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Aquarium to Open New Exhibit: Swampland Memorial Day Weekend

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The colorful new exhibit will spotlight three types of swamps and its life forms

There is a sense of growing excitement at the Oregon Coast Aquarium as opening day for its new exhibit draws near. Swampland opens May 29 and is slated to run two years at the Aquarium. Snakes, frogs, an alligator and fish have been arriving and are being acclimated to their new environment. The painting of the murals, by artist Michael Cole is nearly complete and exhibit cases are being installed. Opening festivities over the three day Memorial Day weekend will include a performance from Radio Disney, “creature features” with live animals, dive presentations, face painting, free giveaways and a children’s craft handout. The summer season officially gets underway on opening day of Swampland as the Aquarium expands its hours from 9 am to 6 pm daily through Labor Day weekend.

Imperiled wetlands have been in the spotlight recently, with catastrophic events such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and Hurricane Katrina compromising the integrity of these biologically diverse ecosystems. As scientists look for ways to mitigate the damage of these events, the significance of wetlands to the health of our planet is becoming more evident. The Aquarium hopes that Swampland will inspire awe and understanding of wetlands, highlighting three different types of swamps and the animals that live in them.

The swamps featured include South American swamps of the Pantanal, a mangrove swamp and a cypress swamp. Swampland focuses on the role of animals in these ecosystems, using a narrative style of interpretation within a storybook format that tells a fascinating tale. An elaborate immersive experience, Swampland reveals swamps as complex ecosystems providing essential habitat for wildlife performing important functions that benefit all living things. The exhibit demonstrates how swamps act as a natural filter, enhancing water quality and absorbing water to help reduce flooding and erosion.

Creatures that live in swamps include reptiles, amphibians, fishes, birds and mammals. A 6 foot alligator and a 12 foot anaconda are among the inhabitants of Swampland. Not a known man-eater, the anaconda is a snake that could have the potential to be dangerous. Feeding the anaconda, the largest species of snake, requires two people and a specific feeding protocol, due to its enormous size and strength. Other animals in Swampland include piranhas, red tail boas, a large alligator snapping turtle, and tropical fish that use mangrove roots as nurseries.

Many of the animals in Swampland come from Brad’s World Reptiles in Corvallis, Oregon. Brad’s World Reptiles develops professional large-scale, live-animal educational programs, interactive exhibits, and “creature features” at events. Brad Tylman, proprietor of Brad’s World Reptiles, said their goal is to provide the opportunity to learn about, view and touch some of the most beautiful and exotic animals on the planet. Tylman will be on hand conducting “creature features” each day Memorial Day weekend. For more information, visit Brad’s World Reptiles web site at: http://bradsworldreptiles.com/

Interactive components of Swampland include a crawl-through tank where visitors can “swim with the piranhas, ” a crawl-through simulated alligator burrow, a flip lid activity where visitors can guess what animals made the illustrated tracks and a naturalist tent where children record their own observations. Visitors walk through giant mangrove roots and see up close how protective they are and how they act as the swamp’s nursery.

By showing how swamps play a key role in the health of the planet, and letting people know what they can do to help, the Oregon Coast Aquarium hopes that Swampland will fascinate and inspire people to conserve our precious swamps and wetlands.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium gratefully acknowledges Swampland sponsors: Fred Meyer Stores, Meyer Memorial Trust, Juliet Ashby Hillman Foundation, Summer Lea Hillman Foundation, Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust, Jackson Foundation, and Wheeler Foundation and 127 individuals who donated to Swampland.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational attraction dedicated to the highest quality aquatic and marine science programs for recreation and education so the public better understands, cherishes, and conserves the world’s natural marine and coastal resources. For more information, visit the Aquarium’s Web site at www.aquarium.org or call (541) 867-FISH. 

Swampland Opening Weekend Festivities:
Saturday, May 29
Face Painting: 11 – 2:30
Radio Disney: 1 – 3
KYTE Radio: May 29, 10 – 1
Creature Features with Brad Tylman: 9 – 6
Dive Interpretations: 10, 10:30, 12:30 and 1:30
Free giveaways and children’s craft handouts all day
Sunday, May 30
Face Painting: 11 – 2:30
Creature Features with Brad Tylman: 9 – 6
Free giveaways and children’s craft handout all day
Monday, May 31
Creature Features with Brad Tylman: 9 – 6
Free giveaways and children’s craft handout all day

Photo Caption: 
An albino Burmese Python is one of the animals featured in the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s new exhibit, Swampland.  (Photo by Cindy Hanson)

 

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