WILD FOR THE PLANET debuts on Saturday, April 23 in celebration of “Earth Day” and runs on five weekends, concludingSunday, May 22, 2016, following “Endangered Species Day,” with activities, fun and information that all spotlight the importance of protecting the environment and its creatures.  Adults and youngsters can enjoy a day at the Zoo, home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered, with special opportunities, entertainment, information and tips about everyday ways to sustain and preserve.  Wild for the Planet takes place on April 23/24, April 30/May 1, May 7/8, May 14/15 and May 21/22, from 10 am to 4 pm.  All activities are included with paid Zoo admission.

Special animal feedings and zoo keeper talks underscoring conservation take place every weekend at 1 and 2 pm, with each weekend day featuring two animals, among them Tasmanian devils, giraffes, tigers, mountain tapir, chimps, elephants, jaguars, okapi, orangutans, pronghorn sheep, lions, gorillas, snow leopards, cassowary, zebras, Komodo dragons, tomistomas and flamingos.  Youngsters and families will also learn how to make a positive impact on the environment during an interactive puppet show, held at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm, starring a brave raccoon leading a quest to save an endangered species, assisted nobly by the Green Rangers – a.k.a the audience – along with a magnificent condor puppet inspired by the Zoo’s vital work with the California Condor Recovery Program.  Visitors can post their conservation action pledge to reduce their impact on the planet’s natural resources on a Pledge Wall, then encourage friends and family to do the same by sharing on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #WildForThePlanet for a chance to win a compost bin or tickets to the new “Dinosaurs: Unextinct at the L.A. Zoo” exhibit. (Official sweepstakes rules available at

Also featured is a colorful, wildlife-themed sculpture comprised of paintings of local threatened species, including the monarch butterfly, mountain lion, peregrine falcon and steelhead trout, made with help from 200 underserved Northeast Los Angeles youth in the Wild Art program of RuckusRoots, a sustainable non-profit arts organization.  Combining ecology, wildlife and art training the students created the sculpture in order to bring awareness of the diverse range of species that call Los Angeles home and to encourage viewers to consider ways in which humans, plants and animals can coexist harmoniously in our great city.  This sculpture was made possible in part by the Highland Park Neighborhood Council and will find its permanent home in the students’ community of Highland Park after its exhibition at the L.A. Zoo.

Other Earth-friendly actions that guests are encouraged to take include participation in the L.A. Zoo’s electronic device recycling program.  Each contribution of a retired cell phone, smartphone, iPod, iPad, tablet or MP3 player directly benefits animal conservation programs and reduces the demand for mineral mining that threatens the natural habitats of endangered animals such as the western lowland gorilla.

Additional activities are featured on the first and last weekends, April 23 and 24 and May 21 and 22, including photo ops with “Rascal the Raccoon” from10:30 am to 1:30 pm; fun at an Upcycling Inspiration Lab illustrating creative crafts people can make with recyclable materials; Worm Composting Demos from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works’ Smart Gardening Program on Saturday, April 23 and Saturday, May 21; and education stations focusing on “Earth Day” (April 23/24) and endangered species (May 21/22).  The Environment expo emphasizes local conservation efforts for the planet and animals with booths from organizations such as Channel Islands National Park Service, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Dept. of Public Works – Storm Water Program, Los Angeles Conservation Corp, Theodore Payne Foundation, The Climate Registry, Wild Birds Unlimited, National Park Service – Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Friends of the L.A. River and Bowling for Rhinos on April 23/24, and Theodore Payne Foundation, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Bolsa Chica Conservancy, Long Beach Aquarium and Los Angeles Sanitation-Solid Resources Citywide Recycling Division on May 21/22.

The Wild for the Planet schedule is available online at and is subject to change.

The landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, drawing 1.75 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered.  Its lush grounds on 113 acres feature the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles); Elephants of Asia; Campo Gorilla Reserve; Rainforest of the Americas, an extraordinary collection of endangered and exotic mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians living in spaces that exemplify their natural habitat in the rainforest biosphere; Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel; Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains, home to one of the largest troops of chimpanzees in the United States; Red Ape Rain Forest, where visitors can walk among orangutans; the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo; one of the largest flocks of flamingos in any zoo in the world; a botanical collection comprising over 800 different plant species with approximately 7,000 individual plants; and much more.  Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose members meet rigorous professional standards for animal welfare, the Zoo has achieved renown as an international leader in the preservation of endangered species and a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife.  The private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), which has supported the Zoo in partnership with the City of Los Angeles for more than five decades and provides funding for and operates seven essential Zoo departments, has 60,000 member households representing more than 240,000 adults and children.  As evidence of the Zoo’s popularity, GLAZA attracts one of the largest membership bases of any cultural organization in Los Angeles.

Admission to the Los Angeles Zoo is $20 for general admission (ages 13 to 61); $17 for seniors (ages 62+), and $15 for children (ages 2 to 12).  Admission for children under 2 and Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association members is free.

The Los Angeles Zoo is located at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways in Griffith Park.  5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA  90027.  Free parking is available.  For tickets and additional information, contact (323) 644-6001 or visit


Credit: The Los Angeles Zoo. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Zoo.