55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
Regular Hours:


9:30 am – 5:00 pm


11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:


8:30 – 9:30 am


10:00 – 11:00 am

The Academy will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Planetarium will be closed Sep. 22, 23, 24

Fly on the Wall 

January 13, 2009

Learning to Fly

In the past two months, two Silver-beaked Tanager chicks have hatched out in the Academy’s rainforest exhibit. Right now, they are honing their flying skills in the exhibit, and Academy biologists are monitoring their progress daily. For this species, it takes just four weeks from the time the egg is laid to when the bird is self-sufficient. The timeline goes something like this:

1. The parents select a nesting site, build a nest, and lay 2-3 eggs. Our biologists have been collecting valuable information about successful nesting/fledging sites in the exhibit, which they hope can be applied to other species.
2. Incubation of the eggs lasts about 12 days.
3. After hatching, the chicks stay in the nest for about 10 days.
4. After the chicks are able to leave the nest, the parents continue to feed them for another 5-7 days, while their tail feathers grow. This is the fledgling stage. At this point, they’re not strong fliers yet. They have short stumpy tails, but are still quite mobile.
5. Once they have the feathers and wing muscles needed for flight, the chicks are basically on their own and considered juveniles. This is the stage these two chicks are in now – they are fully-flighted and self-sufficient, but not sexually mature.

Silver-beaked Tanagers at the AcademySilver-beaked Tanager fledgling
In the left-hand photo, the fledgling is on the left, next to an adult female Silver-beaked Tanager. In the photo on the right, a closer view of one of the fledglings.

Filed under: Aquarium,Exhibits — Helen @ 1:44 pm

January 1, 2009

Happy New Year, Planet Earth!

Make a New Year’s resolution for the planet this year – you can pick up ideas from the Academy’s new sustainability card, and tell us what your top green resolution is for 2009.

Filed under: Sustainability — Helen @ 1:01 am

December 30, 2008

Aquarium tanks find new homes

875 Howard Street – the staff has moved, the research collections have moved, the animals are out, so what’s left at the Academy’s temporary home? A few odds and ends in the basement, and until recently, hundreds of empty aquarium tanks, cages, and terrariums.

Now, those pieces are on their way to new homes. The largest tanks, at 20 feet across (below, right), had to be cut in half to fit out the door. Some of the equipment is being re-used behind-the-scenes at the new Academy. And just about everything else has been donated to other institutions in the Bay Area, which will re-use the equipment for their own exhibits and educational programs. Read more here.

aquarium tankaquarium tank

Filed under: Aquarium,Sustainability — Helen @ 4:39 pm

December 16, 2008

“Share your Ideas” in action

If you’ve visited the Academy’s exhibit on climate change, you may have seen a wall labeled “Share Your Ideas,” where visitors can post their thoughts on how to lessen their impact on the environment (if you haven’t seen it, it’s pictured below, left). In search of a more sustainable source for the tags on the wall, our creative services department and our printer Paragraphics came up with a great solution: re-using make-readies.

What’s a make-ready, you ask? It’s the paper that goes through the press to perfect the ink coverage and colors for a print job. Paper often goes through the press several times before being recycled, and the effect is interesting layers of text and graphics on one side. The other side is blank for writing on. Paragraphics has offered the Academy free use of their make-readies, and they even trimmed and punched the paper to fit the current specs of the posting board. Kudos to those who put this creative, sustainable idea into practice!

Filed under: Exhibits,Sustainability — Helen @ 12:20 pm

October 6, 2008

A Bear of a Move

Friday marked the last scheduled trips for the Academy’s collections move. One truckload at a time, 20 million specimens have made their way from Howard Street to Golden Gate Park. There are a few odds and ends left, but Friday’s two trips included one of the most unwieldy specimens, the 11-foot tall Kodiak bear featured in the video clip below. At right, additional specimens from the Ornithology and Mammalogy department being unloaded in Golden Gate Park. Since the time the Academy first moved to Howard Street, the research collections have grown by about 2 million specimens.

Filed under: Great Migration,Research Departments — Helen @ 5:55 pm

September 28, 2008

Sunday update

It’s Sunday, the Academy’s first regular admission day. The lines are moving, and the activities in the Music Concourse continue today. If you’re headed to Golden Gate Park, we look forward to seeing you there.

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 11:18 am

September 27, 2008

Opening Day Alert

The Academy’s opening day has arrived! We are excited to be back in the park, but no more free passes are available for today, Saturday, September 27, 2008. The building is at capacity. You may purchase tickets online for a future date.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Helen @ 2:33 pm

August 18, 2008

Snapping turtles enter Swamp

The Swamp tank is starting to fill with life. The first fish and the alligator snapping turtles were introduced this week, in advance of the alligators, which will be arriving shortly. Each turtle traveled from Howard Street in its own crate, and they all received physical exams and x-rays before the biologists lowered them into the Swamp. Snapping turtle video clip.Stay tuned for an update after the “big guys” arrive.

aquarium animalsaquarium animalsaquarium animals

Filed under: Aquarium,Great Migration — Helen @ 9:38 am

July 30, 2008

Microscopes en route to Afghanistan

The Academy’s Education division recently donated twenty compound microscopes to a local San Francisco teacher who travels to Afghanistan each summer to do trainings with science educators. After years of use in Academy education programs, the microscopes will now go on to inspire students half way around the world – along with anatomy charts, models, hand lenses, and other educational materials, they’ll go to teachers in rural Afghanistan, some of whom may never have used a microscope before. The teachers will then be able to use those tools to bring hands-on science activities to their students. Find out more about the project at http://blog.schoolisopen.org/.

Filed under: Education — Helen @ 11:44 am

July 25, 2008

Blue whale rising

The Academy’s 87-foot-long blue whale skeleton now hovers above the west exhibit hall, the future home of an exhibit called Altered State: Climate Change in California. From a whale watching boat or photo, it can be difficult to grasp the scale of these massive creatures (the largest mammals on Earth)…but it’s incredible to see a skeleton up close and realize you could easily stand up tall inside its ribcage.

Catch a glimpse of the week-long installation process below:

Filed under: Exhibits — Helen @ 1:20 pm
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