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


 

We see lizards scurrying around on sidewalks, buildings and just about everywhere, but have you ever stopped to wonder exactly what type of lizard they are? The two most common lizards to Florida are the green anole and the brown anole. However, do not be fooled by their similar names because these critters have their differences.

The green anole, also known as the Carolina anole, is the only anole species native to Florida. They are small lizards usually ranging from six to eight inches long – about half of which is comprised by its tail. It is also mainly an arboreal species, meaning they are primarily found living in trees or branches of trees.

The green anole's colors range from the brightest of greens to the darkest of browns, the latter of which typically indicates distress. Their diets consist mainly of small insects such as crickets and grasshoppers, but they have also been known to consume grasses as well.

brownanole

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On Tuesday, the city of Orlando will install three swan feeders at Lake Eola in an effort curb people feeding swans the wrong food, which can make them sick. Feeding the swans food such as bread or popcorn can lead them to become sick and even develop a syndrome known as angel wing.

Angel wing is a syndrome that affects aquatic birds and is due to a high-protein or high-calorie diet.

It is incurable in adults and results in the birds’ flight feathers to twist and protrude from its wings at odd angles instead of lying against the body. In extreme cases, the stripped feathers may appear as blue straw protruding from the wings.

royal_mute

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Until recently, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake used to be one of the most common snakes that could be found in the Central Florida area just hanging out in your backyard or residing near a body of water. The diamondback populates the woodlands and costal habitats from southern North Carolina to Florida; however, their presence continues to diminish as time goes on.  Due to indiscriminate killing, hunting and widespread loss of habitat, the number of diamondbacks has been steadily declining.

The eastern diamondback is not endangered, however. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced earlier this summer a 90-day finding for a petition to list the eastern diamondback rattlesnake as a threatened species. The organization is currently researching and reviewing the status of the species to determine if the threatened species classification is warranted under the Endangered Species Act.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has taken action by reaching out to state and federal natural resource agencies for information regarding the eastern diamondback and its habitat.  A number of different parties have come together to help address this issue, as one of Florida’s well-known habitants slowly disappears.   Once the review is complete, the listing of the eastern diamondback as an endangered species will either be: warranted; warranted, but precluded by other higher priority activities; or not warranted at all.

easterndiamondback


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On June 24 the world lost a superstar and an icon; at least within the wildlife conservation community. It was not a movie star, rock star or a reality TV personality… his name was George, "Lonesome George", and he was the last Pinta Island tortoise on Earth. Pinta Island is the northernmost island within the Galapagos Archipelago.

The islands are of course famous for Darwin, finches, strange iguanas, and of course, giant tortoises. The Galapagos Islands are situated about 620 miles off the coast of Ecuador and until fairly recent times were some of the most remote and desolate islands in the world. The islands are millions of years old and volcanic in origin and all native species arrived on the islands soon after their volcanic beginnings pierced the ocean surface. Animals and plants must have arrived by sea or air. The reptile fauna of the islands have ancestors on the mainland South American continent and traveled via either direct floating in ocean currents or on natural rafts of trees or vegetation. Reptiles are well adapted to surviving weeks at sea without access to fresh water or food. In fact, the only two non-marine mammal species native to the islands are two bat and two rice rat species.

6_could_be_Georgea

 

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Have you ever gazed up at the sky to see a colorful flock of Bachman’s warblers migrating south for the winter? Have you ever swum in the sea only to see a Caribbean monk seal playing freely? What about seeing an eastern Cougar stalking through the woods or a Goff’s pocket gopher digging a tunnel on the coast?

I bet you haven’t as these animals are extinct, gone forever and as of January 2011. There are however, more than 1,170 species on the brink of joining them.

Below are a few of Florida’s most wanted animals. They’re wanted not for being bad natured but because they’re so endangered and we would like them to stay around for future generations to enjoy.

The Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi)

Panther

Image Source: The Resilient Earth

Perhaps one of Florida’s most famous animals, serving as the state’s mascot, the Florida panther is also one of its most endangered. Their numbers have been dwindling toward extinction since the 1960s due to loss of habitat, collisions with vehicles, and genetic defects. Many people fear these big cats, which can grow 6-7ft. long, but they should know there are no recorded incidents of a panther attacking a person. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, before the Europeans arrived there were once more than 1,360 panthers in the wild but now there are only an estimated 100 left in south Florida.

Ivory Billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis)

Woodpecker

Image Source: Wikipedia

A bird so endangered, scientists are unsure whether or not it’s already extinct, the Ivory billed woodpecker has been reportedly spotted in the woods of North Florida, the cypress swamps of southwest Florida and swamp areas of central Florida. Is the bird extinct or elusive? Only time needed to repopulate and scientific searches will tell.

West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus)

Manatee

Image Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

These gentle giants grace the freshwater springs and costal waterways of Florida. Even though you would think living below the surface would protect them, they still face danger in the form of boating accidents, cold weather and pollution. Manatees are vital to our Florida ecosystems as they help prevent aquatic plant overgrowth and bring thousands of tourists to our state a year. Estimates place only a couple thousand West Indian manatees left in the wild, with the largest population residing here in Florida. These creatures have been around for millions of years and with caution, we can keep it that way.

These are just a few of the many Florida animals on the verge of disappearing forever. Luckily, there is still hope for the future thanks to rehabilitation and breeding programs. You too can help these animals by becoming more aware of threats to their lives and by supporting programs that ensure their survival. A few such programs include “adopting” your favorite animal for as little as $25, purchasing license plates where a portion of the proceeds go toward habitat protection and adding your name to online petitions. Together we can ensure these beautiful creatures survive and thrive for future generations to enjoy.

 



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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.
This project is funded in part by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program. Privacy Policy • Accessibility