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New Additions: Part four

For our final week together, New Additions brings you the long awaited California Academy of Sciences.

After nearly ten years of planning, not to mention $500 million to construct the miracle, architect Rezno Piano’s vision is finally open to the public.

Visitors can check out hundreds of thousands of species and five major exhibits ranging from aquariums to swamps.

The academy is also home to a four-story rain forest, which was unfinished at the time when I visited. It looked amazing, mist occasionally filled the “bio-dome”, inviting all kinds of Pauly Shore jokes.

Located in the African Hall, the cuddly penguins were very adventurous climbing around their rocks, and seemed as curious about their visitors as we were of them. We’ll see in time if they continue to playfully dive below the surface for a better look around, or if they’ll grow tired of their surroundings like the penguins at the San Francisco Zoo.

The American alligators have returned to the academy, complete with a lazy albino alligator in tow. It was interesting to observe from the lower level how still the alligators wait under the surface of the water, looking like dead logs piled in a spot you would want to fish. Be sure to say hello to Bonnie, the alligator named through a visitor’s poll.

The academy also features the Naturalist Center, filled with all the information you need to learn about the animals and plants you see at the academy. It’s kid-friendly, features knowledgeable staff, and has a large library.

The California Academy of Sciences costs $19.95 for students with a valid ID, and is free the 3rd Wednesday of each month.

For more information, visit www.calacademy.org.

The Guardsman