Local museum delights, exhibits

With more than 90 percent of the known crocodilian species, the largest Southeast Asian bird display in the U.S. and more than 1,300 mineral spheres, La Sierra University’s World Museum of Natural History features some of the largest exhibits in their respective collections.

The museum is located five miles from California Baptist University, in Cossentine Hall on the university campus, is free to the public and open 2-5 p.m. every Saturday with group visits scheduled throughout the week.

The museum holds displays of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, many of which are acquired from zoos whose exhibited animals have died naturally. The museum taxidermists then preserve the animals’ bodies by sculpture and freeze-dry taxidermy molds with casts and reproductions.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid,” said Andrew Granizo, Riverside resident and frequent museum visitor. Granizo said he enjoys visiting regularly because he can learn about creatures that are not native to the Riverside area.

Tessa Stiff, museum docent, said in addition to the large asian bird and crocodile displays, the bumblebee bat on exhibit is one of only two in the United States. The other belongs to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

“I like the Philippine monkey-eating eagle,” Stiff said. “It’s really cool; I didn’t realize it was that large, and the fact that it (ate) monkeys is kind of interesting.”

Amanda Aguirre, frequent museum attendee, said she has been to the museum multiple times and would recommend it to friends to see the many types of rare animals that one would not normally get to see.

With more than just animal displays, the museum also maintains one of the largest collections of mineral spheres in the United States that includes colorful petrified woods, fossils, fluorescent minerals activated by ultraviolet radiation and meteorites and tektites found as far away as Australia.

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