The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is adding to its animal collection this summer through a new premier exhibit The Robot Zoo presented by MidWestOne Bank. Adults and children will explore the biomechanics of complex, larger-than-life animal robots in the 5,000-square-foot exhibit.
Eight robotic animals and more than a dozen hands-on activities will illustrate fascinating real-life animal characteristics, such as how a chameleon changes colors, how a giant squid propels itself, and how a fly walks on the ceiling. The eight animals featured in the exhibit include a giant squid with 18-foot tentacles, a bat, a rhinoceros, a house fly with a 10-foot wingspread, a platypus, a grasshopper, a chameleon, and a giraffe whose head and neck alone stretch 9 feet into the air.
Machinery in the robot animals simulates the body parts of their real-life counterparts. Muscles become pistons, intestines become filtering pipes, and brains become computers. Other sensory activities include “Swat the Fly,” a test of the visitor’s reaction time – one-twelfth as fast as a house fly’s – and “Sticky Feet,” where visitors can experience what it’s like to be a fly on the wall. Triggering the “Tongue Gun” demonstrates how a real chameleon shoots out its long, sticky-tipped tongue to reel in a meal.
Animation in the robots imitates real-life behaviors. The legs of a platypus swim in a breaststroke style, while its tail moves up and down. The tentacles of the giant squid grip a struggling fish, while the squid’s beak-like mouth opens to reveal a spinning food grinder.
The exhibit The Robot Zoo is based on the book of the same name, which was conceived, edited, and designed by Marshall Editions of London, England. The Robot Zoo is made possible with generous support from presenting sponsor MidWestOne Bank, contributing sponsors TH Media and KWWL, associate sponsor Radio Dubuque, and supporting sponsor Prudential.
The new exhibit will be open to all general admission visitors beginning, May 23, 2020, (Memorial Day weekend) and run through Monday of Labor Day weekend. For more information on the exhibit, including images and to purchase tickets, visit www.rivermuseum.com/therobotzoo.