Living Science Center Gets a Facelift

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nestled into the woods and wetlands of River Legacy Parks, the Living Science Center is the gateway to the park’s giant oak trees and winding trails.

Now, thanks in part to a recent grant from the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation, the Arlington center is getting its first major facelift since it opened in 1996.

The 12,000-square foot educational center, which is constructed of recycled materials, boasts a new design, new state-of-the-art aquariums and terrariums and interactive displays as part of Phase 1 of the renovation.

“Visitors are happy. The animals are happy,” says Teddy Dillingham, senior naturalist at the center. “This is helping our children and even adults develop a love and appreciation for nature.”

The original terrariums and aquariums — which house native reptiles, amphibians and other wildlife — had become outdated, Dillingham says. Enclosures to the tanks were too small, making it difficult for caretakers to feed and care for the animals and clean their quarters.

So the River Legacy Foundation, which operates the center, hired Gregory George, a New Jersey-based designer, to renovate the space. George is known locally for designing Fort Worth Zoo’s Museum of Living Art.

Funding for Phase 1 of the $230,000 renovation included $75,000 from the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation and $75,000 grant from the Sid W. Richardson Foundation.

New museum-quality exhibits feature forest and aquatic habitats, with authentic landscapes and rocks, replicas of dinosaur fossils found in this area and indigenous Native American artifacts that reflect the region’s past.

Educational displays offer tidbits about habitats and various native species, including Texas spiny lizards, green tree frogs and box turtles.

George, who is a former zookeeper, says he let the area’s natural beauty guide his design.

“You can visit the center and study the exhibits, then walk right outside the door and actually experience the same thing,” George says. “That is the real strength of this center.”

The Living Science Center draws roughly 14,000 youths a year, through visits by schoolchildren, nature camp and other activities. Center officials say the renovation could boost attendance numbers — and create a generation of nature enthusiasts.

“The kids come in knowing more about the rainforest and African savannah than they do what is right here in our back yards,” Dillingham says. “By time they leave, they cannot wait to go outside and explore.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *