Location: 6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City, Missouri 64132 (in Swope Park)
Cost: Varies–check the Web site for current pricing
We took a family trip to the zoo today to check out the new Polar Bear Passage–although Peanut and I have been there to see the new polar bear, Efrit hadn’t been to the exhibit yet. One of the benefits of zoo membership is that we can take quick trips like these–spending only an hour or two at the zoo isn’t a big deal when you can go as many times as you want.
The entrance to the Polar Bear Passage is guarded by an enormous fiberglass statue of a polar bear. While I initially thought that the bear was super-sized for effect, after watching Nikita up close, I realized that this bear is simply life-sized. It’s ok to touch and feel the bear–you can get right up to it–so this would be a way for kids to get an idea of just how big this bear really is.
Although there are tons of signs in the exhibit itself, none of them are brailled, so it’s not friendly for the vision-impaired reader. My husband, who also has vision problems, has always said that his favorites are “big animals that move,” and Nikita definitely came through in this respect. He’s a huge white bear–high contrast on a beautiful fall day–and when he moves, he MOVES. (It’s surprising how fast a huge bear can book it!)
I can’t say that every vision-impaired child will be able to see the bear, but mine certainly could. He laughed and giggled while Nikita swam laps, pushing off of the glass wall of his tank. He definitely tracked Nikita swimming under water. He also liked the top of the water–watching the light play on the underside of the water’s surface and seeing the line at the edge of the tank worked for him. If your kiddo’s got some vision, it’s a nice day (the contrast won’t be there if it snows!) and Nikita chooses to move (sometimes, he sleeps. It’s tiring being a bear.), this is a great exhibit.