GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History visitors can learn about the original gator nation in the new “Crocs: Ancient Predators in a Modern World” exhibit with a fun-for-all-ages opening day celebration May 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“The ‘Crocs’ exhibit is a great opportunity to get up close and personal with live animals we don’t see in Gainesville’s lakes and waterways,” said Florida Museum associate curator of herpetology David Blackburn. “More closely related to birds and dinosaurs than other living reptiles, the crocodilians in this exhibit provide a window into the unique biology and conservation challenges of these fantastic animals.”
The exhibit educates guests about crocodilian diversity and features live animals including broad-snouted caimans, a nest of American alligator hatchlings, a Siamese crocodile and an African dwarf crocodile. This exhibit also has model dioramas of four different crocodilian species including a life-size model of the saltwater crocodile Gomek, the largest crocodile ever exhibited in North America.
Guests can test their strength against a crocodile’s bite, learn to speak “croc,” and make the water dance like alligators do. An interactive map showcases where crocodilians live around the world and a mini-theater plays videos documenting conservationists’ efforts to save these creatures in the wild. The exhibit also explains how alligators are a type of crocodilian, while skull models illustrate the differences between alligators and crocodiles.
Visitors can step into the shoes of a paleo-artist and create a 3D animation of an extinct crocodilian, as well as view the skull of one of the University of Florida’s last live mascots and five-million-year-old fossil specimens found at the museum’s Montbrook dig site in Levy County.
“The Montbrook fossil site produces the best sample ever found of a very early population of modern alligators, and we’re excited to have the opportunity to show some of these fossils in the exhibit,” said Julie Waters, Florida Museum exhibit coordinator.
While the opening activities are free, there is an admission charge for the “Crocs” and “Butterfly Rainforest” exhibits. Admission to “Crocs” is $8 for adults; $7 for Florida residents, seniors and college students; $5.50 for ages 3-17 and free to museum members and UF students with a valid Gator 1 card. Complete admission pricing information is available online at www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/visit/plan. The Florida Museum will display the exhibit through Jan. 5, 2020.
This exhibit was created by Peeling Productions at Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland and sponsored in part by Visit Gainesville/Alachua County, University of Florida Student Government and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.
For more information, visit www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/exhibits/crocs or call 352-846-2000.