By Megan Tjandrasuwita
Have you ever wanted to explore the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica, Madagascar, Amazon River Basin, and Borneo without actually being there? Come to the Osher Rainforest at California Academy of Science. You will not only be mesmerized by the majestic, lush green, biodiverse environments, but also learn important facts about the critical ecosystems of our planet.
Located inside the 90-foot wide, four-story glass dome, the breathtaking tropical rainforest exhibit is a serene habitat for numerous species of birds, butterflies, exotic reptiles, and tropical insects. The hot and humid air coupled with the greenhouse effect provides the perfect tropical rainforest climate for diverse populations of plants and animals.
Exotic plants and flowers such as giant taro trees, orchids, and birds of paradise thrive under the natural sunlight coming from the skylight of the dome. All around, the tropical plants with distinctive shades of green and wing-like leaves create a wonderful habitat for the multi-colored butterflies. Long, thick vines wrap around big, towering evergreen trees like giant pythons. Along the spiral pathway leading to the center of the dome, dragonflies and Tiger Longwing butterflies flutter in and out of their hiding places and fly among the visitors. Near the top of the dome, rainbow-colored toucans and bright-colored macaws glide from tree to tree while calling out to each other with loud, high-pitched sounds.
Trips to the rainforest can’t be completed without visiting the Amazon Flooded Forest. After taking a glass elevator to the ground floor, visitors enter the transparent passage, which descends inside the giant 100,000-gallon freshwater fish tank of the Amazon Flooded Forest. Once inside the tunnel you will be entranced with the stunning view of massive catfish, arapaimas, turtles, and other fish swimming among clustered mangrove roots.
Most notably, the Academy has integrated its exhibits with its research and education divisions. Video screens in each floor detail the status and how to preserve our fragile ecosystem.
Visiting the spectacular rainforests at the California Academy of Science and learning about their habitats is not only a fun but also wonderful learning experience for everyone, especially when you share it with friends and family.