Ca. Academy of Sciences to feature rain forest

March 21, 2008 10:48:18 AM PDT
Scientists say one of the key elements in global warming is the destruction of rain forests.

Its trees and foliage suck a lot of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. But while many of the earth's forests are in danger, there's one be created here in San Francisco.

The unveiling of another palm tree as the new tropical rainforest begins to take root inside a 65 feet high dome.

Welcome to "Rainforests of the World" in the new California Academy of Sciences.

"We're actually moving life into the rain forest bola. These trees have been growing for the last 18 months in Florida," said Steinhart Aquarium director Chris Andrews.

It's been a controlled environment from the growing to the cross country transportation to the planting.

"You want to get a diverse mix of trees that are sort of accurate for the exhibit we are portraying which is a neo-tropical rainforest in south and Central America. And then you want a range of different trees, and you don't want the trees not to look pretty and pruned. You want them to look sort of gnarly and wild," said Andrews.

What you will see here when it opens next year will be a recreation of rainforests from around the world.

"You have to have a lot of passion for it because nobody has ever done this before. So there's a lot of trial, a lot of error. We just keep plugging," said Lori Garrison.

She's part of the exhibit project Managersthe Rainforest, which will grow inside a spectacular four-story glass dome -- the largest of its kind in the world.

There will be lights, humidity and action. Birds and butterflies will fly free and you'll be able to become part of it climbing through the Amazon, Madagascar, Borneo, Costa Rica. But just wait till you get to the top.

"You'll get in a glass elevator and slide through the rainforest down into the basement if you will where you'll merge in a flooded forest exhibit in the Amazon with piranhas, electric eels, anacondas, and so on," said Andrews.

But this is about more than an adventureland-type ride. It's about our role in the environment.

"Conservation and preservation. Ideas that we can do to change the way they think right now," said Andrews.

The rainforest and the new California Academy of Sciences will open in the fall of 2008.


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