June 21, 2014

‘Fantastic Frogs’ springs into Discovery Place

Charlotte’s Discovery Place opened its “Fantastic Frogs” exhibit on Saturday, launching a series of varied summer programs and activities.

Charlotte’s Discovery Place opened its “Fantastic Frogs” exhibit on Saturday, launching a series of varied summer programs and activities.

“It’s going to be a busy summer,” said Kaitlin Rogers, Discovery Place manager of public relations and marketing. “A summer of wonder. That’s part of our mission: striving to ignite wonder.”

Making its third appearance at Discovery Place, the popular frogs exhibit tells the stories of live frogs from all over the world – with names like Pac-Man frog, tomato frog, poison dart frog and Solomon Island Leaf frog.

The 3,500-square-foot exhibit focuses on how these creatures move, create disguises, defend themselves and survive in the winter. It includes illustrations of frog species and their environments mixed with facts, information and videos.

About 100 live frogs are on display in their natural habitats. Three times a week, depending on the species, most are fed fruits, flies and crickets.

The softball-sized marine toad – nicknamed “Hulk” – prefers nightcrawlers and cave cockroaches.

“Feeding is quite an endeavor,” said Rogers. “It’s not easy.”

One section of the exhibit is called “Masters of Disguise” and illustrates how frogs use camouflage to fool potential predators.

Rogers used Vietnamese Mossy frogs as examples. About 2-3 inches long, the frogs are hard to see because they blend in with the moss in their habitat.

So are the Solomon Island leaf frogs.

“They look like dead leaves,” Rogers said. “You have to take time to sit and look for them. They’re doing what they do in the wild – blending in. And they do it very well.”

Rogers said frogs “have their own natural superpowers.”

The skittering frog – fast and light – can walk on water, effortlessly darting across the surface.

“Fantastic Frogs,” which will be around until August 2015, got an enthusiastic reception from visitors Saturday.

“Oh my goodness. There he is,” Chris Pfeiffer told his 5-year-old son Calvin as he pointed to a Pac-Man frog. “He’s a nice one.”

The Pfeiffers, from Detroit, were first-time visitors to Charlotte. Chris Pfeiffer, who also had 10-year-old daughter Lila on hand, called Discovery Place “really neat.”

Dick Barron, 69, and his wife Peggy, 68, of Williamsburg, Va., brought their grandchildren to the Tryon Street museum.

“We do this every year – take the kids on a vacation,” said Dick Barron. “It’s education, plus fun. Discovery Place was the educational part. Going to the Charlotte Motor Speedway was fun for me.”

Maybe Grandpa thought the frog exhibit was educational. But one of the grandkids, Ashlyn Herring, 12, of Newport News, Va., called it “really cool.”

Her favorite: the poison dart frog.

Really? Cool.

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