OVER LAND AND INTO THE DEEP BLUE
As we’ve gained a greater understanding of the natural environment around us, we’ve begun to reevaluate our system for the captivity and exhibition of nature. Traditionally, zoos and aquariums have always kept human convenience and entertainment at the forefront of their designs. But not so today. Recreating the natural living conditions of our zoo and aquarium subjects has taken precedent, inspiring new and exciting ways to help us appreciate the behavior and needs of animals as much as their beauty. Education has become a primary component in the zoo experience, inciting a growing respect for animal life inhabiting a very diverse planet. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is a good example of this new paradigm and the first facility of its kind to have been accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. This 1,700 acre ranch lets the animals range free while human visitors remain safely in their “cages” (cars). The Center is also a participant in a network of wildlife conservation organizations working to restore the delicate balance between people, animals, and the environment. Meanwhile, along the coast at Corpus Christi, education, conservation, and entertainment merge together in one big splash down at the Texas State Aquarium. Home to the Dolphin Bay Underwater Room, a 400,000 gallon saltwater exhibit featuring live and friendly dolphins, the Aquarium hosts indoor and outdoor educational exhibits including the visitor-favorite “touch pools” where folks can get a real “feel” for ocean wildlife. Afterwards, make like a dolphin and get wet at the Aquarium’s “Splash Park” where water spray jets, water cannons, and interactive water features help you “soak in” everything you’ve learned.