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I hope this helps,....

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Posted by BrianSmith on May 08, 2003 at 09:12:49:

In Reply to: Need some help in planning our new wildlife center... posted by Rob Carmichael on May 08, 2003 at 07:47:08:

Congrats on your huge project, by the way. It sounds super.

Now,.. I surfed a little bit trying to find some deep jungle habitat, but to no avail. I tried putting "India" into my search engine and I went into several dozen sites with no luck. Next I tried Indian Jungle and got MANY sites about jungle, but no pictures beyond grasslands or small riverbeds. Next I tried Burmese Python, hoping to get some sites containing natural-like habitat photos. No dice. They were mostly a bunch of anti-giant python propaganda about pets that have killed their owners and to not own them, yadda yadda. Next I tried Zoos and got a little bit of stuff, but the pictures were focused more on the snakes than on the environment, so the background is limited. Then I tried putting Waterfalls in my search engine. Not much there. I tried gardens,... even less. And then I tried "artificial rock" and there's quite a bit of stuff there, including pictures and companies that either supply materials or actually build the settings for you. I think you may want to try this one out. In the mean time I will keep looking. Let me know how this works for you or if I am way off track.

:As some of you know, I direct a successful and fast growing wildlife center that features MANY herps and raptors (my second favorite animal of all time). Our focus is on education but we also engage in captive breeding, rescues/rehab, outreach, youth herpetology trips/summer camps (the best part of my job is in leading junior and senior high kids on herpetology excursions...two more weeks until my first trip!), and field research (I'm working with massasaugas).

:We are somewhere in between a nature center (that usually features native herps) and a zoo (the difference being that people get REAL close encounters with truly exotic species such as various boas, pythons, monitors and even venomous herps under very controlled conditions).

:Recently, I was able to make a case towards obtaining funds from our city (approximately $450,000) to restore an old farm that sits on 600 acres of the finest black soil, tall grass savanna in the U.S....what an opportunity this is. Now, we are working closely with Habitat Systems in designing a public display that will surely knock the public's socks off when they come in. Although our first phase will give us approximately the same amount of room we currently have (one large exhibit area, a classroom, and office area), the outdoor setting is what really makes this place special.

:So here is where I need people's help (for those who are interested): We are going with very naturalistic displays and at first, we were going to go with laminated picture backgrounds, however, we have since learned that this won't be of the quality that we were expecting. So, we are going to go with fiberglass artwork to create rocks, boulders, trees, snags, vines, etc. HS is requesting for me to send him some nice pics of the types of trees, snags, rocks, etc. that we want to recreate as they can do just about anything that we want. If anyone knows any good web sites that depicts herps in natural settings please forward them on to me...we are under the gun on this project as we hope to have our grand opening in September (everyone's invited!). I have found some nice ones but with more people keeping an eye out for high quality pics will increase our chance to find just the right image. If you come across any, please forward the websites/pics to:

:Rob Carmichael, Director/Curator of the Wildlife Discovery Center
:City of Lake Forest, Parks & Recreation (Illinois)

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