Coming to the Science Center in Spring 2024
Life will tell the story of conservation through the animals that share our planet. Through direct encounters within immersive environments that simulate various ecosystems and hands-on exhibit experiences, visitors will better understand how their actions affect all living things, both within Central Florida and beyond. We are all connected.
Animals will be the storytellers of Life’s diverse habitats.
The exhibit will focus on three distinct world environments: Ocean, Rainforest and Swamp.
These areas will feature hands-on experiential learning that will vividly demonstrate our own interconnectedness with the natural world. Visitors will be engaged and empowered to take positive action to conserve our natural resources and protect our fragile planet.
Life will be a complete reimagining of our long-standing NatureWorks exhibit.
Step into the warm, lush landscape of the tropical Rainforest as you meander through this immersive exhibit. This temperature and humidity-controlled environment will feature free-flying birds of the rainforest, such as tanagers, honeycreepers, and blackbirds. Look to the canopy to see if you can spot a sleeping sloth or playful tamarin. Or simply relax to the sound of a 17-foot-tall waterfall cascading down into a pool filled with vibrant, freshwater fish.
Healthy rainforests have abundant biodiversity, driven by stable climate with high humidity, warm temperatures, and plentiful sunlight. The layers of height within the forest provide habitats for plants to grow and animals to thrive. Amazon rainforests absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide us with oxygen that we, like other animals, need to breathe.
Swim on down to the Ocean gallery where you will come face to face with a 360-degree viewing area full of colorful reef fish and sleek, shimmering sharks. Here you will find amazing interactive exhibits that highlight the crucial role that our reefs play in the environment. From live coral displays to hands-on experiences, you can “get your feet wet” as a marine biologist and learn how sea stars eat and how crabs grow!
The ocean covers most of Earth's surface and plays a huge role in life on our planet. It produces much of the oxygen we breathe. It regulates our climate and drives weather patterns. Teeming with an amazing diversity of life, ocean waters also provide fishes and other sea life we eat. Coral reefs and seagrass meadow habitats connect to the vast ocean beyond. They serve as breeding places, nurseries, and feeding grounds for all sorts of sea life.
The Swamp gallery will feature the iconic cypress swamp with towering cypress trees. Here, you will find Florida native species such as alligators and turtles taking a swim among the freshwater fish. Keep your eyes peeled and look up to see if you can spot squirrels running above your head through multi-dimensional tunnels. This area will also feature a presentation space for our beloved animal ambassadors, who will be making regular appearances to teach our guests how to be active stewards of the environment.
Almost anywhere you go in Florida you can find swamps: wetlands where trees grow! Some swamps sprawl across low-lying floodplains. Other swamps trace the edges of rivers or are shaped like doughnuts. Swamps change with the seasons: covered in water during wet times and dry when rains are scarce. Vital to wildlife, swamps provide food, living space, and breeding places for birds, fishes, and others. Vital to us, swamps filter and purify much of Florida's water supply.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the goal of this new exhibit?
Our goal is to promote messages of conservation and sustainability through this exhibit and its associated programming. By providing an engaging and immersive experience - which includes interactions with our animal ambassadors – we will inspire a strong connection with the natural world and empower visitors to become more active stewards of our planet
Why do you have animals on display?
What are your standards for animal care?
Orlando Science Center has a long-standing history of high standards, achievement and accreditation and we strive for this same level of commitment with our animal programs. We adhere to stringent animal care standards developed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to ensure the animals’ physical, mental, and social needs are met. We are currently enrolled in the Pathway Toward Membership program.
We partner with Winter Park Veterinary Hospital in Winter Park FL to provide 24 hour a day medical care. Each animal receives comprehensive health screenings which includes preventative medicine, dental care and nutritional counseling.
Our team is committed to quality and safety throughout all our programs, including subsequent accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition for a museum. In addition, we retain membership in the American Camp Association (ACA) for guidelines related to our break camps, adhere to standards set by the National Association for the Education for Young Children (NAEYC) related to our preschool programming and have achieved Gold (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for our building’s focus on sustainability and conservation efforts.
Where do you get your animals?
Orlando Science Center adheres to a responsible population management policy that ensures all animal acquisitions, dispositions, and transfers follow strict criteria and go through a thorough vetting process.
Our animal ambassadors are attained through a multitude of pathways, including state regulated government agencies, animal placement programs, wildlife agencies that have deemed an animal unreleasable due to its inability to thrive on its own, or from other zoological institutes.
We prioritize animal transfer plans through Association of Zoos and Aquariums member institutions and follow cooperatively managed population programs via specific advisory groups and species survival plans.
Can you take my animal to be an ambassador for Life?
Orlando Science Center has a responsible population management policy that dictates where our animals come from and where they go. We are not a rescue organization and unable to accept any exotic animals, including those species currently represented in our collection. If you have an unwanted exotic animal, please contact Florida Fish and Wildlife’s Exotic Pet Amnesty program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-483-4681.
This new exhibit is made possible thanks to substantial funding by the Orange County Mayor, Board of County Commissioners and the Orange County Tourism community. Thanks to their support and other generous donors, including presenting sponsor Dr. Sarah Layton, Orlando Science Center is creating an incredible new experience to highlight the amazing diversity of life and make a case for active conservation. Layton, an Orlando Science Center trustee, made the largest individual gift in Orlando Science Center’s history to support this project.
Orlando Science Center is dedicated to helping create a stronger and healthier world by educating our visitors using iconic exhibit experiences. As a Gold LEED-certified organization, we have the passion to teach by example. Direct encounters with animals and interactive experiences that reveal key concepts will create lasting memories and serve as a vivid, living resource to inspire others to protect this fragile blue orb we call home. We can’t wait to share more about Life with you in the coming months.