Get Up Close to ‘Crocs’ at the Academy of Natural Sciences
This compelling exhibit features live animals and plenty of hands-on fun.
“Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World” introduces visitors to the world of crocodilians, a group of reptiles that includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and gharials. This new special exhibit at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University opened February 3 and runs until May 6, and features nearly a dozen live species, as well as realistic models of crocodilians and interactive elements throughout.
Make a plan to visit with these animals before they say “See ya later, alligator!” Here’s what you can do at the exhibit.
See Live Crocs
The exhibit has a number of recreated naturalistic habitats for the different species of crocodilians that are featured. Get “face to snout” with the Siamese crocodile, American alligator, broad-snouted caiman, and West African dwarf crocodile.
Through these displays, you can see the diversity and activity of the different species. Watch them swim, crawl, play, or just sit there staring blankly at you (they’re not always the quick-snapping creatures from nature specials). You can also peek into a real living alligator nest.
You may even be lucky enough to meet resident baby alligators, Thelma and Louise, who live at the Academy of Natural Sciences as educational animals!
Examine Croc Models
In addition to the live species, there are a number of very realistic models. As you walk through the exhibit, you can’t help but notice the nearly 18 feet long Gomek.
This is life-sized model depicts the largest crocodile ever exhibited in the Western Hemisphere — caught in the 1960s, he became a symbol for crocodile conservation in Australia and the United States. Don’t miss taking a picture with him!
Everywhere you look there is something new to learn in “Crocs” about how the group of reptiles live, raise their kids, communicate, and thrive. Questions are posed and answered to visitors through short films, infographics, and best of all interactive elements.
You can learn to “speak Croc” by pushing buttons and hearing the different sounds they make to express different needs and emotions. Or test out your strength against a croc’s bite! You can play paleo-artist and try to create a plausible 3D animation of a long-extinct croc, based only off of fossils. Or you can “make water dance” by recreating the splashy water activity that occurs when alligators bellow (and learn the physics behind it).
Keep an eye out for “Night in the Museum” events where you can spend an overnight at the Academy of Natural Sciences, including a chance to see what the special stars of the exhibit are up to after the sun goes down. The first such museum overnight will be February 10 — 11.
“Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World” is at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, at 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, now through May 6. The exhibit is open from 10 am – 4:30 pm during the week and 10 am – 5 pm on the weekends. Admission is $5 above general admission for non-members, and $3 for individual and family members.
Photographs by Laura Swartz.