“If children don’t grow up knowing about nature and appreciating it, they will not understand it, and if they don’t understand it, they won’t protect it … and if they don’t protect it, who will?” – Sir David Attenborough, Learning Through Landscapes, “Conserving Wonder”

Although Earth Day was April 22 it is never too late to celebrate. What better way to celebrate than to teach children about the planet’s ecology and the species that roam the Earth?

There are many ways kids can learn about species that include animals, sea life and insects. I don’t want to go into a debate over zoos and whether they help or hinder ecology; there are points on both sides of the debate. But I do want to touch on the roles the LA Zoo and San Diego Wild Animal Park played for the California condor.

In the 1970s, biologists found that there were only a few dozen condors remaining in the wild. In 1980 a major conservation project was started in an attempt to keep the birds from becoming extinct. The project members put radio transmitters on the wings of some of the condors and condor wild eggs were collected and hatched at two California zoos. A few birds were taken to the zoos for captive breeding. Unfortunately this aid came too late for the majority of the birds, whose population declined in the wild. In the mid-1980s all of the remaining condors in the wild were captured and taken to zoos. The last wild condor was captured in 1987. Where once the population was in the thousands, at that time it was down to just 27 birds, according to California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

“The first condor chick hatched out in 1988. Within a few years, it was clear that captive breeding was working. The captive condors had produced more than 100 eggs by 1994. Nearly 20 chicks hatch each year at the four captive breeding centers. The total population grew from 27 birds in 1987 to 161 birds by mid 1999. As of 2016, the total population was 446. Captive-bred condors have been released in central California (including release sites in the Big Sur area and Pinnacles National Park), Southern California, Arizona and Baja, Mexico. The Arizona population has expanded into Utah,” according to California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

I think the California condor cam is one of the reasons a lot of people know about the plight, and success, of the condor. It’s a bird reality show, so-to-speak. That website is

Watch this condor cam with your kids or grandkids. See just how majestic these birds are.

Closer to home, take your kids or grandkids on a walk. If you are lucky enough to be able to live near a protected open space, let them explore. Exploration can be done anywhere – from the sidewalk outside an apartment building to a school playground to a park. Let your child or grandchild watch bugs. Use that time to educate. My grandson and I will watch ladybugs forever. A while back my grandson and I were watching bees in the yard. We talked about how important bees are for the environment and what they do. We then went to the library and got books on bees. This small act of observation and education is a simple way for kids to learn about the Earth around them.

We also talk about the wash and how, if garbage is thrown into it, that garbage will flow to the ocean and hurt the sea life. We spend time cleaning the beach to protect the sea life and the creatures that live in the sand.

This is something I did when my kids were younger. Every walk was an adventure full of discoveries; every trip to the beach was an opportunity to learn about ocean life.

Sir David Attenborough is right; we can’t expect our children to protect something they know nothing about. It is up to us to teach them. It would be sad if, when our kids or grandkids grow up, they only saw animals in zoos or in photos and videos – not knowing the sound of the wild parrots squawking to each other or not seeing bunnies peeking out from behind bushes.

It will be nice walking-in-nature weather the remainder of this week with patchy fog at 11 p.m. then burning off by 11 a.m. Temperatures will have highs in the 60s. On Saturday the fog should lift to clear skies with highs in the 70s; those temperatures and clearing should continue through to Monday, according to NOAA.

An update on the spinning fish issue in Florida that I wrote about last week:

As of April 24, there were 43 sawfish mortalities, fish kill hotline reports 458 dead fish in total. Fish samples collected were 251 and 200 water samples were collected. To continue to follow this story, visit