Come to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary this summer and entertain your family for a day or inspire them for a lifetime. Less than 10 miles from downtown McKinney, The Heard is the perfect location for an exciting daytrip to delve into 289 acres of pristine nature, exhibits, and more. Over 6.5 miles of nature trails wind through The Heard’s diverse habitats, including permanent and ephemeral wetlands, bottomland forests, and upland prairies. Home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and plants, the sanctuary’s sights and sounds are sure to captivate your senses.
While you are exploring the sanctuary, stroll among fluttering native butterflies in our Native Texas Butterfly House and Garden, open June 1 through September 30. Learn facts about each butterfly species as they fly around, and maybe even land on you! The exhibit also creates a beautiful setting for pictures.
Indoor exhibits, including Animal Superheroes (through Summer 2012) and the Living Lab (permanent), and an outdoor exhibit, Animals of the World (permanent), offer learning opportunities for the whole family. With these exhibits, The Heard strives to teach people about animals and the pertinent role they have in nature worldwide through our Animal Ambassadors.
Many of the Animal Ambassadors that find a home at The Heard have a poignant story. For example, Cora, the White-nosed coatimundi ( or “Coati”), was trapped by people who intended to breed her for the pet trade. Her sharp teeth, long claws and lack of fear of humans make her a dangerous animal; she is not “pet” material. Additionally, White-nosed coatimundis are an endangered species in the United States and it is illegal to possess them. Cora was seized in a raid on an animal breeder in South Texas. While living there, she was kept in a very small cage. As a result, Cora still prefers a small space to the larger enclosure she has at The Heard.
Additionally, The Heard offers education programs for all ages including summer camps, night hikes, canoeing, and a ropes course. Studies have shown that spending time in nature plays a vital role in many facets of child health and development.1 Register for a Heard Summer Nature Camp and give your child the profound gift of an early connection to nature. These camps feature opportunities to investigate the wonders of nature on our 289-acre sanctuary, encounter Animal Ambassadors, and study nature-themed topics.
The Heard also offers specialty camps. Heard Nature Art Camps will allow your young artist to follow in the footsteps of great artists such as Audubon and Monet with unique opportunities to draw directly from nature and live animals. Our very popular Animal Keeper Camp 1 is already full; however, if your child has participated in a previous Heard animal care camp, he or she is eligible to participate in the Animal Keeper Camp 2.
This year, The Heard will also offer new Family Fun Mini-Camps, designed for kids (ages 4 and older) and adults to attend together! Each mini-camp will explore a different topic (aquatic studies, geology, or art) and includes indoor and outdoor activities. This is the perfect opportunity for parents and children or grandparents and grandchildren to experience nature together. All Heard camps are filling quickly, so register today!
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary is a private nonprofit organization and depends on volunteers, admissions, memberships, donations and grants to fulfill its mission to bring nature and people together. The Heard was founded in 1967 by Bessie Heard. Miss Heard was 80 years old when she saw the need to preserve a place where future generations could experience nature. Today, The Heard’s mission is carried out through education, particularly of young people, which emphasizes an appreciation of nature and its conservation. For more information, visit www.heardmuseum.org.
1 Further information about the health benefits children receive from spending time outdoors can be found in this article from the National Wildlife Federation, which provides a summary and links to several related academic studies.