The Santa Barbara Zoo on Saturday welcomed hundreds of young girls dressed as princesses, and their families, to raise awareness about threats to the world’s amphibians.
“It’s called Princess Day; it’s a celebration for frogs,” explained Dean Noble, the zoo’s marketing director. “The more we can do to get the word out about amphibian conservation, the better for us all.
“It’s a bonus if we can connect kids with the natural world and (another) bonus if we can connect girls with science.”
Princess Day drew a large crowd, which included hundreds of young girls dressed as princesses and many young boys dressed as princes, superheroes, pirates and frogs. The theme undoubtedly stems from the Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog, which is based on a classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale.
“This is a fun way to talk about a serious issue,” said Rich Block, the zoo’s CEO. “The world’s amphibians are in trouble, and there are no easy answers to stem the shocking drop in their populations.”
Fortunately for attendees and zoo staff, the sky was clear and the sun was out.
“Thankfully, (Princess Day) wasn’t last Saturday,” said Noble, referring to last weekend’s storms.
Upon arrival, guests were greeted by “Princess Belle,” from the Disney classic The Beauty and The Beast, and “Alice,” from Alice in Wonderland. Although not a princess, Alice drew a large crowd of young girls who were eager to meet their favorite movie character.
Further inside, the zoo provided a variety of activities for the young royals. Attendees lined up to take professional photographs with “Anna” and “Elsa” from the hit movie Frozen, which recently won the 2014 Oscar for best animated feature. Young girls approached Elsa hesitantly, fearing she would utilize her movie superpower and freeze those around her.
Many of the boys flocked to the rock-climbing wall, a new addition to this year’s Princess Day.
“The rock-climbing wall is new,” Noble said. “This is the first time we are testing it out, and the story behind that will be climbing into a condor nest to check on a chick.”
Similarly, girls flocked to the makeover station, provided by the Paul Mitchell School in downtown Santa Barbara. This station was perhaps the most popular activity; at least 20 young girls waited patiently for a turn to get their hair and nails done, and complete the princess look.
Other activities were aimed at raising amphibian conservation awareness.
“In the center we’ve got some activities, we’ve got some crafts, and our keepers are bringing out amphibians every half-hour or so,” Noble said. “We’ve also got keeper talks at a variety of exhibits throughout the zoo.”
While some of the young princes and princesses appeared timid around the movie characters, others were eager to learn more about the amphibians. One girl, no older than 3 years old, held out her hand to touch a medium-sized snake.
All in all, the event was a success. Both children and parents enjoyed a beautiful day at the zoo and learned more about amphibian conservation.
“It’s always a very popular day,” Noble observed. “There are many young ladies that come every year and many young men, too.”