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What do animals think about? Find out in exhibit from Fort Wayne zoo, Science Central

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Going wild

What: The new exhibit, “Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think,” explores the cognitive abilities of various animals. It was developed through a partnership of zoos and science centers, including the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo and Science Central.
When: April 19-Sept. 8. Hours now through June 9 are closed Monday and Tuesday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Summer hours beginning June 11 are closed Monday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Science Central, 1950 N. Clinton St.
Cost: $8, ages 3-64; $7, ages 65 and older; and free, ages 2 and younger. Annual memberships are $65 for two adults and any six children ages 17 and younger, or $100, which includes the basic membership, four free admission passes and other benefits.
Information: 424-2400 or www.sciencecentral.org

'Wild Minds' opens April 19

Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 9:31 am

A unique collaboration among Science Central, the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo and eight other similar institutions will take visitors inside the minds of animals.

The new exhibit, “Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think,” tentatively is scheduled for April 19-Sept. 8 at Science Central, 1950 N. Clinton St.

“This is going to be a fun exhibit,” said Martin Fisher, Science Central's executive director.

The exhibit's arrival here coincides with the opening of the Fort Wayne zoo April 20.

“We hope people will closely observe animal behavior when they visit the zoo, then come to Science Central to visit 'Wild Minds,'” Fisher said in a news release about the exhibit. “This combined experience will provide an excellent overview of how and why animals behave the way they do.”

The local hands-on science center and zoo worked on the “Wild Minds” exhibit with four other sets of partners — New York Hall of Science and Staten Island Zoo in New York City; Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the Oregon Zoo, both in Portland; California Science Center in Los Angeles and the Santa Barbara Zoo; and COSI (Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio) and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

The exhibit was developed through a grant from the National Science Foundation, the news release said.

Speaking by phone, Fisher said about three years ago he saw a web posting from the New York Hall of Science inviting other science centers to pair with zoos in their community and to all collaborate on developing what became the “Wild Minds” exhibit.

Fisher contacted Jim Anderson, Fort Wayne zoo director, and he said yes, Fisher said. The two men know each other and talk periodically.

They had to attend a few planning meetings, and then agree to stay in contact with other partners and to provide input and feedback on the exhibit design, Fisher said. They also had to agree to host the exhibit in their community, which Fisher was excited to do.

Aspects of animal intelligence the exhibit explores include:

*Crows using tools

*Parrots counting

*Chimpanzees taking a memory test (visitors can take the same test to see how they do)

*Octopi learning to mimic

*Dogs conveying different messages with various barks

*Dolphins exhibiting the ability to recognize themselves

The exhibit also covers some other topics, such as enrichment programs zoos use to keep animals' minds stimulated.