All program times are subject to change without notice.
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
Forest habitats are home to 80 percent of the earth’s plants and animals but only cover 30 percent of the planet’s surface. National Geographic reported the result of a report that was compiled by the nonprofit organization Conservation International for the United Nations’ International Year of Forests. The most threatened areas included have lost 90 percent or more of their original habitats. The following is a sample of some the threatened areas.
Indo-Burma Region- Spanning two million kilometers of tropical Asia, six new mammal species have been discovered there in the past 12 years but only 6 percent of the region is protected by environmental law.
New Caledonia- A small set of islands, about the size of New Jersey, located in the very extreme South Pacific, east of Australia, home to five native plant families. Although 22 percent of the land here is protected, 83 percent of the threatened species are not in the protected land.
Sundaland- About 17,000 islands in the western half of the Indo-Malayan archipelago, this area includes Borneo and Sumatra, two of the world’s largest islands. Animals such as tigers, monkeys, and turtles are not safe here due to hunting. Also, two species of the Asian Rhino, almost extinct, are found in this hotspot on the islands of Java and Sumatra.
The Philippines- Comprised of 7,100 islands in the westernmost Pacific Ocean, the Philippines are known as one of the world’s most biologically rich countries. However, conservationists fear that the forests of the Philippines are on the brink of extinction due to logging.
Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands- These islands off the coast of Africa are home to 8 plant, 4 bird, and 5 primate species that live nowhere else in the entire world. A whopping 50 species of lemur also call this forest hotspot home, including the undeniably cute mouse lemur. Although extensive efforts toward conservation are being made, especially on Madagascar itself, poverty and population growth are threatening the environment through activities like logging, mining, and hunting.
Click Here to learn more about other threatened environments and how you can help.
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.
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!
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?
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!
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!
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.