Exhibit Hall

Now Open on Level 1

This hands-on exhibit hall celebrates the richness of the natural world, with a special focus on the diverse ecosystems of Central Florida. Visitors discover the insects, plants and animals of coral reefs, salt marshes, mangrove swamps and other Florida environments. They learn how living and non-living things interact with each other and their environment.

The dramatic centerpiece of NatureWorks is Florida’s Habitats, a glimpse into the natural world of Central Florida. In this realistic exhibit area, visitors explore the distinctive environments of Sand Pine Scrub, Cypress Swamp, Pine Flatwoods and Sinkhole Lake. There are also ample opportunities for guests to encounter live animals during regularly scheduled presentations.

  • Observe a typical cypress swamp, complete with live alligators
  • See how sea turtles make their nest at the sandy beach
  • Discover the intricate system of roots at the mangrove swamp
  • Watch how bees build their hive, care for young and gather nectar at the BeeHive Encounter


 

Who says that tigers and orangutans can’t be friends?  National Geographic Kids Magazine reported that zookeepers at Taman Safari Zoo in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia have helped form friendship bonds between meat eating tiger cubs and baby orangutans, who in the wild spend their time in trees to avoid predators like tigers.

tiger-orang-snuggle-lg

The reason zookeepers decided to pair up these unlikely friends was because both sets of animals were essentially orphans. Tiger cubs, Demis and Manis, were rejected by their mother so the zookeepers paired them with another set of orphans, Nia and Irma the orangutans. The four-some were quick friends and played with toys, wrestled, and took naps together.

Zookeeper Sri Suwarni noted that even though they kissed each other and were great friends, as the tigers got older, their more aggressive side came out and they had to be moved to another exhibit. Suwarni is not giving up on peaceful relations between carnivorous cats and tree swinging primates. Now two more apes that Suwarni is raising have made friends with a leopard cub!


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Answer: They both are going to help save the very endangered cheetahs in Africa!

Dr. Laurie Marker proposed using wood chippers and guard dogs to help out wild cheetahs in Africa. Because cheetahs move so fast, up to 70 miles per hour, running through thick, prickly thorn bush undergrowth was blinding them. This prickly thorn bush is starting to cover Namibia, so the injured cheetahs were preying upon livestock, causing farmers to trap and/or kill them. The wood chipper will cut down the prickly thorn bushes and the chips from the bushes will be sold as ecoblocks, which is used for fuel in South Africa and Europe.

Dr. Marker, along with the Cheetah Conservation Fund, have set up a program to give farmers large Turkish Kangal dogs to scare off cheetahs. These dogs are special because they bond with the herd. The result of these dogs have shown an 80% drop in livestock losses, which means fewer cheetahs are being killed by farmers.

Who knew two very simple solutions would help save endangered cheetahs?

Cheetah

Misty is an Animal Care Technician at the Science Center and is found in NatureWorks. Animals and Ecology are her passions and she jumps at every opportunity to talk about it. Stop in and say Hello!


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According to National Geographic a group of 23 Mandrill Monkeys at the Colcester Zoo in England have been displaying a learned habit that could prove that monkeys have culture, too! For the last ten years this population of mandrills, regardless of sex and age, have been covering their eyes for up to 30 minutes or more at a time. Scientist cannot be positive but after observation they believe that when the monkeys cover their eyes it is a, “Do Not Disturb,” sign to the other members in the group.

It began with one individual, spread to the others, and has now been passed through one generation of the monkeys. Mark Laidre, an integrative biologist at the University of California, Berkley, has studied this population, 19 other mandrill communities around the world, as well as contacted other long term primate observers, and those studied at the Colcester Zoo are the sole exhibitors of this characteristic. Since the eye covering has been passed through a generation it can be seen as a learned cultural component to this particular group of monkeys!

Mandrill_Monkeys


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Happy news occurred on January 14 - a baby black rhinoceros was born at the St. Louis Zoo! The baby is a boy and weighs 120.5 pounds. This is an important birth because the black rhino is critically endangered. There are only about 4,240 black rhinos in the world. The reason why the black rhino is so endangered is because they are heavily poached for their horns. Many Asian countries believe that their horns have medicinal powers.

However, with the joyous birth of this baby boy, and hopefully more births to come at zoos throughout the world, this new generation will be able to go back out into Africa and continue the survival of the species. If you would like to learn more about the black rhinoceros and their fight for survival, please visit: http://www.rhinos-irf.org/black.

RhinoCalf_mom_Jan11


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National Geographic reported that a new hybrid of minke whale was discovered in the Arctic. The whale DNA indicated that it was a hybrid of two different types of minke whale, Antarctic and Northern. This was very surprising to scientists because these two different type of whales also have two very different migratory patterns that keep them separated my many miles at all times of the year, or so they thought. The DNA of this hybrid whale, caught in the northeastern Atlantic in 2007, proves that at least once these two types of whales came together and were able to breed.

So, why would these two whales even be relatively close to one another when they have such different migratory patterns? The answer may have something to do with a drop in the supply of krill, the tiny crustacean that fuels the Antarctic food chain. Japanese studies show that the drop in krill, in the 1980's-1990's, coincided with a drop in Antarctica minke in the Southern Hemisphere. Scientist speculate that as the food supply decreased whales may have gone scouting for food and found their way to the Arctic Circle and the northern minkes. Scientists now have some work on their hands to find out if this whale was a stroke of luck or a new tendency in the animal kingdom.

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777 E. Princeton Street • Orlando, Florida 32803 • Phone: 407.514.2000 • TTY: 407.514.2005 • Toll Free: 888.OSC.4FUN • Email: [email protected]
  Orlando Science Center is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of power2give.org/centralflorida and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts.
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