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Exhibition Highlights

Living, breathing, crawling, creeping. Living Lab invites visitors to meet dozens of our local animal neighbors. The Nat is bringing animals that are part of our living collection—but usually off view—to a light-filled, modern gallery space.

Visitors won’t want to miss these highlights:

  • Insects and other arthropods locals often see in their backyards, including centipedes, black widow spiders, and stink beetles.

  • An observation beehive where visitors can watch honey bees come and go as they work to pollinate Balboa Park and sustain their hive. These bees are inside a special enclosure that connects them to the exterior of the building.

  • A Gila monster, the beaded lizard of the southwestern deserts, primarily seen in Arizona but rarely seen in California. It gets its nickname from its skin, which has a shiny, bumpy appearance.
  • Dermestid beetles (a.k.a. flesh-eating beetles). These insects and their larvae are scavengers that feed on dry animal or plant material. They are often used in taxidermy and by natural history museums, like ours, to help clean animal skeletons.
  • Elusive and nocturnal animals, including a lyresnake and Western banded geckos.

  • Two of the four rattlesnake species that occur in San Diego County: the Western rattlesnake and a red diamond rattlesnake. The two that are not featured in the exhibition include the speckled and sidewinder rattlesnakes.

  • One of the cutest snakes in the world, the Western shovel-nosed snake. Its small size and bright stripes, along with the fact it is non-venomous and often burrows in the sand, make it a good entry point for snake skeptics.

On select dates, visitors will be able to interact with an animal care specialist inside the gallery. This may include animal feedings, a close-up look at the animals on display, and demonstrations and activities.

All exhibit elements are presented in both English and Spanish.
Todos elementos de la exhibición están en inglés y español.