Archives for September 21, 2021

Aquarium receives tadpoles as part of critical effort to save endangered SoCal frogs after fires

Photo credit: Aquarium of the Pacific

Government and state wildlife agencies rescued the last remaining mountain yellow-legged frogs from local mountains after wildfires scorched their habitat last fall. The agencies then worked to find local institutions to take in the critically endangered frogs and tadpoles as part of a survival plan for the species. The Aquarium of the Pacific has built a lab and special home to house some of these amphibians as part of the conservation effort to increase their numbers in the wild. The first of these animals to arrive at the Aquarium of the Pacific are tadpoles, which will be raised with the goal of eventual release into the wild. 

“We built this facility at our Aquarium specifically for these mountain yellow-legged frogs to do our part to help their populations recover,” said Brett Long, Aquarium of the Pacific curator. The frogs’ ideal habitat is in cool streams at about 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is one of the specifications of the Aquarium’s behind-the-scenes home for these amphibians to ensure the best care possible. 

Partners on this project include the Aquarium of the Pacific, United States Geological Survey, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Los Angeles Zoo, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, Santa Ana Zoo, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, the Wildlands Conservancy, and University of California, Los Angeles.

Mountain yellow-legged frogs are native to California’s mountainous regions and depend on habitats in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto Mountains. Threats to their survival include extreme weather conditions that lead to wildfires and drought and the chytrid fungus that can cause life-threatening disease for amphibians. “Supporting this conservation effort, respecting signs announcing areas off limits to the public when visiting these local mountains, and reducing your carbon footprint are all things anyone who is interested in helping can do,” Long said.

Credit: The Aquarium of the Pacific.

Come From Away * Life-Changing Stories of Passengers Diverted to Newfoundland Following 9/11 Attacks

Come From Away is a 2021 American-Canadian musical film comprising a live stage recording of Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s 2017 musical of the same name, which tells the true story of 7,000 passengers who were stranded in a small town in Newfoundland, where they were housed and welcomed, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The film, produced in response to the shutdown of Broadway caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, was directed by Christopher Ashley and filmed in May 2021 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in New York City, featuring members of the Broadway cast. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katie F. comments, “Come From Away is a modern musical telling the life-changing story of the stranded passengers diverted to Newfoundland following the 9/11 disaster. With an incredible cast, catchy tunes and a moving tale Come From Away is definitely a film to watch.” Avalon N. adds, “This musical is a lot like the film Hamilton in that it is a live recording of the stage musical and is based on real historical events and people. It is about the aftermath of 9/11 when 38 planes were forced to land on a small Newfoundland island and tells how all the residents of the town of Gander took care of 7,000 people who were on those planes while they were stuck there for five days.” See their full reviews below.

Come From Away
By Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Come From Away is a modern musical telling the life-changing story of the stranded passengers diverted to Newfoundland following the 9/11 disaster. With an incredible cast, catchy tunes and a moving tale Come From Away is definitely a film to watch.

Twenty years ago, on September 11, two planes crashed into the world famous twin towers in New York City, after they were high jacked. American air space was closed and all planes in the air were forced to land; thirty-eight of them were diverted to and stranded in Newfoundland, Canada. This story follows the passengers and crew from one of the planes as they come to terms with life in their new surroundings, while forming new relationships and bonding with the locals. This is the filmed version of the award-winning Broadway musical, filmed live on stage at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in New York City, which tells the story of those 7,000 stranded passenger.

Throughout this film, twelve cast members each play a number of roles and it is very hard to single people out at times. All the characters are based on key individuals involved in the plane diversion. Some cast members who really stood out to me include:  Jenn Colella who plays one of the pilots and a townsperson, Annette. She plays sets the bar very high for anyone who might play these roles in the future. Her amazing solos and riffs will knock your socks off. Sharon Wheatly plays Diane and Jim Walton plays Nick, two people who meet on one of the planes and, throughout their time in Newfoundland, start to feel a connection. Sharon and Jim are both very talented and share and amazing duet, “Stop the World.”  The remaining cast members each bring something different to this amazing production in their own unique way, from comedy to heart-break. My favourite song is the opening song “Welcome to the Rock.” I love that it’s an upbeat dance number that introduces you to the cast and the characters they play. I don’t think I could choose a favourite part of the musical as all of it is just so interesting, moving and inspirational.

The message of this film is to remember how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away or changed forever. My thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this tragic event over the past 20 years.

I give Come From Away 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. It premieres September 10, 2021 on Apple TV+.

Come From Away
By Avalon N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Come From Away is an amazing filmed version of the Broadway musical. With all the singing and dancing, this show is sure to get you up and dancing.

This musical is a lot like the film Hamilton in that it is a live recording of the stage musical and is based on real historical events and people. It is about the aftermath of 9/11 when 38 planes were forced to land on a small Newfoundland island and tells how all the residents of the town of Gander took care of 7,000 people who were on those planes while they were stuck there for five days.

This musical is different from most because there is no main character; every character is equally important. Also, all the actors play two roles, often both a passenger and a helpful Newfoundlander. The costume changes are incredible as they often do them while on stage, but that is so small that you might not notice it. Another cool thing is that in the back of the stage there is a door that some people walk through and then it shuts again, which I found intriguing. Some of my favorite characters are Kevin and Kevin, who are dating and Bonnie, who takes care of animals. One of my favorite scenes is when people are walking on chairs and others keep moving the chairs and the stage rotates so it looks like they are moving. It has so much music. I continued listening to it right after I finished watching the film and listened to it while i was writing this review.

The message of this show is twofold. First, that you can make the best of any situation and second, when you can help others, try to help.

I give Come From Away 5 out of 5 and recommend it for ages 12 to 18 plus adults. It is available on Apple TV+ now.

Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty * Totally Engaging; Makes Us Want To See More

Continuing the dramatic tale of survival revolving around three families of meerkats who are descendants of the legendary meerkat matriarch, Flower. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Dominic D. comments, The latest series, Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty, is totally engaging and makes us want to see more of our favorite mongooses.” See his full review below.

Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty (2021)

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Many of us live in areas where Mother Nature brings a variety of seasons which exposes us to a wide array of ecosystems. Because we’re used to this variety, we have become incredibly curious about areas of the globe whose ecosystems are perhaps not as vast; one area in particular is the desert. With its harshly hot and dry climate, we know that anything able to withstand such brutal weather has to be an amazing creature and that’s one reason we have completely fallen for the South African meerkat.  The documentary series Meerkat Manor has entertained us for over 15 years and has brought the wondrous secrets of the Kalahari Desert right into our homes. The latest series, Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty, is totally engaging and makes us want to see more of our favorite mongooses.

Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty follows three families of the most charismatic desert mammals and showcases their family dynamics. In the spotlight of this series is Swift, the granddaughter of the original Meerkat Manor Whisker family matriarch, Flower. We’ve waited 12 years to catch up on what the Whiskers, Hakuna Mata and Ubuntu families have been up to and there are many surprises within this series as some things have changed. The new series continues to show us just how difficult life in the desert can be, yet with the perfect family dynamics and role assignments, animals can overcome these challenges. Just like in our own lives, people compete for space, food, and other resources, the meerkat families are no different. These episodes highlight that, despite the fact that the meerkats share a common bloodline, individual survival and the survival of their family is their main concern.

There are a lot of great things about this series, but my favorite part is the character led story telling by narrator Bill Nighy. The series humanizes the meerkats and gives each their own entertaining personalities. There are heroes, villains, babysitters, a Romeo and Juliet pair, and so much more. These personalities are hilarious and interesting to watch. The cinematography is also fantastic with its capturing of some of the most harsh weather conditions on Earth. I especially enjoyed the scenes where the camera was placed deep within the meerkat burrows. Meerkat Manor:  Rise of the Dynasty is a captivating series about the natural world and I appreciate its educational value.   

The message of this series is about teamwork.  Of course, family, culture and perseverance are worth  mentioning here also; however, if this species didn’t have a system of working together, they could not thrive within their harsh ecosystem. Each meerkat has a specific role to support its family. They work cohesively in a variety of ways to assure the success of their family. Whether their role is one filled with drama or with entertainment, one thing is for certain – these desert dwellers are sure to tug at your heartstrings.

I give Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 18. Adults, especially animal lovers and nature enthusiasts, will also love this series. Meerkat Manor: Rise of the Dynasty is available now on BBC American and AMC+. Episodes 7 and 8 are coming out on September 4 and September 9, 2021. 

It’s National Potato Month at Islands!

September is National Potato Month and what better way to celebrate than with the New Truffle Fries and Ghost Pepper Fries at Islands! I had the opportunity to try them both and I absolutely loved them! I think the Truffle Fries are my favorite! I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Islands and they have the most delicious food and drinks!

Islands is one of my favorites (as many of you know) but I actually tried something new this time! The Huli Huli Crisp which is hand-breaded fried chicken breast with fresh pineapple, swiss cheese, lettuce, mayo, and island Huli Huli sauce! Absolutely delicious!

The Huli Huli Crisp

I will definitely order this one again! A friend of mine tried the Moa Crisp and she really liked it too!

Also, you can’t forget the drinks! I love the Mangorita and they have a Watermelon Margarita for a limited time!

The fun doesn’t end there–starting September 1st through September 30th, Islands will also be hosting a Lucky Potato Contest at all locations where each day one lucky take-out customer will receive a lucky potato with their order which will contain a coupon valid for a free basket of Islands Hand-cut FriesLucky Potato winners are also encouraged to post their lucky potato on Instagram through an IG story or in-feed post for a chance to win free fries for a year! The winner will be announced on 10/1. Rules to enter include:

  • Follow @IslandsBurgers
  • Include #IslandsLuckyPotato

Self Disclosure: I received a fun media kit and had the opportunity to visit Islands. Photo Credit: SoCal City Kids.

Kids ‘N’ Pets is a product you will want to try!

If you have kids and pets you must have an instant all-purpose stain and odor remover on hand! It also needs to be safe to use around kids and pets. My favorite is Kids ‘N’ Pets because it is non-toxic, cruelty free and biodegradable. I can safely use it around my pets. I also like that it is safe to use on so many different surfaces. I just recently tried it in my car and was amazed at how well it works.

A dog and two cats are special members of our family and Kids ‘N’ Pets is definitely a product that I have used many times. I also discovered that it is wonderful at getting dog smells out of blankets. I simply added 1 cup to a load of laundry and washed the blanket as usual.

Kids ‘N’ Pets can also be used to clean and deodorize Kitty litter boxes. I continue to use this and am happy at how well it works. I was also happy that my cats used the litter box after. Sometimes they can be quite picky about smells.

This stain and odor remover has quickly become one of my favorite cleaning products and I will continue to use it! You can find it here.

Self Disclosure: I am participating in the Kids ‘n’ Pets Ambassador program and received free samples/compensation to post. Photo Credit: SoCal City Kids.