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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Task 07 - EcoTarium

Task (07) Go to the Zoo or Aquarium
Location:  222 Harington Way
                    Worcester, MA
                    (508) 929-2700
I visited the EcoTarium in Worcester with my family recently. Having lived in the area my whole life I wasn’t surprised that I had never visited before. If you drove past it, without having picked it as a destination, you wouldn’t even know it was there. It is kind of sad since it has so much potential and is a great place to go with young kids. My sister-in-law and I went with three little ones.

My 4yo niece, 6yo nephew and 35yo bother had a great time. They got to experience 74+ mph winds, climb a rock wall, learn about Asian longhorn beetles, see a huge boa constrictor snakes, size themselves up to a massive slide of a Redwood tree, witness an American icon the bald eagles, and see many other great things. One of the cool new attractions that they had was a video tour of Mount Washington called “The Arctic Next Door”. The video simulated the journey to the top of the mountain and you could play it forward or reverse.

They also have an awesome interactive learning center where people of all ages can learn games called the “Playing Together: Games” exhibit.  Here you can learn games like Chess, Checkers, Mancala, Skittles, etc. This section while cool was an annoying place to be. They have a large chess board and my nephew who has been learning wanted to play. No one was using it and we went through the process of setting the board up. Of course once someone was actually trying to use it everyone wanted to and other kids start moving the pieces around and their parents not saying a word. Control your children people and tell them to wait their turn when it was obvious we were playing a game.

They also have an extensive network of trails and an outdoor train which you can ride (too cold today).
They also have a large list of animals at the facility but they just sat in a cage or case and you could only look in. I felt bad for the Bald Eagles however. These large birds were cages out near the parking lot and looked miserable. They were so far away from the facility that no one even stopped to see them. They are spectacular and it was a shame that more attention wasn’t given to an icon of America.
Additionally I thought we were going to get some kind of lesson about Boa Constrictors when two staff members came and opened the case with the snake. Of course they drew a large crowd and we were all disappointed when all they did was weigh it and put it back and disappear. We were there for several hours and other then the weighing of the snake we saw or heard nothing from any staff members.
At $14.00 for an adult and $8.00 for a child it was a bit of a letdown. I would have liked to have seen more interactive exhibits with staff explaining things. A more obvious path to enjoy the exhibits might also help improve the experience. There was no flow to the exhibits and it was kind of a free for all with people jockeying for their chance with some of the cooler exhibits.
With the cold weather maybe I didn’t get to experience everything the facility had to offer but I would not rush back unfortunately. It has so much potential and a great resource in our city. Hopefully they can find ways to improve.

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