Live animals at The Manchester Museum
The Museum is active in conservation, by raising public awareness issues and by participating in international captive breeding programmes for endangered species, this living collection is used as an important educational resource. It is very popular with the many children who visit the Museum and we hope that early contact with reptiles and amphibians will influence attitudes to animals, and that this will inspire a commitment to conservation and habitat protection as they grow up.
The Vivarium, which opened in 2000 combines naturalistic exhibits of living organisms with modern interpretative techniques. Here, the visitor is met with the sights and sounds of a variety of natural habitats together with living reptiles and amphibians. Visitors can find the answers to many questions about these animals using our interactive program.
Key displays include a rocky desert exhibit with monitor lizards, complete with giant cacti and a tall termite mound. In contrast, visitors can see the lush vegetation and diversity of a flooded Amazonian rainforest in an impressive split level exhibit. Other exhibits contain a variety of unusual reptiles and amphibians, including Fijian Banded Iguanas, Green Tree Monitors and a Green Tree Python from Australia.
Behind the scenes, the Vivarium is particularly notable for its large collection of phyllomedusine tree frogs, which is probably the largest and most important in the world. Many of the frogs maintained are of key importance to captive breeding programmes that have been established to help save a number of species on the very brink of extinction.
Andrew Gray, The Curator of Herpetology, specialises in neo-tropical frogs. His research, which combines field studies with captive observations, focuses mainly on investigating the biology of rare treefrog species, providing an insight into many aspects of their natural history and ecology. All the studies conducted are completely non-invasive and is aimed at gaining a fuller understanding of the species concerned, so that the knowledge can be used to help conserve them.