The Conservancy of Southwest Florida opened the Susan and William Dalton Discovery Center last month, a $3.5 million dollar facility whose goal is to inspire a strong conservation ethic in all those who visit the center. The center is described as an interactive multi-sensory experience that immerses visitors in the Southwest Florida ecosystem through six galleries and 5,000 square feet of state of the art interactive displays. Andrew McElwaine, Conservancy of Southwest Florida president and CEO says, "The Dalton Discovery Center lets us bring the Everglades, Gulf of Mexico and all the beauty of Southwest Florida to our visitors in one location to help them learn to love and preserve this unique place that we live in."
Featuring more than 100 animals represented throughout the Southwest Florida ecosystem in aquariums and life-like displays, the center covers all aspects of the natural world in 5 habitats. Four snake species are represented in the Uplands Gallery, while an Everglades habitat displays a group of baby alligators. A 5,000 gallon saltwater aquarium features hundreds of exotic fish and is home to the only loggerhead sea turtle on display in Southwest Florida. The "touch tank", built to allow young children to physically interact with sea creatures like horseshoe crabs and sea urchins, is sure to be a popular display at the center.
"Bill and I are delighted the Discovery Center is open,” says Sue Dalton, for whom the center is named and made possible in large part, by the generous donation made by Sue and her husband Bill. “We feel strongly about the work being done at the Conservancy and the preservation of Southwest Florida’s ecosystem. This hands-on center provides a place for families to learn about the important issues and to be engaged in so many wonderful ways. We just love it and hope all the visitors will, too.” Bill, a radio broadcast pioneer with a long history of community involvement in Naples sadly passed away only a few short weeks after the center's grand opening. He was 80 years old. More information on the Dalton Discovery Center and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida can be found at www.conservancy.org/nature-center.