The re-energized focus on Long Island Sound's story is obvious in the colorfully redesigned main hall, which has been renamed Newman's Own Hall in celebration of a $1.2 million grant from Newman's Own Foundation."
– The Norwalk Citizen
Exclusive Members' Preview: Thurs., May 23 from 4 to 7 p.m.
Step into a lush aviary to share a laugh, a squawk and maybe a cup of nectar with beautiful tropical birds that will sip food right out of your hands in “Lorikeets,” The Maritime Aquarium's fun new big special summer exhibit.
Set in an aviary on our riverfront courtyard, the exhibit will feature more than 50 free-flying lorikeets, which are colorful medium-sized parrots native to the south Pacific (SE Asia, eastern Australia, Polynesia). The birds come in a dazzling rainbow of colors – with feathers that almost radiate an iridescent glow when seen in full sunlight. Lorikeets are naturally found in rainforests and woodlands, but also in wooded urban areas, where they primarily feed on the nectars of various blossoms and fruits.
But in our exhibit, you get to provide the nectar and hand-feed the birds!
Entry into "Lorikeets" is free with Aquarium admission. But visitors can purchase a $3 cup of nectar and the lorikeets may land on your hand, your shoulder, your arm or even your head to get at this sweet liquid.
The 1,800-square-foot Maritime Aquarium exhibit will boast about a dozen varieties of lorikeets.
Some important items to note about “Lorikeets”:
• It will be handicapped-accessible but no strollers, please.
• Visitors will be asked to sanitize their hands before entering.
• To encourage the birds to rest, the exhibit will close for a half-hour at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily.
• We cannot guarantee birds will feed from your nectar cup.
• Poop happens! The birds are free flying. We have cleanup kits available if you happen to be one of the lucky ones.
For anyone with an aversion to close encounters with birds, viewing of the lorikeets will be possible from outside the aviary.
First popularized by the comical sidekick Timon in Disney’s “The Lion King” and then celebrated in the Animal Planet television series “Meerkat Manor” (2005-2009), meerkats are members of the mongoose family that live in social “mobs” or “gangs” in burrows in the Kalahari Desert, in the southern African nations of Botswana and South Africa.
No mere cats, meerkats (Suricata suricatta) are fascinating for living in structured but cooperative societies, including a foraging strategy where adults take turns standing guard upright on their hind feet, watching for predators, while the others eat. As the popular “Meerkat Manor” television series showed, the family-based “mobs” are not lacking in daily drama – from internal relationship issues to battles with other “mobs” encroaching on their territory to the ever-present fear of jackals and eagles.
“These are active animals with very charismatic faces and highly interesting social structures, so they are a lot of fun for visitors to watch,” said Jack Schneider, the Aquarium’s curator of animals.
The exhibit features six sibling meerkats – three males, three females – born in the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah. Their Maritime Aquarium habitat offers windows into their underground burrows, so all meerkat activity is within view. A viewing bubble even lets young visitors stand up right among the meerkats.
Sponsored by Bank of America
See amazing fish from the Nile River, Red Sea, and lakes of Africa’s Great Rift Valley in this exhibit featuring some of the lesser-known but equally fascinating aquatic animals from the African continent. Species highlighted include air-breathing lungfish, catfish that use bioelectricity to sense their surroundings, colorful cichlid fish, and dazzling coral reef fish. Plus, bonus species are giant day geckos, black mud turtles and enormous ground boa snakes.
Interspersed throughout are important messages about animal adaptation, the importance of habitat preservation and conservation, stories that show how fish from the other side of the world face challenges similar to those in Long Island Sound. A great way to “explore” Africa for less than the cost of a tank of gas!