Greensboro Science Center's SciQuarium
Date: July 1, 2013
When directors of the newly opened SciQuarium at the Greensboro Science Center (GSC) envisioned how it would look, they drew inspiration from some of the country’s best aquariums with one major goal in mind.
“We wanted it to be more than just big tanks with fish, so we found out where people spent most of their time at these aquariums, which helped us to plan which species and exhibits would give our visitors the very best experience,” said Steffany Reeve, the marketing manager at GSC.
They had to be selective, given the budget of $10 million and 22,000 square feet. In the end, SciQuarium planners created six exhibits that offer the “best of the best” in modern aquarium experiences, including:
● A 90,000-gallon ocean-reef tank filled with sharks, green moray eels, stingrays, a spotted eagle ray, surgeonfish, porcupine fish and a variety of other marine life, along with the occasional volunteer scuba diver cleaning the coral.
● The only permanent penguin exhibit in North Carolina, featuring 10 African penguins at opening (several others are currently molting and will arrive later this summer). Similar to the other animal exhibits, “Penguin Point” offers above- and below-water viewing and has breeding “boxes” built into the rocky landscape where penguins can build their nests.
● The only fishing cat exhibit in North Carolina. Visitors will have a chance to watch this beautiful skilled swimmer catch its own meals.
● A multispecies exhibit called the “Amazon Edge” that is home to an anaconda, fish and a two-toed sloth. Golden lion tamarins will be added later this summer.
● An Asian small-clawed otter exhibit. A highlight feature includes a “bubble-dome” where visitors can peer into the exhibit and go nose-to-nose with these playful creatures.
● The “Hands-On Harbor” stingray pool that allows visitors to go hands-on while learning about these creatures from keepers and volunteers. In the coming months, visitors will be able to feed the stingrays for an added experience.
The SciQuarium will also have an animal care area where visitors can view lab procedures performed by SciQuarium staff and educational “Sci-Pod” stations with interactive iPads. One Sci-Pod exhibit illustrates the SciQuarium’s unique filtration system that takes water from the tap to the exhibits and converts it into brackish, fresh or salt water, depending on the animal’s native habitat.
For an additional charge, visitors can have behind-the-scene experiences this fall and really get up close with the animals, as well as spend one-on-one time with the keepers to ask questions and learn more about the animals.
The building of the SciQuarium is the first phase of a three-phase, seven-year master plan. GSC visitors can expect to see renovations to the Dinosaur Gallery, Kids’ Alley and the Herpetarium, as well as some other potential expansions including a “Sky Wild” treetop adventure and a solar covered parking lot in the near future.
“We are excited to offer Triad residents and visitors from all over the country a world-class aquarium, museum and zoo right here in the Triad, and it’s only going to get better,” says Reeve.
What else is new at the Greensboro Science Center?
Meet “Duke” the baby javan gibbon. Be sure to stop by the animal hospital behind the Friendly Farm to peek through the window at the baby javan gibbon born April 29. “Duke” was abandoned by his mother at birth, so he is currently being hand-raised by GSC zookeepers. This round-the-clock care includes bottle-feeding and changing his diapers until he will be reintroduced to his parents in the exhibit when he is 4 to 6 months old.
Meet “Taiji” the red panda. Taiji arrived about two months ago and is the only red panda in a zoo in North Carolina. The center hopes to acquire a female friend for breeding in the future.
What’s in a name? The Natural Science Center of Greensboro was renamed the Greensboro Science Center earlier this year. The directors believed a brand evolution was imperative in order to achieve statewide recognition and leadership in science-based tourism, and to put the focus on Greensboro. The center includes a science museum, aquarium, zoo and theater all in the same location — making it the only one of its kind in the U.S.
Fresh Market Café — in mid-May, the center opened the Fresh Market Café, a first for both the GSC and Greensboro’s hometown grocer. In the new café, visitors can enjoy paninis, salads, soups, vegetables, ice cream and unique dishes such as a macaroni and cheese pizza. As an added perk, 100 percent of the profits at the Fresh Market Café go back to the GSC.
If You Go
Greensboro Science Center
4301 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro
Admission: Ages 14-62, $12.50; ages 65+, $11.50; ages 3-13, $11.50; ages 2 and under, free.