The museum uses interactive exhibits to connect people, animals and plants in a natural, outdoor setting that truly combines learning with play. A long-time local favorite would be the Dinosaur Trail that has been around since the 1970s. The walking trail features a dozen life-size models of dinosaurs from the late Cretaceous period, footprints and a fossil-dig site. Visit domestic animals such as including donkeys, pigs and alpacas in The Farmyard, or catch a 10-minute train ride through the nature park. Here are three highlights that you will want to catch.
Explore the Wild
Explore the Wild is a six-acre wet woodland habitat built into an old quarry. The area houses three different types of live animals - red wolves, lemurs and American black bears. In particular, the red wolves living in the museum are part of a countrywide conservation plan to ensure that these rare animals are protected from extinction.
Landscaping efforts have been put into designing these exhibits so that they resemble the animal’s natural habitats. For instance, the red wolf exhibit features a pool with waterfall, covered wolf den and rock quarry wall to create spaces for the animals to take shelter and exercise. Visitors can observe these animals at a distance from an observation deck or enjoy close up views via visitor-controlled zoom cameras.
More animals are located in the indoor Carolina Wildlife exhibit, which features species that are native to North Carolina, including the woodchuck, striped skunk and alligator. Learn more about the multiple ways in which they have evolved to adapt and thrive in the local environment.
Catch the Wind
Catch the Wind is a large-scale interactive exhibit focused on understanding wind power and the ways plants and animals harness it. Most notably, the area features a large sailboat pond and water table where visitors can maneuver remote-controlled boats with a variety of sail designs. Through play, visitors are encouraged to discover how different sail designs affect movement, the effects of air currents and sail engineering. At the Seed Tower, observe how seeds move with the air and travel long distances as visitors hurl giant seed models into the air.
Into the Mist also is in the same area and lets guests further explore concepts about wind and water. Visitors can run through large dome-like structure that sprays mist while observing how wind affects the direction and intensity of the fog. Kids can also watch how water that is sprinkled by a metallic rain tree above their heads changes the shape of sand they are playing in.
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