What is Earthpark?
Earthpark™ will be an internationally recognized educational
resource that provides a grand immersive learning experience unfamiliar
to most; one that inspires all generations to learn from the natural
world. In addition, Earthpark™ will be a family destination for
fun and discovery, a refreshing oasis of learning for the young and
old. And finally, and perhaps most important, Earthpark™ will
be a center that strives to bring families, communities, and industry
together to celebrate and nurture our two most cherished legacies – our
children and our environment.
This national learning center will include:
- Three indoor Amazonian tropical rainforest ecosystems
- An integrated, multi-level aquarium
- A state-of-the-art learning center for science literacy
- Interactive multi-media galleries with a 4-D virtual reality experience
Why establish an indoor tropical rainforest experience?
Following the great 19th and 20th century
traditions of building zoos and aquaria to inspire learning and conservation,
Earthpark™ embodies the design and construction of an entirely
new class of visitor experience.
Earthpark™ will strive to extend the educational reach of these
worthy institutions by integrating plants and animals within three
distinct ecosystems that make up the larger rainforest biome within
Earthpark™. Rainforest ecosystems are by far the most diverse
and complex in the world. They alone contain well over half of all
existing species on our planet and they are critical to Earth’s
life support; yet even many people who know this find it difficult
to understand how the rainforest could possibly personally affect them.
Earthpark™ will provide an interactive forum to facilitate learning
and to help people understand how important the rainforest and ecological
education is to our survival as a species.
Individuals of all ages will find opportunities to see relevance
in fundamental ecological principles that move far beyond plant and
animal identification. It is our hope that engagement in Earthpark’s
biome and state of the art educational platforms will provide individual
insights into ways that new ecological understanding can be made part
of daily life and that, collectively, the effect of these individual
efforts will be positive beyond anyone’s expectations.
The Earthpark™ visitor experience is solidly grounded in science
literacy intended to leverage the incredibly vibrant, mysterious and
highly endangered Amazonian rainforest as an immersive teaching tool
that will inspire people to learn from the natural world.
What kind of plants and animals will Earthpark™ feature?
Earthpark™ will contain more than 1,000 species of plants, animals,
birds, fish and reptiles. Living plants, such as the Acai Palm, the
Itauba, and the rubber tree will help form a complex rainforest canopy,
viewable at multiple levels from dense, winding pathways to aerial
catwalks more than 100 feet above the forest floor.
Colorful birds, such as the blue and yellow macaw, the white-winged
swallow and the screaming piha, will add to the sights and sounds of
the visitor experience as they take up residence in the trees, river
banks, and dense foliage of the deep jungle. Meanwhile, Earthpark's
Amazon waters will be stocked with aracu, electric eels, freshwater
sting rays, and even several species of piranha.
The animal residents of Earthpark™ may include such wonders
as the three-toed sloth, giant otters, spectacled yellow caiman, ghost
bats and red howler monkeys. Reptiles and amphibians will also be plentiful
with snakes, such as the boa constrictor, many species of frogs and
lizards, such as the chameleon and iguana.
Leading experts in the field of animal husbandry and horticulture
will design and maintain Earthpark’s exhibits. Iowa's leading
universities and colleges will partner with Earthpark™ to maintain
and enhance the facility's collections.
Who manages Earthpark™ and the design process?
Earthpark™ has a world-class design team with years of experience
designing and building multi-million dollar projects. The design team
is led by Grimshaw
Architects, designers of the Eden
Project. The extended team includes respected companies such as
RDG Design, the Iowa-based associate architectural firm, and other
structural, engineering and material experts, specialized exhibit designers
Earthpark™ has engaged education design and science teams to
steer development of programming for its proposed world-class learning
How much energy and water will Earthpark™ consume?
Using leading green design concepts by
Grimshaw, high-efficiency, energy saving materials such as ETFE foil
made by DuPont and others, and leading automation and climate control
technologies by Siemens, Earthpark™ will utilize about one-quarter
to one-half the energy of a major national aquarium on an equivalent
In addition, the facility’s rugged, high-transparency, three-layer
ETFE-foil roof will have super insulating properties that will be used
to help regulate the rain forest environment during Iowa’s varied
Meanwhile, Earthpark™ will use a mix of alternative and renewable
energy systems to help power and run the facility: wind, geothermal,
biomass and solar energies are all possibilities. Depending on site
location and partner needs, additional energy savings may be possible
by using lower cost alternative fuels grown here in Iowa and more efficiently
distributed energy generation and storage techniques.
A complex water collection system will recapture up to one-third
of annual on-site precipitation. A rooftop collection system will yield
about 600 gallons per 1,000 sq.ft. of roof for each inch of rainfall
- cleansed and recycled through an external water purification system.
The collection system will be an important source of water for non-potable
uses on site, including Earthpark’s mission critical aquarium.
Within the masterplanned area, Earthpark™ and its development
partners will utilize state-of-the-art storm water collection and detention
systems to help minimize any negative hydrologic impacts on the environment.
These systems will be an integral part of the Earthpark™ story.
What are the educational opportunities at Earthpark™?
The integration of an environmental experience,
interactive exhibit galleries, an innovative learning center, a teacher
training center and research institute is unprecedented and has the
potential to be a pioneering model of global importance.
The proposed learning center, contained within the project, will
be a collaborative resource for educators, researchers, students and
other learners at all levels. Earthpark™ will use nature and
the environment as its “primary textbook,” and leverage
the tropical rainforest biomes, its core science programming, virtual
reality technology and outdoor exhibits to create 21st century educational
programming that transcends blackboards and textbooks.
Specific information on programs and classes is under development
and will become available as Earthpark™ nears completion.
What will be the role of colleges and universities?
Earthpark™ foresees a long-term partnership with the administration,
faculty, researchers, staff and students of colleges and universities
linked around the globe. There will be many opportunities for these
and other institutions to be part of educational and corporate programs,
on-site research, internships and so on.
Where can I get more information?
Earthpark’s website, www.Earthpark.net provides
the most comprehensive source of information for the public. Additional
questions may be directed to Earthpark™ using the website feedback
form or by calling 515-243-9300.