San Diego is filled with incredible museums, but there aren’t too many options for your child to get up close and personal with exotic animals. Until now! EcoVivarium Living Museum, in downtown Escondido, is an interactive and immersive experience featuring more than 200 rescued and donated animals, such as a Croc Monitor, Black and White Tegu, Giant Pixie Frog and 17-foot Amethystine Python. Read on for the scoop!
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Hands-On You Say?
The museum advertises itself as interactive, and they aren’t kidding. Animal lovers of all ages will dig the opportunity to have a tarantula on their head, touch and hold snakes and lizards of all sizes, and meet creatures many have villainized as scary or mean (not true!). The reptiles and creepy-crawlies all have over 100 hours of training so they are ready and willing to meet visitors.
Making Learning Fun
After chatting with the museum director, the passion EcoVivarium has for helping children learn shines in every part of her story. Their goal is to “connect the dots” between STEM coursework, history, cultural studies, language arts, geography, the environment and beyond. While the animals are the obvious stars, the museum is designed by biome (desert, savannah/grassland, deciduous forest, rainforest, Bayou/swamp), incorporating historical and cultural impact. The museum brings to life many of the lessons local elementary school students are working on in class. Camouflage, mimicry, habitat, environment…In short, your little scientist will love it!
The museum and its staff also focus on reaching out to at-risk populations and underserved communities. Fun fact: the lead staff has two decades of experience in working with special needs individuals and at-risk students. In fact, 98% of EcoVivariums animals are rescued and come from a tough background; many young children can related to the challenges the creatures have faced and find inspiration in their rehabilitation and journey. The animals “now serve as ambassadors, encouraging excellence in educational endeavors of individuals and to share the message of the importance of good stewardship for our world and all the creatures in it.”
EcoVivarium Around Town
EcoVivarium offers several unique programs to keep an eye out for.
Once a month, book worms can read with a [bearded] dragon at the Escondido Public Library. Check out the library’s event listings and be sure to book an appointment! They also offer classroom and assembly programs, corporate events and birthday parties.
During the summer, week-long camps focus on the care, habitats, challenges and handling techniques. Campers are invited back to be volunteers during special events and serve as animal ambassadors.
136 S. Juniper St
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday (Closed Monday; Tuesday is reserved for field trips and parties)
Cost: Adults $10, Children $8, Seniors & Military $9
Memberships are also available
*Editor’s Note: as of December 2016 the museum is still in the process of completely their grand opening. They are open to the public, but not all 200 animals are currently ready to meet you. January 2017 they should be ready!
Have you been to the new EcoVivarium yet? Let us know what you thought in the comments!
— copy and photos by Ginger Anderson