Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Navigate Up
Sign In
Skip Navigation LinksCVMBS Home > Veterinary Teaching Hospital > Animal Exhibit Comes to Life at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery
Animal Exhibit Comes to Life at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

A new live-animal exhibit featuring 17 species of crawling, flying, and swimming critters opened in March 2014 at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. The exhibit is designed to introduce visitors to species and their vital roles, highlight the need for conservation, and spark scientific curiosity.

Colorado State University students, scientists, and faculty members are chipping in as caretakers and consultants for the animals in the exhibit, which features Colorado native tiger salamanders, orangespotted sunfish, and Woodhouses’s toads. Some fascinating creepy-crawlies also call the museum home, including tarantulas, leopard geckos, Dumbo rats, honeybees, and a ball python named Slinky.

Connecting Young Students to Nature

Three of CSU’s eight colleges are contributing expertise to the museum’s new animal displays: the College of Agricultural Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and Warner College of Natural Resources. The Avian, Exotic, and Zoological Medicine Service at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital is the primary participant from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“Being face-to-face with these types of creatures allows people of all ages to discover something new and to develop a profound connection with different species,” said Laura Clough, a CSU veterinary student. “It teaches them a sense of compassion for all living things that they can’t learn anywhere else.”

Clough and other veterinary students pay regular visits to the museum to observe and care for the animal residents as part of their training in avian, exotic, and zoological medicine. It provides a hands-on learning experience for the veterinary students, while providing a window to the natural world for the museum’s young visitors.

Importance of Environmental Education

No Child Left Inside, a project of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, notes in its coalition report that  environmental education “helps us as individuals make the complex, conceptual connections between economic prosperity, benefits to society, environmental health, and our own well-being.” Yet studies consistently reveal an environmental literacy gap, the report notes. The National Science Board of the National Science Foundation confirmed the importance of environmental education to student learning in their report, Environmental Science and Engineering for the 21st Century.

Projects like the live-animal exhibit at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery help to narrow that gap by bringing the wildlife of Colorado into an accessible facility. Here, students can experience in a small way each animal’s relationship to each other, their habitat, and the ecological system to which they belong.

“We are excited about the new project, and we are glad CSU is involved. Our partnership makes available so many resources for both education and animal care,” said Cheryl Donaldson, museum director.