Thursday, November 13, 2014

Austin Nature and Science Center

 One afternoon on our Texas trip, we stopped by the Austin Nature and Science Center .  They have a big room full of natural history ephemera, much of its hands-on.  They have an exhibit hall, which we found full of strange mechanical critters from an exhibit called the "Robot Zoo" which illustrate various animal abilities.  They have lots of native educational animals which cannot be released for various reasons.  There are gardens, ponds and a whole park surrounding it as well.  
Kids can use a mechanical chameleon tongue to zap bugs.
A mechanical fly.
A grey fox, once kept as a pet.
A bobcat, orphaned and rescued but imprinted on humans.
A red fox, also an ex-pet.
I really loved this salamander mosaic.
The view of downtown from the nearby Ann & Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail under the MoPac Expressway.

In the evening, we went to see Austin's spectacular natural phenomena, the bats of the Congress Avenue Bridge.  This bridge was reconstructed in 1980 and unintentionally provides ideal roosting for a colony of Mexican free-tailed bats.  So ideal that the colony is now 1.5 million strong!  It's the largest urban bat colony in the world, and outnumbers Austin's human residents. From April through October, people gather under and over the bridge and wait for the bats to emerge.  It was really impressive!  They appeared in a chaotic rush, and it just never stopped! We actually left before the bats were done because it became too dark to see them.  It's one of those things, like Swift Watch in Portland, that kids shouldn't miss!

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