Exhibits | Explore the Wild

Entering Explore the Wild
The wetland exhibit deck looks out over an immense wetland bordered by a rich forest.
An observation area above the bear yard provides unobstructed views of the black bears at play.
A sleeping bear.
The red wolf habitat features an outdoor enclosure for two wolves.
Six lemurs live at the Museum.
The lemur habitat features a computer kiosk that identifies lemur habits, habitats and social behaviors.

Explore the Wild logoA lush six-acre woodland habitat and thriving wetland site where you can walk in the steps of a wildlife biologist and use field cameras to study native black bears, endangered red wolves, and exotic lemurs.

A one-of-a-kind outdoor natural science experience!

Begin your exploration of the wild descending into the basin of what was once a rock quarry, now reclaimed and preserved as a lush and thriving natural wetland habitat. Navigate the twists and turns of a giant 750-foot boardwalk and stop at a series of investigative overlooks view this dynamic landscape, its wildlife, plant life, and supporting habitats.

Wetland Overlook and Lab

Healthy wetlands are critical to a healthy environment. Our Wetland Exhibit Deck looks out over an immense wetland bordered by a rich forest. Use a variety of interactive activities to learn about the wildlife and plant life supported by wetland habitats. You can examine live samples of wetland water with a powerful outdoor microscope to zoom-in on a tiny world of microbes. Use our tadpole and duck feet simulators to feel what it’s like for these animals to move through water.

Read Ranger Greg Dodge's Explore the Wild Journal, and find out more about the wild denizens of this exhibit!

The Bear Yard

The black bear (Ursus americanus), the only bear species found in North Carolina, is an integral part of our state’s cultural, historic and natural heritage. Today, black bears occupy only approximately 1,900 square miles of their historic range of over 48,000 square miles. There are only about 4,000 in the wild in North Carolina where over 100,000 once roamed.

Explore the Wild’s bear yard is home to four American black bears, a group that has called the Museum home for many years. In the bear yard, the bears cool off and drink from a cascading waterfall, they climb and rest on deadfall trees and rock formations. An observation area provides unobstructed views of the black bears at play in a beautiful natural setting like that found in the wild. Visitors can get a close view of the bears using zoom cameras. Interactive kiosks explain their habitat, habits, breeding and nutritional needs and showcase bear biologists — their careers, tools and skills.

Red Wolf Habitat

The red wolf (Canis rufus) is one of the most endangered animals in the world, a shy species that once roamed throughout the Southeastern United States as a top predator. By 1970, the entire population of red wolves was believed to be less than 17 in the wild. The Museum of Life and Science is a member of a national network that houses red wolves as part of the Species Survival Plan, supervised by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.

The red wolf habitat in Explore the Wild features a recently re-designed outdoor enclosure for two wolves. The exhibit features a stream with a waterfall and wolf dens with cameras so visitors can catch close-up glimpses of the animals. A rock quarry wall is a naturalistic backdrop for the exhibit, not only for its aesthetic appeal, but also to provide the wolves with vertical challenges.

Lemur Habitat

Ring-tailed (Lemur catta) and red ruffed (Varecia variegate rubra) lemurs — roam an interactive playground featuring roots, large branches and tall trees. During cold months, these playful mammals are housed in a unique indoor enclosure featuring a large viewing window.

The lemur exhibit features a computer kiosk that identifies the lemurs’ habits, habitats and social behaviors and introduces the role that lemur biologists play. A zoom camera provides close-up views of these highly active, playful animals.

Lemurs are prosimians, or primitive primates. They are social animals with long limbs, flexible toes, fingers and long noses and are found only on Madagascar and the Comoros Islands. There are over 60 species/sub species of lemurs and this number is constantly changing as new species are being discovered. All species are on the endangered species list. Habitat loss is the main threat to lemurs today, as people clear their native forests for farm land. Lemurs play an important role in the ecology of Madagascar and the Comoros Islands because they disperse seeds from the fruit they eat. These seeds can then grow into new plants, which is important because the forests of Madagascar are being destroyed at a high rate.

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Support provided by the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation.