Jun 25

Omaha Children’s Museum: Fantastic Family Fun

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The Omaha Children’s Museum was a fantastic family fun outing during our time in Nebraska.  We take our children all over the place.  Mainly to see things that we want to see.  Hoping that they will like it.  But to a 3-year-old waterfalls, museums, and hikes all kind of run together after a while.  So when we can we really like to take them to place that is all about them.  The Omaha Children’s Museum was such a fun outing for them. 
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Located in the downtown area of Omaha. Which worked out great for us because it is close to other things that we wanted to see.  Larger than we thought it was going to be.  The Omaha Children’s Museum has 60,000 square feet of fun learning exploration space for kiddos.  The museum has eight permanent exhibit areas as well as special exhibits.  From art to auto shop the Omaha Children’s Museum has an area for just about any kid’s interest.  We really enjoyed the amount of variety in their different areas.  It really kept our kids interest up which made our time there fly by. 
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As for us, we spent a lot of time in the kid’s kitchen/supermarket area.  It is amazing that when we have a kid’s kitchen at home and it is hardly used.  But go to a children’s museum and it is like pulling teeth to get them to see other parts of the museum.   Not saying that they did not have fun in the other areas once we got them there.  Our youngest had a blast with the water table.  It was nice that it was the perfect height for her. Not too tall she could not reach and not to low that she might fall in.  My favorite area was the “Super Gravitron.”  A gigantic ball machine where balls travel along tubes and rails to a central location and then drops sending the young ones scrambling to do it all over again.  My wife’s favorite was the stairs.  Each step played a musical note.  All-in-all it was fun place. 
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The Omaha Children’s Museum like many children museums have similar things to what we already have at home.  Just bigger, better and more of it.  So justifying the price for places like that is a little hard for me to swallow.  However, I think of all the places we go as a family and to be able to take my girls to a place that is all about them from time to time is well worth it.  We do not go to that many Children’s Museums but when we do my girls have had a blast every time. 

To see our reviews of other Nebraska attractions, click here

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Omaha Children’s Museum
Located at 500 S 20th St. Omaha
Hours of Operation Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday 9 to 5 and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.
Cost as of this Posting Adults and Children $12 2 and under free
For more information visit the Omaha Children’s Museum website at

Jun 23

Great Zoo Exhibit: Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley

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Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley is the latest outstanding exhibit on display at the Sedgwick County Zoo.  Located in Wichita, Kansas the Sedgwick County Zoo is the number 1 rated outdoor attraction in the state.  Now with the Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley, the zoo’s newest and most expensive exhibit, there number one status should be cemented for years to come. 
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This is a state of the art exhibit first opened Memorial Day Weekend, 2016.  It is the third largest elephant exhibit in the country.  Has over 5 acres of outdoor space, and an indoor facility.  It also lays claim to the largest elephant pool of any zoo.  An important aspect for them to keep cool on those hot summer days.  Like so many zoos in the United States the Sedgwick County Zoo is just the latest to revamp their elephant habitat. 
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Karen and I were extremely impressed by it.  Even more so after we visited the now open but not completed African area at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha.  Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley has 2 main yards.  The 3.6 acre South Yard has a 550,000 gallon pool and a water canon to give the elephants a nice shower.  The North Yard is 1.2 acres also has a wading pool, stream and waterfall.  There are two additional off-display yards to give the animals some privacy and an 18,000 square foot indoor facility.  
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Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley coupled with the Pride of the Plains makes for a premier African animal’s exhibit.  We have always like visiting the Sedgwick County Zoo and now our trip there is even more enjoyable.  They have made several key improvements to an already wonderful zoo.  With this latest piece Karen and I will have to start to rethink our Top 10 Zoo List

To see our other reviews of Kansas attractions, click here

Sedgwick County Zoo
Located at 5555 W Zoo Blvd, Wichita
Hours of Operation: March to November 8:30 to 5 from November through February 10 to 5
Cost as of this Posting Adults 12 to 61 $14.95,, Seniors 62 and over $11.95 and Children 3 to 11 $9.95
For more information about the Sedgwick County Zoo visit their website at

Jun 22

Pioneer Courage Park

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Pioneer Courage Park is a downtown Omaha memorial dedicated to those that settled the land.  This monument to those pioneers begins at Pioneer Courage Park and ends at the Nebraska Wilderness Park.  Together these two parks have more than 100 individual bronze statues giving a glimpse of the daring tenacity of the pioneer spirit. 
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We really enjoyed our stop at the Pioneer Courage Park.  First it is free.  Second the sculptures are very well done, extremely lifelike.  Third instead of just having some bronze wagons with some pioneers.  The artist turned it into an action seen.  A wagon train spooking a herd of buffalos which sends a gaggle of geese to take flight.    
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The Pioneer Courage Park was nice stop for our family.  My eldest daughter liked seeing the larger-than-life statues.  The park was a nice place to take a stroll and get out in enjoy the weather. As a history teacher I enjoy seeing things that are tied to historical events.  So far my growing family tolerates that passion.  Hopefully that trend will continue as my girls grow up. 
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We travel a lot and like to see as much as we can. Unfortunately, most things come with a price. So when we come across a free attraction we flock to it like a pioneer to good land. 

To see our reviews of other Nebraska attractions, click here

Pioneer Courage Park
Located at 1400 Capitol 1601 Dodge St Omaha,
Cost as of this Posting; Free
For more information visit Pioneer Courage Park Website at

Jun 20

Great Plains Nature Center: Wichita

27194865954 b099b75d85 z Great Plains Nature Center: Wichita
Great Plains Nature Center is located in Wichita’s Chisholm Creek Park.   It is a great free attraction in Kansas.  Since there was no cost we figured it would be a wonderful opportunity to get out and stretch our legs during our road trip.  It was.  Great Plains Nature Center is one of the best of its kind that we have ever been to.   
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It is a large complex.  The 282 acre Chisholm Creek Park has over 2 miles of paved trails that wind through woodlands, prairie, and marshland.  While the nature center has close to 4,000 square feet of educational displays, interactive exhibits, and a 2,200-gallon fish tank.  If you want to learn all about the flora and fauna of the Great Plains this is the place to do it. 
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My eldest daughter soaks up information like a sponge.  So she was in paradise.  Reading sign after sign, doing the interactive exhibits, and constantly going back to the touch tables.  My youngest likes nothing more than to be strapped into the baby carrier and go for walks.  So best of both worlds for my girls.  As adults my wife and I also found lots of interesting things to see and learn about at the center.  Our favorite had to be what we would call the “relaxation grotto.” A room at the back of the center with a large bay window overlooking a pond.  Just in a short time in the room we had a family of geese and a turkey stroll by. 
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The trails next to the Great Plains Nature Center were also a lot of fun.  I had never seen so many freshwater turtles in my whole life.  For a quarter we got an ice cream cone full of turtle food to feed them.  The girls enjoyed dropping the pellets into the water and watching the fish, turtles and ducks frolic about.  The Great Plains Nature Center is a nice oasis in the city. 
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The whole family enjoyed our time at the Great Plains Nature Center.  If we lived in the area I could easily see that this is the type of place, where we would spend lots of days.  The hiking trails were great.  The nature center is top notch.  Wichita has really got a good thing going here. 
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To see our reviews of other Kansas attractions, click here

Great Plains Nature Center
Located at 6232 E. 29th Street North, Wichita, KS
Hours of Operation Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost as of this Posting: Free
For more information about the Great Plains Nature Center go to their website at

Jun 19

Cowley Lake Waterfall: Kansas

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Cowley Lake Waterfall is a beautiful waterfall located in Kansas of all places.  Growing up in the Jayhawker State I always thought that I had to head out east or west to see a significant waterfall.  A land that is rumored to be flatter than a pancake could not possibly have one. Boy was I wrong.  Cowley Lake Waterfall is a hidden treasure.
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Located just north of the Oklahoma border 15 miles east of Arkansas City off of US Highway 166.  Situated at the end of the road at Cowley State Fishing Lake.  This scenic waterfall does not have much fanfare.  Just a small sign that says “waterfall” with an arrow that points the way.  Basically I just drove to the end of the dirt road and once there I could hear the falls.
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I saw Cowley Lake Waterfall early in the morning and had the whole place to myself.  I am not for sure if it gets busy being kind of the middle of nowhere.  From the small parking area there is short walk to the overlook of the falls.  The view of the falls is nice from the overlook, but you can also take a short trek down an unofficial trail to the base of Cowley Lake Waterfall.  The waterfall is very scenic due to the exposed rock behind it.  There is a nice variation of different sediments with the lower rock being a beautiful red color and the above being a sandstone.
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If you do decide to take the hike down be careful.  Good thick-soled shoes would be a nice thing to have since there are gobs of broken glass all over the place.  Also watch your head as you start down the trail and come back because the trails begin below a single strand of barb-wire.  It is kind of a steep trail with some rocks to maneuver around but doable.  Either from the overlook or from the base Cowley Lake Waterfall is a sight to see.

To see our reviews of other waterfalls, click here

Cowley Lake Waterfall
Located at 20467 US Highway 166, Dexter Kansas
Roadside Falls
25 feet in Height

Jun 18

Birmingham Zoo

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The Birmingham Zoo was a get out of the car and walkabout stop for us.  Heading out on long drives was never a lot of fun but with two young ones in tow it can be excruciating.  Luckily there always seems to be something to see or do in this great land. So as we seek out places to stop to get our girls out of the car for a spell we came across the Birmingham Zoo.  It turned out to be a nice break for us.  It was a much bigger and better zoo than we thought the city of http://plainadventure.com/tag/birmingham/Birmingham might have. 
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Home to 950 animals on 122 acres.  The Birmingham Zoo has a large collection of African and North American animals.  Its two signature exhibits are the nicely done Trails of Africa and the Alabama Wilds & Barbara Ingalls Shook Black Bear Trail. It housed a larger variety of animals than we expected.  We figured they would have lions, tigers, bears, and possibly elephants.  However, we were surprised they had hippos, seals, and a large variety of reptiles and birds. 
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The zoo is laid out in a different pattern than other ones we have been to.  Instead of having a circular path, The Birmingham Zoo was laid out more in a tree like pattern.  The entrance being the trunk and having branches that lead to different animal exhibits.  So it is a bit of a walk to see all the exhibits.  No complaints from us though I did hear a few visitors comment about the distance. 
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Like most zoos we have visited there seems to be a concerted effort to increase the size of the animal enclosures.  Birmingham Zoos newer exhibits seemed to take that to heart with a nice size African elephant yard and a large black bear enclosure.  Some of their more dated exhibits seemed to be a bit on the cramped side, but the animals seemed happy and healthy.  Happy and healthy animals always make for a great zoo experience. 
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Overall, we enjoyed our visit to the Birmingham Zoo.  Not the greatest zoo we have ever visited but it has a certain quality about it.  The girls enjoyed the visit and chance to get out of the car for a while.  Getting a chance to experience something nice and help the girls travel gets two thumbs up in our book. 
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To see our other reviews of Alabama attractions, click here

Birmingham Zoo
Located at 2630 Cahaba Road Birmingham, Alabama
Hours of Operation 9:00 a.m. to 5 P.m. Monday Wednesday and Thursday, the rest of the week 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Cost as of this Posting Adults 13 and over $16, Seniors 65 and over $14 and Children 2 to 12 $11
For more information visit their website at

May 21

Creative Discovery Museum: Child’s Play in Chattanooga

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Traveling through Chattanooga, Tennessee with little ones in tow is a little easier after a visit to the Creative Discovery Museum.  No worries about getting a good night’s sleep.  This hands-on children’s museum will tucker not only them out but you as well.  The Creative Discovery Museum had a wide variety of fun, interactive exhibits.  Our M and M’s (3 and 1 years old girls) had a blast.  We did as well. The Creative Discovery Museum is one of the best children’s museums we have ever been to. 
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The Creative Discovery Museum has over a dozen permanent interactive exhibits.  Mostly dealing with STEM topics, but they also have areas for art, music, nature, and medicine.  They have it all.  Ingenious in the design they even have a quiet place “library” for kids and families to go to unwind.  Great idea especially for little kids.  Give them an area to recharge before going back for out for more is such a blessing for parents.  They also have temporary exhibits so check their website to see what they currently have on display. 
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We enjoyed our visit completely.  One of the many places we have seen on our journeys that we wished was in our hometown.  Top to bottom we had a blast, but there were a few areas that our girls kept going back to.  Their gigantic Riverplay area was huge hit.  They loved playing in the water and our oldest like sending the boats down through the different chambers.  Our oldest also enjoyed playing in the jungle gym area.  As a bonus for me as she asked me to follow her through all the twists, nooks, and crannies.  Personally I enjoyed their Rooftop Fun Factory playing with the different simple machines.  The rooftop also provides nice views of the city. 
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Ideally located in Chatanooga’s downtown area.  The Creative Discovery Museum is within walking distance to many different restaurants, their Riverwalk area, and their incredible aquarium.  If you do visit the aquarium keep your ticket because you can get an admissions discount to the children’s museum.  The hard part for us was figuring out the best way to spend our time. 
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To see our reviews of other Children’s Museums, click here

Creative Discovery Museum
Located at 321 Chestnut St, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Hours of Operation 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day of the week with extended hours during the summer months.
Cost as of this Posting: Children and Adults 2 and up $13.95
For more information visit their website at

May 19

Fall Creek Falls: Tennessee Waterfall

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Fall Creek Falls is Tennessee’s largest waterfall.  Located in Fall Creek Falls State Park.  One of the best state parks that I have ever visited.  My trip there was a basically a drive by but still got to see some stunning scenery.  Also realized that a drive by is not going to cut it next time I visit that part of the state. 
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At 256 feet it is the highest free-fall waterfall east of the Mississippi River.  At least that is what they claim.  Other states claim that due to the Fall Creek Falls nature the top part as you can see in the photographs makes Fall Creek Falls first dozen or so feet count.  I am not one for semantics.  I just know that it is beautiful and worth a visit.  I highly recommend going in the spring because Falls Creek Falls has a sister waterfall Coon Creek Falls that flows right next to it.  It is seasonal but it does make for a more impactful viewing. 
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A person can view Fall Creek Falls from the parking lot.  Wonderful views there.  However, if physically inclined to do it.  There is a short but very steep trail down to the base of Fall Creek Falls.  I took the hike down and while it was easy going down but a bit of a dyspneic (my word of the day I might as well use it) causing journey on the way out.  It was well worth it.  

To see our reviews of other waterfalls, click here

Fall Creek Falls
Located at Fall Creek Falls State Park, Spencer Tennessee
Roadside Waterfall
For more information about the state park visit their website at

May 17

Mississippi Museum of Natural Science

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The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science is one of the best museums of its kind around.  Our family enjoyed our visit.  Unlike most natural science museums the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science seems to have as many living animals as dead ones. Other ones that we have visited are just filled with static displays.  Not bad but now that we have seen this our perspective has changed.  While our daughter likes looking at fossils and stuffed animals seeing some of them move brings on a whole new more fulfilling experience. 
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The largest museum in the state.  The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science is gigantic.  Here is just some of its stats: 73,000 square feet of exhibits, 2.5 miles of nature trails, 300 acres of natural landscape, a 100,000-gallon aquarium, and a 1,500 square foot greenhouse.  There is a lot to see and do there.  They also have temporary traveling exhibits.  On our particular visit we got to see “Tiny Titans” an exhibit on dinosaur eggs and babies.  It was really well done and my three-year-old daughter and our resident dinosaur expert loved it. 
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My wife and I really enjoyed how the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science caters to kids.  From their choice of temporary exhibits to the hands on areas they had.  At some natural science museums kiddos can get a little bored just looking at fossils all the time.  Here, however there seemed to be unlimited options on keeping them entertained.  The aquarium, the swamp area with reptiles and amphibians, the number of prehistoric fossils to look at, and last but not least the nature trails. There was so much to do there. We found the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science to be a great family friendly education place to visit. 
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The only thing that could have made it a better visit for us was the weather.  It started to rain just as we were pulling up to the museum.  From what we saw from the windows the outside nature area looked lush and a fun place to take a stroll.  We did enjoy sitting inside and watching the birds come to the many feeders they had up.  But our first and only visit, so far, was a strictly indoor trip.   My family still had a blast.  My favorite part was their “Swamp” an indoor greenhouse filled with amphibians and reptiles in a recreated swamp.  My youngest daughter enjoyed the aquarium.  Watching her fingers and eyes follow the fish, turtles, and frogs dart about was a lot fun.  My wife enjoyed the static displays and the variety they had.  She also enjoyed the short informational signs about the exhibits.  Our oldest wants to know what everything says so sometimes the shorter the better. 
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Overall, I was really impressed with the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.  The admission price was cheap which is great for our growing family.  The exhibits were topnotch.  We enjoyed the great variety and types of exhibits that they had on display.  Definitely a place we would stop again the next time we have to make the drive through Jackson, Mississippi.   

To see our reviews of other Mississippi attractions, click here

Mississippi Museum of Natural Science
Located at 2148 Riverside Dr. Jackson MS
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 8 to 5 Saturday 9 to 5 and Sunday 1 to 5 closed all major holidays
Cost as of this Posting: Adults $6 Seniors 60 and over $5 Children 3 to 18 $4
For more information visit their website at

May 14

Chattanooga Zoo

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Woo Woo! The little Chattanooga Zoo Zoo.  Oh wait… I think that was so supposed to be Choo Choo.  Either way for a family with two little ones the Chattanooga Zoo was a fun family outing.  At just over a dozen acres this is probably the smallest zoo we have ever reviewed.  I will say to their credit it did not feel that small going through.  The exhibits were well designed.  Grounds were clean and the animals seemed happy.  All three things that make for a good zoo visit in our book.
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No lions, tigers, elephants, or bears to say oh my.  Actually glad about that.  Not enough room for them so unlike some zoos the Chattanooga Zoo made, in our opinion, better choices.  They have a nice collection of smaller animals.  Lots of monkeys, a very nice red panda exhibit, reptiles, and birds make up most of their collection.  Our children are young enough that seeing any animal that is different from the ones they see around the neighborhood fillls them with excitement.
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The Chattanooga Zoo is divided up into 5 themed zones.  The Gombe Forest is their marquee exhibit.  Two waterfalls, a troop of chimpanzees, some reptiles and other animals make this one of the better stops at the zoo.  Not to say the others were bad.  In fact, every themed area in the zoo was of similar quality. Corcovado Jungle with its nice jaguar exhibit area.  Along with the Himalayan Passage with its Snow Leopards and Red Panda are worth seeing.  My two girls liked the Warner Park Ranch a farm petting zoo area.  Chattanooga Zoo also has a nice large mountain lion exhibit in their Walkin’ the Tracks section. Like I mentioned before they have no large animals on display, but what they do have is a nice variety that is fun to see.
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I was really impressed with their cat exhibits.  The mountain lion has a viewing platform that is inside a train car.  The jaguar exhibit in their Corcovado Jungle area had multiple views for the majestic cats.  However, my favorite is their snow leopard area.  Our home town zoo has snow leopards but their exhibit is so crowded with plants and sits on a hill that it is hard to get a nice view of the animal, one of my favorites.  Here they had nice size yard with a large rock cropping complete with waterfall.  My wife’s favorite was their red panda facility.  It is the largest indoor red panda exhibit in the country.
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We have now traveled through the Chattanooga area twice in the last 4 years.  Each time we walk away with a greater appreciation for the area.  Chattanooga has turned into quite a fun little trip. The wonderful state parks within a few hours’ drive, a world class aquarium, history, and this fun family friendly zoo.

To see our reviews of other Tennessee attractions, click here

Chattanooga Zoo
Located at 301 North Holtzclaw Avenue, Chattanooga
Hours of Operation: Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day
Cost as of this Posting Adults 13 to 65 $8.95, Seniors 65 and over $6.95 and Kids 3 to 12 $5.95
For more information visit their website at http://www.chattzoo.org/

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