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Just today I glanced at my calendar, noted the date and felt a mixture of relief and sadness. Relief because…well…this mama could use a break. Sadness because what I saw was that our summer is winding down and soon the kids will be back in school.
Those who have been following our Quest for a No Bummer Summer know that every summer this family immerses themselves in as much fun, adventure and recreation as our pocket books can take (and our aging nearly-fifty-year-old bodies can take). Our No Bummer Summer involves tons of family time and tons of outdoor time. Personally, it’s my mission as a mom to seek out the most fun, educational and interesting attractions and events in our fair state to share with our kids during the non-school months.
Here are some of our past No Bummer Summer Adventures:
Our Jake (age 12) and Sara (9) love zoos…actually our whole family adores animals and zoos. This year Jake and Sara suggested we do a “Zoo-a-palooza” this summer. Our goal with our Zoo-a-palooza is to visit every zoo possible in the state of MN, several of which we have never been to. Well this love of critters also expanded to animal sancuaries and educational centers and we knew of TWO super-good ones in one of our favorite towns; Ely, Minnesota.
Built in 2007, this was actually our family’s second trip to the North American Bear Center of Ely, commonly known as NABC.
We visited this intriguing center three years ago and had a ball. It is the perfect place to learn about not only the American Black Bear, but wildlife in general. One mile west of Ely, The Bear Center is a nonprofit museum with indoor and outdoor viewing of live black bears in a natural habit that includes a pond and waterfall. Visitors can view live bears from a safe distance since four-legged residents, Honey, Holly, Lucky and Ted are always within view if the large windows and balcony as they roam their 2.5 acre enclosure.
One thing that drew us back was the fact that the NABC recently completed an 8,000 square foot, 1.5 million dollar, addition to its main complex called the Northwoods Ecology Hall.
This new addition is an area filled with educational exhibits and displays. The educational mission of the NABC is to replace myths about bears with reality and education.
We also discovered that our Big, Gigantic 12-year old is the same size as an adult male bear. No shock to me since he certainly eats like a big bear.
The center as a whole has 50 video exhibits of wild Minnesota bears, a wide variety of daily programs, live online viewing via “bear cams” and a hands-on children’s room. I personally found the video about bear behavior super-intriguing. There was some great tutorials on some of their defense behaviors such as chomping (teeth clacking) and mock charging. There also was a wonderful movie being shown about how researchers were following, observing and filming a bear named Juliette and her cubs. Good stuff. I know our whole has more respect for these beautiful animals now. If your family is looking for some great educational fun, in one of the most gorgeous northern areas of Minnesota, I highly recommend a stop at the North American Bear Center.
**I was given discounted tickets for use in this review. Opinions expressed are purely my own