The Desert Museum

This past Saturday (Nov. 7), I went to the Desert Museum with Jamie, the other US-2 in Tucson, and her dad, who was visiting. The Desert Museum, which I might rename the Arizona Desert and Wildlife Center, is about 15 miles west of Tucson and is an outdoor museum; visitors move from one exhibit to the next along outdoor paths, and most of the exhibits and habitats are outside as well. We were there for about three-and-a-half hours, and it was a lot of fun. As a bonus, I also learned a lot that I didn’t know 😀

We started with the reptilians, amphibians, and invertebrates exhibit (this one was indoors), and I looked at all the different kinds of snakes I need to avoid stepping on during my time here in Tucson. Jamie taught me useful saying from Bill Nye the Science Guy that I’ll share with you: “Red touches black, you’re alright Jack. Red touched yellow and you’re a dead fellow.” Catchy, right? I also learned that the growth cycle of frogs native to this area is much shorter than other places, in deference to our desert conditions.

Our next stop was the Earth Sciences Center, which we accessed by walking through a dimly lit “cave.” The walls of the cave were a bit slick, and I spent most the walk trying to remember the difference between stalactites and stalagmites (stalactites are the ones that hang from ceilings). In the mineral exhibit, I learned that Arizona is home to a large copper mining industry, and I was also fascinated by the malachite on display, which looked a lot like green foam on a rock. In the Ancient Arizona exhibit, I touched a piece of the Allende meteorite, which I was informed was probably the oldest rock I’ll ever touch.

After our time with rocks and minerals, the rest of the visit consisted of admiring native plants and animals or hunting for the animals that we were assured were in their habitats somewhere. We saw prairie dogs, a burrowing owl, a mountain lion, a great blue heron, a box turtle, beavers, otters, coati, a bob cat, and this bighorn, who I declared King of the Mountain:


We hunted for white-tailed deer, Mexican wolves, kestrels, parrots, an ocelot, and a tortoise. The black bear exhibit broke my heart a little bit; the bear was clearly visible at almost eye level, and it just kept walking back and forth between two small closed gates, trying to get away from all the loud humans and back in to what was probably a cozy cave where he/she gets fed. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth it went, trying the gates every time, just in case one of them was open this time. But they never were. It was really saddening. So now part of my brain is mulling over the pros and cons of zoos and wildlife centers like this one.

My favorite part of the visit was the hummingbird walk-in aviary; I’ve never seen hummingbirds so close. I’ve never seen one actually sitting still on a branch, but apparently they were feeling tired, because a lot of them were just chillin’ like this one (sorry, it’s a little blurry).


Like I said at the beginning, I had a lot of fun at the Desert Museum and learned a lot about this new place I’m living. The trip even gave me some things to think about, which is always good. If you’re ever in Tucson, I highly recommend a visit to the Desert Museum.

Catherine Shaw Catherine Shaw

METRO Center, Tucson, AZ

US-2, Class 2015