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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

I’m such a sucker for a feel-good story, especially when it involves my fellow fury friends. And a new IMAX film at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Born to Be Wild, gives you two feel-good stories for the price of one!

Cosmos Blog, Born to Be Wild, IMAX film, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Balboa ParkBorn to Be Wild takes audiences deep into two different remote locations, in Kenya and Borneo, where two dedicated women have spent decades caring for orphaned elephants and orangutans. Heeding the lyrics of the famous Steppenwolf song that gives the film its title, these two heroes of the earth truly “take the world in a love embrace” through their animal-rescuing efforts.

At her facility in Borneo, Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas has pioneered methods for rehabilitating and releasing Asia’s last great ape species. The film captures this process in which a female caregiver raises the abandoned orangutan from infancy as if it were her own child. Once it’s old enough, a male caregiver takes over to climb alongside it high in the trees, as the young orangutan is gradually reintroduced into the wild.

Thousands of miles away in Kenya, Dame Daphne M. Sheldrick developed a similar process with baby elephants at a complex she created with her husband. Also enlisting the help of a team of fellow caregivers, she knows the key to raising an elephant from infancy is to give it what any animal wants (speaking from experience): lots of play and attention! She is aided by four-legged ‘graduates’ of her facility who show the babes the best watering holes in the wild before returning them to the facility before curfew.

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, Born to Be Wild, is not a wildlife film; it’s a film that just happens to star animals. What more could you want?

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TJ writes: Dear Cosmos, as much as my family and I can’t wait to hit the waves this summer, we want to make sure we don’t miss any great activities in Balboa Park. Can you give us the heads up on this summer’s must do’s?

Cosmos: From May through September, my calendar fills up quickly with near-daily concerts, festivals, and performances throughout Balboa Park. Thankfully, many summertime activities are scheduled afterhours (5 p.m. or later), and some museums even offer extended hours, so beach hounds like you can enjoy the best of both worlds!

Near the top of my list of “mutt musts” is the free Twilight in the Park concert series in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, which presents a wide range of musical genres on three weekday evenings each week—all species welcome. The Organ Pavilion also hosts the International Summer Organ Festival on Monday nights.

While you’re napping off a full morning of dog paddling, bi-pedal members of your pack should check out The San Diego Museum of Art’s summer blockbuster From El Greco to Dalì (opening July 9), a showcase of five centuries of Spanish master paintings. The San Diego Museum of Art will also present my favorite pet-friendly outdoor film series, Screen on the Green.

Speaking of films, your animal-loving family will definitely want to shake the sand out of their sandals long enough to see Born to Be Wild in IMAX at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, which I’ll review next week. They can then extend their break from the summer heat by chilling out in the Natural History Museum’s newest exhibition Ends of the Earth: From Polar Bears to Penguins.

That’s of course just a drop in the beach bucket. Stay tuned to this blog for more tips on how to make the dog days of summer what they really ought to be—dawg days.

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There are dog-friendly events in Balboa Park and then there are really dog-friendly events. And this Sunday’s free Bark in the Park concert in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion ranks near the top.

Not only are pooches and their families in attendance treated to howling good animal-themed tunes played on the world’s largest outdoor musical instrument, but adoptable hounds, present and future, benefit as well.

For the fifth year in a row, Dr. Carol Williams, San Diego’s Civic Organist, is throwing all her four-legged friends a big juicy bone by organizing this annual event that supports the efforts of the San Diego Humane Society. She is accompanied on the organ’s new console by special young guest and co-organist Suzy Webster.

In addition to the concert, which begins at 2pm, everyone in my pack is invited to walk their leashed human companions across the Organ Pavilion stage in the traditional parade of pooches. And since everyone will be watching, this is an ideal opportunity to don your favorite threads.

This is also a great time to meet prospective new additions to your family at the San Diego Humane Society’s mobile Pet Boutique, where you can also pick up information and ask questions about adopting pets from shelters. All proceeds from Bark 5 in Balboa Park benefit the San Diego Humane Society.

Art Alive

Speaking of worthy fundraisers, this weekend also marks the 30th anniversary of The San Diego Museum of Art’s Art Alive exhibition. Being named after a flower, I’m quite partial to this annual showcase of over 100 floral interpretations of artworks in the museum’s galleries. And Sunday, May 1, is the final day of this three-day display.

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With kids out of school and universities on break, it’s an awful shame ocean water temperatures are still so cold. What to do? What to do?


Well, if you are looking to fill your basket this Easter week, Balboa Park will put you hot on the trail of some of the finest gems (better than eggs) San Diego has to offer. Whether you are hunting for the prettiest spring blooms or a spectacular museum exhibition, here are a few suggestions to get your snouts pointed in the right direction:


cosmos-blog_botanical-building_easter-lilies-2011Easter Lily Display. Nothing says Easter like a brilliant display of over 300 white Easter lilies, and once again, for the 52nd time to be exact, the Botanical Building is providing a colorful backdrop. In other words: go for the lilies, stay for the orchids.


All that Glitters. Speaking of gems, how about a jewel-encrusted Faberge egg. Or better yet, a Faberge pig? From natural mineral crystals to sparkling jewelry and fine art, this exhibition at the Natural History Museum is filled with enough bright and shiny objects to hold any pup’s attention.


Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman. Consisting of 11 of the British painter’s finest portraits, this remarkable display at the San Diego Museum of Art is the definition of good things come in small packages. But you better catch it soon; it closes on May 1.


Counter Cultures: The Secret Lives of Games. Though searching under shrubs for plastic eggs filled with candy may be the game du jour this weekend, this exhibition at the Museum of Man surveys the entire world history of non-chewable board games and card games.

Posted in Fun Botanical Stuff, Museums, Stuff to Do | add a comment

It’s not surprising that the top dog among all non-holiday festivals in Balboa Park is also the biggest of its kind—anywhere!

cosmos-blog_earthfair-2011_children-with-llamaIt’s not surprising that the top dog among all non-holiday festivals in Balboa Park is also the biggest of its kind—anywhere! Of course I’m talking about EarthFair, which in its 22nd year is still the largest free annual environmental fair in the world.


Promising to draw nearly 60,000 visitors, this Sunday’s EarthFair on April 17 will once again feature more than 350 exhibitors, three live music stages, a kid’s activity area, festive parades, an earth-friendly art show, and yummy animal-friendly food.


Whether you want to learn about organic gardening, preserving the environment, reducing pollution, making your home energy efficient, new trends in green technology, healthy living, or alternative medicine, and my favorites, pet adoption and animal protection services, the EarthFair has you covered.


As always, the event kicks off with a Children’s Earth Parade at 10:30am. All species are welcome as participants are invited to dress up as their favorite endangered ones. Though my kind isn’t exactly endangered, as you can tell if you’ve ever cruised by Nate’s Point Dog Park on a weekend afternoon, I always like to show my support for my fellow fury friends who are losing their homes.


cosmos-blog_earthfair-2011_childrens-paradeProviding additional entertainment throughout the day, the Moon Stage at Park Blvd. and President’s Way will present local contemporary music to get your haunches moving. The Folk Music Stage by the U.N. Building will offer, you guessed it, folk music. And a stage in the children’s area will feature music and storytelling for your entire litter (no pun intended).


For more details on all the activities, getting there, and doing your part to reduce your carbon paw print, visit the San Diego Earthworks website.

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