BBC's Mammals prepare to enter Natural History Museum

Story by Jack Foley

BBC television's immensely popular natural history series, The Life of Mammals, will begin a touring exhibition of the UK by visiting The Natural History Museum from January 8-13, 2003, before moving on to eight science and discovery centres across the UK until March.

Ideal for wildlife enthusiasts all ages and particularly families with children, the exhibition promises to give budding 'young Attenboroughs' the chance to discover the world of the warm-blooded, from incredible facts on mammal behaviour and adaptation to where humans fit in the huge diversity of this, one of the most successful groups on Earth.

Visitors can take a journey, guided by their five senses - sight, sound, smell, taste and touch - through a series of exciting hands-on exhibits and activities, including:

l Sight - The centrepiece of the event is a realistic mock-up of a cameraman's hide, where visitors can take a peek in to see what's being filmed. They can also have a go at editing together actual shots from the series and seeing, if only for the day, their own name in the credits.

l Sound - Visitors enter the SoundSphere, an inflatable interactive hemisphere, and are immersed in the sounds of nature - a British woodland, the African savannah, or the deep ocean. Hear the call of a distant bat, chimp or whale and then move towards it for a close-up encounter and to listen to incredible stories about the animal's life, recorded by Sir David Attenborough.

l Smell - Visitors are encouraged to take a big sniff to discover just how important smell is. They'll see that what stinks to one mammal may come up roses to another!

l Taste - Visitors discover why diet has had one of the greatest evolutionary effects on mammalian diversity and just how food can bring about changes in physical attributes and behaviour.

l Touch - From soft fur and downy fluff to rubber-like blubber and armoured scales, mammal coverings come in many varieties. Visitors can feel for themselves in this exhibit and compare their own skin with that of their warm-blooded cousins.

Darwin Centre Live - The Life Of Mammals events

A programme of live events held in the museum's new Darwin Centre will also offer visitors the chance to glimpse behind the scenes of Sir David Attenborough's latest landmark television series, and discover more about this diverse group of animals.

Twice a day, on January 10, 11 and 12 , visitors will have the rare opportunity to meet and talk with the Natural History Museum's mammal experts and The Life Of Mammals series producers.

January 10 - 11.30am & 2.30pm - Stranded Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises Around the UK
The museum has been involved in the National Cetacean Strandings Recording Scheme since 1913. The scheme allows the museum to study the diversity and ecology of whale, dolphin and porpoise species in the waters around the UK. Join museum zoologist, Richard Sabin, as he explores some of the commonly held myths about whale behaviour and find out how to become involved in recording whale strandings.

January 11 & 12 - 11.30am & 2.30pm - Making The Life of Mammals
From the tiny pygmy shrew to the enormous blue whale, mammals are the most complex and diverse group of animals ever to live on this planet. Join Mike Salisbury, series producer of The Life Of Mammals, on January 11 and assistant producer, Jonathan Keeling, on January 12, for the inside story on how the programmes were made.

The Natural History Museum, Kensington, London. Admission: FREE
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10am - 5.50pm, Sunday 11am - 5.50pm. Public enquiries: 020 7942 5000
Nearest Tube: South Kensington

RELATED STORIES: Click here to find out about the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2002 exhibition...
Click here for the bigger picture on the above event...
Click here for the Earth From The Air exhibition...
Click here for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2001 exhibition overview...
Click here for the T-Rex experience at the Natural History Museum...