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Road Trip

Aquatic Adventures and a Dolphin Birthday

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

WHERE: Northwest Washington, Prince George's County and Baltimore.

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WHAT: A swimming calf, sweet treats and an amphibious ride.

HOW FAR: About 60 miles from start to finish.

Kids and cute animals go together like peanut butter and jelly. To foster this relationship, the National Aquarium in Baltimore has set up play dates for children and their pals from the sea.

This month, the aquarium kicks off a roster of child-friendly programs, including Tots & Tales story time and Little Explorers: Stripes and Polka Dots, a scavenger hunt designed for ages 3 to 5. For the aquatic adventure, children and their parents will get the run of the place in the wee hours (8:15 a.m.) in their quest for patterned critters. Aquarium visitors also can spend the breakfast hour with dolphins (3 and older) or share personal (deck) space with them during a 2 1/2 -hour Dolphin Encounter (8 and older).

In July, the aquarium expanded its pod with the birth of a female Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, the eighth healthy calf to be born there since 1990. The baby, which has yet to be named, will not appear in the dolphin show, but you may catch a glimpse of her coming up for air in the back pool.

And next weekend the aquarium will throw a birthday bash for Foster, a playful male bottlenose born last September. No need to bring a gift: Blue-icing cupcakes will be on sale to benefit a fund to buy toys for the animals.

-- Jada Bradley

National Aquarium in Baltimore: 501 E. Pratt St., Baltimore. 410-576-3800. http://www.aqua.org. $21.95, seniors $20.95, ages 3-11 $12.95. Celebrate Foster's birthday Saturday and Sept. 14 during regular hours. Tots & Tales takes place Wednesdays at 10 a.m. through October (free with admission). For dates and times of Little Explorers: Stripes and Polka Dots, Breakfast With the Dolphins and the Dolphin Encounter (prices vary, reservations required), call 410-576-3833 or visit http://www.aqua.org/immersiontours.


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