Long Beach’s Aquarium isn’t as large or as complex as some of the other California ones: Monterey, San Francisco, or San Diego. In fact, compared to places like Boston and Atlanta it seems downright tiny.

The focus of the aquarium in Long Beach the “Pacific Ocean” and those critters that we associate with such: penguins, rays, sharks, and sea lions. You can interact with both the rays and sharks in touch tanks… and the sea lions and penguins have shows/groomings/feedings throughout the day.

The one thing that Long Beach has over all the other cities listed above is the bird encounter exhibit: a.k.a. the Lorikeet Forest. Lories and lorikeets are an extremely colourful bird native to Australia where they are considered a pest, much like pidgins, gophers, and magpies. Flocks of thousands of birds often swoop into apple, pear, or corn field and decimate the crops.

This is not yet a problem in California, though I have encountered flocks of small parrots in Sunnyvale (Bay Area). They can be loud!

If you walk into the Lorikeet Forest carrying nectar, which you purchase for $3 at the entrance, the birds will swarm and land on you. They are able to drink nectar because their tongues have tiny hair-like appendages called papillae that allow the birds to soak up liquids and collect pollen from the blossoms.

One small cup is sufficient to get the birds interested… and you hold it like an ice cream cone (so they don’t knock it out of your hand in their frenzy). The calmer you are when they land, the longer they stick around, which makes little-animal-loving-kids happy.