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Conservancy of Southwest Florida Nature Center reopens with new, interactive experiences
By: Conservancy of Southwest Florida
The $5 million expansion and renovation includes the new John & Carol Walter Discovery Wing featuring an Invasive Species Gallery and digital Climate Change Gallery with advanced hands-on enhancements. Guests can interact digitally with a Florida animal in an Augmented Reality Wildlife Encounter or learn about the impacts of climate change on the "Science on a Sphere" digital display system.
"Thanks to the support from Sue Dalton, joined by other generous benefactors, including John and Carol Walter, the newly expanded Dalton Discovery Center brings together the latest technologies and hands-on activities to educate, engage and entertain guests of all ages," said Rob Moher, president and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
The new Invasive Species Gallery in the Walter Discovery Wing explores Burmese pythons, the new apex predator in the Florida Everglades, with a focus of the Conservancy's nationally recognized Burmese python research and removal efforts. The gallery also examines lionfish, cane toads and invasive plants.
Also in the Walter Discovery Wing is the Climate Change Gallery, which focuses on intensification of storms, ocean acidification and habitat protection. The centerpiece is a spherical digital display system that introduces visitors to the impacts of climate change locally and around the world.
"From human development and habitat fragmentation to invasive species and human-driven climate change, the new Dalton Discovery Center puts the impacts we are having on our planet front and center," said Alex Levine, director of education at the Conservancy. "It engages visitors in ways not designed to frighten or to discourage, but to inspire action and change."
Outside of the new Dalton Discovery Center, activities offered include nature walks; activities for younger children in the Little Explorer Play Zone; educational talks focusing on climate change, wildlife and invasive species; and more. Electric boat tours are offered between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., as well as guided kayak tours.
The Conservancy Nature Center is now open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free to Conservancy members and children ages two and younger. Admission for non-members is $17.95 for adults and $9.95 for children ages three to 12.