Reindeer exhibit display

SAN FRANCISCO (October 25, 2016) – Starting November 23, visitors to the California Academy of Sciences can revel in the wonder of ‘Tis the Season for Science, the museum’s annual holiday exhibit that explores the science behind the winter season. The Academy’s Piazza will transform as interactive displays encourage visitors to peer through “the eyes of a reindeer” to see how these intrepid animals use UV vision to find food underneath a blanket of snow, learn how and why a reindeer’s mighty antlers are among the fastest growing in the animal kingdom, and discover why these sturdy animals depend on a diet of moss and lichen to provide nutritional fuel during grueling winter months. Plus, visitors can meet a pair of live reindeer in the Academy’s East Garden, experience indoor snow flurries, step inside a giant “Snowman Theater,” and much more. A suite of holiday-themed programs, including quiz shows and live music performances, will get visitors up and moving as they learn about the fascinating science behind reindeer. The Academy is now open every day this holiday season.

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In and around the Academy’s central Piazza, visitors will find a wintry wonderland, complete with:

  • Indoor snow flurries twice an hour

  • A “Snowman Theater”—an immersive digital dome shaped like a giant snowman playing Lights of the North, a short, child-friendly show exploring the science and wonder of aurora borealis

  • Interactive displays that highlight the amazing adaptations of reindeer and invite visitors to see an animation of antler growth, feel how reindeer fur insulates against cold, spin zoetropes illustrating reindeer in motion, experience a simulation of reindeer vision, and trace a reindeer migration route

  • A stage for special programs including holiday-themed quiz shows and live music performances

  • A pair of live reindeer who will take up residence in the museum’s East Garden for the duration of the exhibit

See below for a schedule of daily and special programs at the Academy during ‘Tis the Season for Science.


Daily at 11:00 am, Piazza

Find out why African penguins are perfectly suited for their rocky ocean homes, from their tuxedo-like feathers to their super swimming skills. Waddle over and show us your best penguin bray! This interactive program is recommended for children 10 and under.


Daily at 12:00 pm, East Garden

Pop in for a visit with our special live visitors—a pair of reindeer—and discover how they travel up to 3,000 miles per year in the wild thanks to some unique adaptations. Trace their epic journey through forests and tundra to find out how these fascinating animals impact their far-flung habitat.


Daily at 1:00 pm, Piazza

Team up and explore the survival strategies of animals large and small with this friendly game show-style trivia contest. Work together with the help of a presenter to learn how animals like gray whales and monarch butterflies travel—and survive—during the long, cold winter season.


Performances at 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm on November 25-27, December 11, December 17-January 2

Live on the Academy’s Piazza stage, enjoy festive performances by musicians, cultural groups, and more on select dates this holiday season. All performances are free with Academy admission.

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