Please don’t feed these animalsBy Erika Sauler
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Children eagerly raised their hands as host Susie Abrera asked, “What insect spits on food they land on?”
The girl she chose answered promptly, “Housefly!”
The next question was, “What animal uses jet propulsion to propel itself at sea?”
“Giant squid!” another child correctly answered.
How did these kids get to know these animal trivia? By visiting The Robot Zoo.
The Science Discovery Center launched recently this biomechanical exhibit of robotic animals to illustrate how nature has engineered their real counterparts.
In this zoo, the bat’s ears are represented as sonar receptors; the chameleon’s sticky tongue is a flypaper; the grasshopper’s legs are piston tubes, their brains, mini-computers.
Nine animals with interesting body functions are featured at this traveling exhibit developed by Texas-based Evergreen Exhibitions.
The Robot Zoo, based on a book of the same title by Marshall Editions in London, also has a dozen interactive activity stations where kids, and kids-at-heart, can play.
The walls of the 1,000-square-meter walk-in gallery are decorated with colorful animals, trees and trivia. For instance, visitors learn that, aside from being the second largest land animal next to elephants, the rhinoceros in Africa is a close relative of zebras, although it may not look it.
At the launch, adults and children took turns creating their own platypus at Mister Platypus, hanging like bats using their hands at Hang Time and catching insects with Tongue Gun, among other activities.
The Robot Zoo has toured science and natural history museums in Europe and North America. Brought here by Nido Fortified Science Discovery Center (NFSDC), it will be on show for eight months at the NFSDC exhibit hall in SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.
NFSDC wanted to bring world-class exhibits and high-end equipment here, according to senior vice president Arturo Carballo, “so Filipinos won’t have to go abroad. You can just go to the mall. Together with our sponsors, we are able to make it affordable.”
Ana Pulido, Nickelodeon’s country manager for the Philippines, said they were glad to work with NFSDC on an exhibit that was both fun and educational.
How does The Robot Zoo experience differ from a real zoo with live animals? “For sure, no animals were harmed here,” replied Carballo.
Of late there has been controversy over the captivity and confinement of live animals, brought about by the retirement of Mali, the 36-year-old lone elephant at Manila Zoo. Animal rights groups have called for the elephant’s transfer to a sanctuary in the United States.
“I have nothing against zoos. I’m sure most of the normal zoos have experts and veterinarians to take care of the animals. But here, of course, all we need is electricity and we can still learn the science behind these animals,” said Carballo.
Fees and discounts
Entrance to The Robot Zoo is P200 per person for walk-in visitors. For P500, a visitor can have access to both The Robot Zoo and the Science Discovery Center. Groups going on field trips can contact a tour operator to get discounts.