Full disclosure: I love frogs.
My fascination with frogs began with a cover of Ranger Rick magazine: an up close and personal profile view of a sticky-fingered amphibian, striking with his smooth bright green skin and startling red eyes, accented in brilliant blue. The red-eyed tree frog was also how my son was introduced to frogs, thanks to Go, Diego, Go. As city folks, this was pretty much as close to frogs as we got.
Shortly after my daughter was born, though, we moved away from the city, to a house where we’re surrounded by trees and creeks and rocks begging to be turned over. And so at the same time that she was reading about princesses kissing frogs and toads (toads actually being a variety of frog), she was able to go out into the nearby parks and kiss some herself.
Now, you can’t kiss any of the frogs that the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University has brought to their Frogs: A Chorus of Colors exhibit, sorry. But you can really get up close and personal with them, learning how amazing and important they are! I was super excited to be able to attend a press preview on behalf of Jersey Family Fun before the exhibit officially opened. The exhibit was created by Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, and I enjoyed it so much I eventually had to be gently escorted out so staffers could get on with their other duties for the day.
About Frogs: A Chorus of Colors at the Academy of Natural Sciences
15 frog species from around the world are featured, surrounded by an array of fascinating frog facts and activities that will appeal to kids of all ages: videos, models, recorded frog calls, a virtual dissection, even a “Cart of Curiosities” with preserved frog specimens. One tank in particular had the elementary school kids in attendance enthralled, as large tadpoles swam spiritedly around, bumping against the glass.
Every Saturday and Sunday in “Froguary,” there will be special crafts, amphibian specimen displays, and interactive activities. Staff members are chock full of interesting information about the occupant of each tank and about frogs in general.
Unlike other frog exhibits I’ve seen, where every display is a frustrating recreating of “Where’s Waldo,” great care seems to have been taken to simulate each animal’s natural habitat in such a way that they are comfortable yet visible. I was able to easily spot and even photograph the frog in each one— that’s no small detail when it comes to getting the most of a museum experience with young kids.
Frogs: A Chorus of Colors addresses a number of topics: frog biology and life cycle, natural history, their role in human cultures, their importance to ecosystems, and the peril they face in changing environments.
The Academy of Natural Sciences frog exhibit runs through May 14, 2017 and tickets include general admission to the museum.
A few of the frogs you’ll get to “meet” at the Academy of Natural Sciences frog exhibit:
- Chinese Gliding Frog: no frogs can truly fly, but these frogs can soar, thanks to the enlarged webbing between their toes that acts like a parachute when they leap between branches.
- African Clawed Frog: these guys stand upright underwater with forearms outstretched, waiting for food, which they will then stuff down their throats with their front legs.
- Borneo Eared Frog: tubular cells, bristles, and mucus on their toe pads allow these super sticky frogs to climb trees, cling to the undersides of leaves, or even hang from branches by one toe.
- Fire-bellied Toad: when disturbed, they throw their legs into the air, revealing a bright red fire belly to scare off their intruder.
There are more than 4,000 species of frogs worldwide. In the Delaware Valley area, there are 18 native species; in New Jersey, the Pine Barrens Treefrog and the Southern Gray Treefrog are listed as endangered.
Some kids are fans of amphibians by nature, but some— especially those who’ve never had the opportunity to see one up close— might think of frogs as gross or ordinary. I hope you’ll make the drive to explore the Academy’s frog exhibit to see how cool, colorful, and curiously extraordinary they really are!
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is located at 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. Tickets to the Frogs: A Chorus of Colors special exhibit can be purchased online here.