Museum brings Africa to home, garden show

The Wildlife Experience creating entry garden at convention center

A baboon is among the taxidermy animals being included in this year's Colorado Garden & Home Show at the Colorado Convention Center Feb. 15-23. The Wildlife Experience is setting up a "Wild Africa" exhibit at the entrance. Courtesy photo
A life-like bush duiker is among the features being installed by The Wildlife Experience at this year's Colorado Garden & Home Show as part of a "Wild Africa" entrance exhibit. Courtesy photo
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The Wildlife Experience is bringing the spirit of Africa to the 55th Annual Colorado Garden & Home Show.

The interactive museum, a valued Douglas County asset since 2002, is hoping to extend its reach by introducing the thousands of visitors passing through the doors of the Colorado Convention Center Feb. 15-23 to its “Wild Africa” exhibit.

Created specifically for the Colorado Garden & Home Show, the exhibit will include 30 carefully-arranged taxidermy animals that have been donated to the nonprofit museum's personal collection over the years. Organizers assembled the many Africa-oriented pieces into one exhibit that balances dangerous predators like lions and leopards with docile herbivores like springboks, said Connie Mohrman, exhibits manager for The Wildlife Experience.

The so-called “welcome garden” offers a relaxing place for visitors to get away from the crowds and booths. It also is intended to educate; each “specimen” set up by The Wildlife Experience includes fun facts about each animal, Mohrman said.

The stuffed creatures will be surrounded by lush garden plants, elegant water features and elevated terraces. Staged scenes show a waterhole gathering, an epic battle and serene grazing. Seven bronze sculptures depict chimpanzees demonstrating their role within the gathering, Mohrman said. Pavers form four different pathways that offer a leisurely stroll through the 5,500 square-foot entry garden.

Jim Fricke, executive director of Colorado Garden Foundation, said he expects the “Wild Africa” exhibit to “transport the public into a life-like African experience like they have never experienced before.”

It is the first time The Wildlife Experience has been involved in the Colorado Garden & Home Show, and the museum is making the best of the opportunity.

“Exposure is definitely the biggest benefit. It draws so many people,” she said. “They can learn about where we are and we'll have volunteers there and employees in booths talking about our programs.”

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