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Review: The Wildlife Experience

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I live in Parker, CO, and I have visited The Wildlife Experience many times since it opened in 2002. I do so not because it is near my home, but because of its quality exhibits and activities. The place seems somewhat unique in the museum world in that it presents educational wildlife exhibits, fine art displays, and documentary nature films. The museum also sponsors events and classes that center around outdoor activities. Currently if you wish to learn fly-fishing or archery, both are available as classes at the museum. At The Wildlife Experience there is something that will kindle the interest of nearly everyone.

The main wildlife exhibit, known as Globeolgy (aptly titled, I think), appears to be the most visited part of the museum. In it, you are guided through not only the facts about animals, but also about the different environments in which they live. Rain forests, temperate forests, tundra, savanna, Asian highlands, coral reefs, deserts, and even caves are displayed with facts about that particular environment as well as why those animals are adapted to live in that environment.
 
Did you know that cavefish, native to the Ozarks, have light skin, no eyes, and find food by sensing chemical changes and vibrations? The species, through the process of natural selection (aka evolution), has adapted to its unique environment. In desert environments plants like the prickly pear store water so that it is prepared for unpredictable dry periods. The plant, also through the process of natural selection, has adapted to its respective environment.

I’ve mentioned only two of many displays that you will see in the Globeology exhibit, so plan on at least an hour just to see this part of the museum. If you come to museums to learn, you will not be disappointed with this one.

The current rotating exhibits include, “Ends of The Earth: From Polar Bears to Penquins,” a display that explains the unique nature of both of the world’s poles; “Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants,” explores how ants organize their societies and engineer their world; and “Are We There Yet?: A Journey From Arizona to Alaska,” an exhibit that follows the Wilson Family on a road trip (that seems apropos to this site) across the western U.S.

Art is displayed throughout the museum, but the wildlife-related art in the gallery is nothing short of stunning. Being someone who loves fly-fishing, I have to admit my bias. The gallery presents fly tying as the art that it is. But fly-fishing only makes up a small part of the art gallery. You will see paintings and sculptures covering a range of wildlife-related subject matter. Take your time in here as this gallery can be considered a museum all to itself. If your were to visit the art gallery and nothing else in the museum, you would have more than received your money’s worth.

After learning what you didn’t know about wildlife, viewing the art, and taking in the rotating exhibits, watch a quality nature documentary. Films and times vary, so plan ahead. Even if you finish touring the museum and have some time before the film, you will be hungry, so have lunch or dinner at the cafe.

Normally I would tell someone to plan some number of hours to visit a specific museum, but with all there is to see and do, The Wildlife Experience changes the rules. And I don’t say that about too many museums. Given how much this museum has to offer the visitor, I can easily say that you can plan to spend an entire day here. And I can’t say that a day is enough to see or experience all of it. But, I can say that it will be worth it as your time spent here will be educational, fun, and relaxing.

About Bloice Davison

Bloice C. Davison, III blogs, travels occasionally, and takes pictures. He has experience in the telecommunications, banking, retailing and outside sales businesses. He is a former fly-fishing guide and fly-fishing instructor for the Orvis Company. He served as an Aircraft Maintenance Specialist in the United States Air Force. A 1988 graduate of Virginia Tech, he also has a BS in statistics from the Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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