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


 

If “Shark Week” has made you fearful of jumping into the ocean, you might want to consider the dangers of tromping through American wetlands. Over the past decade, more people perished at the mouths of alligators than those of sharks in this country. Nine people have died from U.S. – based shark attacks, while 13 were mortal victims of alligator attacks.

Meanwhile, American crocodiles have never killed or even bitten anyone in their native Florida, but they certainly have the chops to do it. Three decades ago, their numbers had dwindled to about 300. Thanks to conservation efforts, they’ve moved off the Endangered Species list and now boast a current population close to 1,800.

In Florida, better enforcement of wildlife protection laws and suburban sprawl increase the chances of crossing paths with a croc or gator. So how do you take precautions to avoid a grisly crocodilian encounter? Both alligators and crocodiles are opportunists. They aren’t likely to go chasing you down on the poolside patio. Actually, if they’re out on land, they generally aren’t looking for prey.

However, if either reptile starts hissing or snapping at you, get out of his way, and if you can’t do that, call 911 and the operator will patch you through to a wildlife hotline. On a rare chance if you find yourself or a loved one clenched in the teeth of a crocodilian, experts say fight with all you’re might. Smack them and punch them in the nose, eyes, and head, and fight them with everything you have. Most of the time they’ll let go and move off.

At the Science Center, you can get up close and personal with gators in a much safer way.  In NatureWorks, you’ll find several baby alligators in our swamp.  And you can check out our live alligator feedings every day.  Check program schedules for details!

Gator


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A rare zebra-donkey cross, known as a "zonkey" or "donkra", has made its first appearance at a Chinese zoo since its birth on Sunday. The foal, which has stripy legs and pale stripes down its brown body, had a difficult birth at Xiamen Haicang Zoo. Staff had to turn the rare hybrid upside down to prevent it from choking. The donkra weighed 30kg and was nearly a meter tall at birth. Zoo staff said the female zebra mated naturally with the donkey after the pair were left together in the same enclosure.


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Up to 420 whale sharks recently gathered off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, forming the world’s largest known assembly of this species. With the largest whale shark ever measurring 40ft. long, with some thought to grow even bigger, this kind of gathering can be quite a sight!

Whale sharks can weigh more than 79,000 pounds and are solitary filter feeders that prefer to be alone in the ocean. The impressive shark assembly proves they will gather for the right reasons. Food now appears to be the draw.

Whale sharks are the largest species of fish in the world, yet they mostly feed on the smallest organisms in the ocean. In spite of their enormous size, whale sharks are not aggressive and move very slowly. Usually they’re seen in the ocean with their up to 5 foot wide mouths open, waiting for food to float in. Tests determined that the whale sharks were gathered feeding on coveted fish eggs from little tunny, a member of the mackerel family.

Whale_Sharks


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Florida is home to 45 snake species and 6 of those kinds are venomous snakes! There are two types of venomous snakes in Florida, the Crotalidae, or pit vipers, and the Elapidae. Included in the family of pit vipers are the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Canebrake Rattlesnake, Pigmy Rattlesnake, Cottonmouth (or Water Moccasin), and the Copperhead. The venom of these snakes is hemotoxic, that is, it destroys the red blood cells and the walls of the blood vessels of the victim and degenerates organs and tissue. The Elapidae, represented in Florida by the Eastern Coral Snake, have neurotoxic venom. This attacks the nervous system of a victim, bringing on paralysis.

With all these venomous snakes just in Florida it would be a good thing to have some of the new ointment being developed by scientists in Australia. Quickly applying a nitric oxide-containing ointment near the bite slows the spread of some venoms. While still only in research stages, this treatment might someday be the difference between dying on the road and getting to the hospital in time.

Worldwide, snakebite causes approximately 100,000 deaths and 400,000 limb amputations each year. Foot-to-groin venom travel times increased from an average of 13 minutes without ointment to an average of 54 minutes with the ointment applied. For now, especially in the United States where death from snakebite is much more rare than the rest of the world, the most proven and effective first aid for venomous snakebite is a call to 911 or a set of car keys.  In the future, the combination of ointment and pressure treatment might be the best way to slow the spread of snake venom!

To learn more about snakes, check out our NatureWorks exhibit! Not only do we have plenty on display, but enthusiasts who are eager to share their time and knowledge!

diamondback-rattlesnake_513_600x450


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As Father's Day approaches - and with it, long green days outdoors - here's a “card” that your child can make to last for years and years. Using a few simple materials from your local craft store, you can create an artistic garden stepping stone that shows your appreciation for Dad.

stepping_stone

 

What You Need:

  1. 1 5-lb. bag of dry cement, available in craft or hardware stores
  2. 1 cement mold (you can find plastic ones in many shapes at a craft store, or just use a sturdy corrugated cardboard base from a large pizza box, reinforced at the seams with a little duct tape!)
  3. Wooden paint stick for stirring
  4. Plastic bucket
  5. Chopstick or bamboo skewer for marking words in concrete
  6. Broken tile and/or round colored glass pieces (available at craft stores or, if you ask, at hardware or tile stores)

Read more...


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Orlando Science Center • 777 E. Princeton Street • Orlando, Florida 32803 • Phone: 407.514.2000 • Toll Free: 888.OSC.4FUN • Email: [email protected]
  Supported by the City of Orlando, Orange County, and United Arts of Central Florida with funds from the United Arts campaign and the State of Florida,
Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Privacy Policy