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faqs

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:

  1. Three indoor Amazonian tropical rainforest ecosystems
  2. An integrated, multi-level aquarium
  3. A state-of-the-art learning center for science literacy
  4. 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 and horticulturists.

Earthpark™ has engaged education design and science teams to steer development of programming for its proposed world-class learning center.

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 area basis.

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 seasons.

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.