Press Release

Stephanie Stone (415) 379-5121
sstone@calacademy.org
Helen Taylor (415) 379-5128
htaylor@calacademy.org

What's On in December 2011 at the California Academy of Sciences
Events & Lectures

New! Don’t miss ’Tis the Season for Science, from November 23, 2011 - January 16, 2012. Experience indoor snow flurries, get up close and personal with live reindeer, and learn how some of our most beloved holiday symbols and traditions are connected to the natural world. See where cinnamon comes from, learn little-known facts about mistletoe, and find out if partridges really live in pear trees. The science behind the food, plants, and animals we associate with the holidays may just surprise you!
 
Note: The Academy will be closed on December 25, 2011.

DECEMBER EVENTS

A special program for 'Tis the Season for Science
REINDEER RENDEZVOUS
Daily at 12:30 pm

Gather 'round for an up close and personal experience with live reindeer, known as Nomads of the North. Learn about their fascinating adaptations including an annual migration of up to 3,000 miles per year, and why they are so important for ecosystems of the far north. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
A special program for 'Tis the Season for Science
PLANETARY EXPLORATION
Daily at 12:00 pm from December 1-16
Daily at 2:30 pm from December 17-January 2

Planet Earth goes through remarkable changes every winter, and through Google Earth software we can take a close look at how seasonal phenomena like the winter solstice affect life. Explore how life has adapted to Earth’s unique quirks, and even investigate the possibility of life on other worlds! Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
A special program for 'Tis the Season for Science
HOLIDAY QUEST
Daily at 1:30 pm

Play the role of an Academy researcher travelling to remote parts of the world in search of the wildlife that inspire some of our favorite seasonal traditions. In this fun, interactive game-show-style program, explore the globe, gain a new perspective on holiday plants & animals and the places from which they come, and perhaps even win a prize. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
A special program for 'Tis the Season for Science
HISTORIC CALIFORNIA REVISITED
Daily at 11:30am from December 17-January 2

Discover how Californians of yesteryear viewed conservation and their natural surroundings in a colorful, interactive historical program. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
A special program for 'Tis the Season for Science
TART SIDE OF DNA
Daily at 12:00 pm from December 17-January 2

Cranberries are a staple food of winter feasts, and like all other life, they also contain DNA. Have you ever wondered what DNA – “the essence of life” – would look like in the palm of your hand? In this 15-minute program, we will crush up cranberries and extract their DNA for all to see up close, without the aid of a microscope. Join in the investigation, and discover why some scientists call DNA the most extraordinary molecule on Earth. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
A special program for 'Tis the Season for Science
FESTIVE PERFORMERS
Throughout December, check website for schedule

The Academy has invited a variety of talented musicians, dancers, theater troupes, cultural groups, comedians, and others to join its celebration of this festive time of year. Enrich your family’s Academy visit with art and music from some of the Bay Area’s greatest talents, including Dance Along Nutcracker, Un-Scripted Improv Group, Yuletide Carolers, and more. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
PENGUIN FEEDINGS
Daily at 10:30 am & 3:00 pm

The Academy’s African Penguins are always especially animated during meal time. Watch the birds dip and dive in their tank at the end of African Hall as a biologist dons a wet suit and hands out vitamin-stuffed herring and capelin. Each feeding takes 10 minutes, and questions are encouraged. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
CORAL REEF DIVES
Daily at 11:30 am & 2:30 pm

Watch as a diver suits up in SCUBA gear and plunges into the world’s deepest living coral reef exhibit. Outfitted with an underwater microphone, the diver will answer all of your reef-related questions. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
LIFE: A COSMIC STORY
Daily, proceed to the planetarium entrance upon arrival to get your show passes.

How did life on Earth begin? This tantalizing question forms the basis of Morrison Planetarium's newest show, narrated by two-time Academy Award winner Jodie Foster. Begin your journey by “shrinking” down to enter a single redwood leaf, and discover that all life on Earth shares a common ancestry. Then, travel through time to witness key events since the Big Bang that set the stage for life. Along the way, you will see two scenarios for the dawn of life on early Earth, and discover how our planet has changed since those microscopic beginnings. Free with Academy admission; seats are limited and show passes are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
P IS FOR PENGUIN — AGES 12 and under
Daily at 11:30 am from December 1-16

In this program specifically designed for children ages 12 and under, learn about Pierre, Howard, Ocio, and the rest of the African Penguin colony. Play a fun spelling game and learn the mystery word of the day. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
SOUNDS OF THE SWAMP
Daily at 1:30 pm

Learn more about this wetland ecosystem of the Southeast United States and its hidden value as we explore the swamp. Listen to sounds of the inhabitants as we follow the life of the American alligator from hatchling chirps to the booming bellows of mature adults, all beneath the moss-draped limbs of a bald cypress. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
New Schedule! LIVE BIRDS OF PREY
Daily at 2:00 pm, as conditions permit

Get up close and personal with rescued birds of prey including a Barn Owl, Swainson’s Hawk, and Turkey Vulture. Learn about these magnificent raptors' special hunting strategies and migratory habits from biologists providing their daily care. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
New Schedule! CALIFORNIA SPOTLIGHT
Monday – Friday at 11:00 am from December 1-16
Weekends at 11:00 am from December 17 – January 2

Throughout history, California has been home to some of the most unique landscapes and amazing wildlife found in North America. Join us in the Altered State: Climate Change in California exhibit for a special look at some of these animals, including the grizzly, the mountain lion, and the condor. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
EXPLORE THE LIVING ROOF WITH NATURALISTS
Every Monday at 3:00 pm

Learn about the Academy’s 2.5-acre living roof and the diversity of birds and insects that visit its 1.7 million native plants daily. Meet on the Living Roof viewing deck. Free with Academy admission; space will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
SHARKS & RAYS
Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:30 pm

Learn more about the Mangrove Lagoon’s shallow reef residents and watch a feeding on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
NIGHTLIFE – AGES 21 +
Thursday December 1, 8, and 15 from 6:00 – 10:00 pm

Every Thursday night, music, creatures and cocktails come together for NightLife at the Academy. Explore exhibits and aquarium displays while sipping creative cocktails, and let exotic animals from around the world transport you to the tropics, Tibet, and dozens of other remote destinations. Special planetarium shows will take you even farther afield. Each week features a live band or DJ, and a unique theme. NightLife is for those ages 21 and over; a valid ID is required for entry. Admission is $12 per person ($10 Academy members). California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org/nightlife.
 
SPECIMEN SPOTLIGHT
Fridays at 11:30 am

Did you know the Academy is home to more than 26 million specimens?! That’s a lot of fur, feathers, teeth and spines! Join naturalists at the Project Lab as we highlight a different specimen each week. Free with Academy admission. Naturalist Center at the California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
New Schedule! ANIMAL TALES – AGES 2-5
Every Saturday at 11:00 am
Monday, December 12 and 26 at 11:00 am

Children ages 2-5 and their parents or caregivers are invited to the Early Explorers Cove to listen to tales about nature, science, and the wonderful world around us. Stories come to life with songs and items like felt boards, rhythm sticks, and natural specimens. Free with Academy admission; space will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
FAMILY NATURE CRAFTS – AGES 4-8
Every Sunday (Except Dec. 25) from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Get creative with winter-themed craft projects designed for families with children aged 4 to 8. Takes place between the piazza and Swamp; space is limited, and 10-11am is a members-only hour on Sundays. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
SCIENCE STORY ADVENTURES – AGES 4-8
Every Sunday at 2:30 pm

Explore the natural world through stories, experiments, games and crafts.
Free with Academy admission; space will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Education Classroom at the California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
CHILDREN OF THE WORLD – AGES 3-5
Thursday, December 1 at 3:00 pm (Theme: Seeds, Corn & Beans)
Thursday, December 15 at 3:00 pm (Theme: Spices)

This special program highlighting children from around the world features stories, crafts, music and movement. Takes place in the Early Explorers Cove on the first and third Thursday of the month. Free with Academy admission; space will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Early Explorer Cove at the California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
LITTLE LEARNERS LAB – AGES 3-5
Sunday, December 4 and 18 from 3:00 – 4:00 pm

Families are invited to have their young learners be scientists-in-training and participate in fun hands-on experiments. December's theme is blubber & ice. Meet in front of the Project Lab on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. Free with Academy admission; space will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
TODDLER TREKS – AGES 1-3
Tuesday, December 13 at 11:00 am
Wednesday, December 28 at 11:00 am

Join the Academy’s Early Childhood staff for a caregiver/child participatory program designed especially for children ages 1-3. Each month will feature a different animal that shares our world—all of which can be found in the Bay Area or at the Academy. Participants will use props and their imaginations to “trek” together to the place each animal calls home. Please note that both programs in December are about penguins, so participants should register for only one date per month. Tickets are $6 per child, $4 per member child, free to adults with general admission. Note that museum general admission is free for children 3 and under. Space is limited; to reserve a place today, buy a ticket at www.calacademy.org/tickets/toddler_treks/, or over the phone at 415.379.8000. Early Explorers Cove, California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park.
 
SPROUTS: EXPLORING NATURE’S GARDENS – AGES 3-5
Tuesday, December 13 at 2:00 pm (Theme: Snow and Snowflakes)
Tuesday, December 27 at 2:00 pm (Theme: Winter in the Garden)

Explore a variety of nature’s gardens, including deserts, forests, wetlands and even your own backyard! Activities can include reading books, sprouting seeds or making simple crafts. Takes place in the Early Explorers Cove on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
GHIRARDELLI DAY
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Celebrate the sights, sounds, and smells of the holiday season with Ghirardelli Chocolate Company! Steve Genzoli, VP of Chocolate Development at Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, will share the art and science of chocolate – from bean to bar. Enjoy complimentary samples from Ghirardelli Chocolate & Ice Cream Shop, talk a walk in the spice forest, and learn more about the ingredients in your favorite treats. Free with Academy admission. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
FREE WEDNESDAYS
Wednesday, December 21, 9:30 am – 5:00 pm

The Academy is free to the public on the third Wednesday of each month. Admission is on a first come, first served basis, and early arrival is recommended due to the likelihood of high demand. Please note that final entry to the museum on free days is 4 pm. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000. www.calacademy.org.
 
PENGUINS + PAJAMAS SLEEPOVER (ages 5-17, with adult chaperones)
Friday, December 30 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 am

Why count sheep when you could count geckos, butterflies, sharks, and penguins? Now kids can camp out for a night at the California Academy of Sciences—and see the museum in a whole new light. Sleepovers include after-hours access to Academy exhibits, a special penguin talk, live animal demonstration, planetarium show, story time with cookies and milk, parking, breakfast, and more. Tickets $99 per person ($79 for Academy members), available at www.calacademy.org/sleepovers. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park. (415) 379-8000.



DECEMBER LECTURES & WORKSHOPS

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 4 from 1-4:00 pm
Defining Conservation Photography Workshop

Featuring Gary Sharlow, Photographer and Education Manager, California Academy of Sciences
Conservation photography is a vision of photography that has a long history with a new purpose. A conservation photographer's work begins once he clicks the shutter. It's what you do with these images that matters as it takes you into the active role of affecting conservation for the natural world. In this workshop, we will take a look at a variety of methods, tools and techniques that anyone with a DSLR can employ in an effort to help drive conservation through their photographic passion. 1-4pm (note: meet at 12:45 pm at the Academy's Business entrance, 75 Middle Drive E.); tickets are $50 for non-member adults, $40 for Academy members. Purchase tickets in advance online at www.calacademy.org/lectures, or by calling 415.379.8000; Open to ages 18+; California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park.
 
MONDAY, DECEMBER 5 at 7:30 pm
The Dark Side of the Milky Way

Featuring Dr. Leo Blitz, Professor of Astronomy, University of California Berkeley
A Benjamin Dean Astronomy lecture
The Milky Way is both a beautiful sight in the night sky and the nearest galaxy that astronomers can study. It is also home to many of the most spectacular images coming from the Hubble Space Telescope. But in its heart of darkness lurks a black hole with a mass millions of times greater than that of the Sun. In its outermost parts, the Milky Way is cloaked by dark matter: mysterious material of unknown, probably exotic composition that produces strange, observable effects at the Galaxy's periphery. Dr. Blitz will describe the Galaxy we know and see, as well as the black core and dark mantle of the Milky Way we cannot. 7:30pm; Purchase tickets in advance online at www.calacademy.org/lectures, or by calling 415.379.8000. Seating is limited and tickets are first-come, first-served. Tickets are $12 for non-member adults, $10 for non-member seniors, and $6 for members. Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park.
 
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 6 at 7:00 pm
A Debate: Who was the Hobbit?

Featuring Dr. Robert Martin, Field Museum of Natural History and Dr. Ian Tattersall, American Museum of Natural History
Event jointly sponsored by the Academy and the Leakey Foundation
Found on an obscure island, the tiny, small-brained, big-footed "Homo florensiencsis," or "the hobbit," is unlike any other discovery. Where did this being come from, and who are its ancestors? In this light-hearted debate, two eminent biological anthropologists, attempt to lift a corner of the veil obscuring one of paleoanthropology's most intriguing mysteries. 7pm; purchase tickets in advance online at www.calacademy.org/lectures, or by calling 415.379.8000. Seating is limited and tickets are first-come, first-served. Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors and Academy and Leakey Foundation members. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park.
 
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8 at 1:00 pm
Among the Great Apes

Featuring Suzi Eszterhas, Professional Wildlife Photographer, iLCP Fellow
A Conservation Photography Lecture
Hear stories of Suzi Eszterhas’s adventures photographing chimps, gorillas and orangutans across the wild landscapes of Africa and Asia. Guided by her images, this talk will highlight some of the latest findings by primatologists and the challenges we face in conserving the world's remaining populations of apes. Eszterhas is an award-winning wildlife photographer based in California and is best known for her work documenting family life on the African savanna. She has led instructional photography tours and workshops everywhere from Antarctica to the Arctic and Alaska to Montana, and is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers. Her photographs have been published in books, magazines and newspapers all over the world. 1pm; free with General Admission; seating is limited, so reserve your space in advance at www.calacademy.org/lectures, or by calling 415.379.8000. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park.


ACADEMY TOURS

For those wishing to enhance their Academy visit with a guided tour

Children’s Adventure Tours (Ages 5+)
10:00 am Daily

Treat the kids to a special day at the Academy by signing up for a new Children’s Adventure Tour. The Aquarium Adventure Tour explores coral reefs, lungfish, flashlight fish, and many other fascinating species, and even includes a visit to the aquarium’s prep kitchen, where the animals’ food is prepared each day. Each hour-long interactive tour includes general admission to the Academy for the entire day, VIP access to the Rainforests of the World exhibit, and a commemorative gift. A private animal encounter is included on Saturdays and Sundays. 10am; tours are for children ages 5 and up, and there must be an adult chaperone to every group of up to three children; $44.95 per adult, $29.95 per child. Discounted group rates available. For dates, availability, and tickets, visit www.calacademy.org/tours or call 415.379.8000. California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park.
 
Behind-the-Scenes Tour
Go beyond the California Academy of Sciences’ public exhibit spaces for an all-access, up-close-and-personal look at the science and inner workings behind the museum and its eco-friendly building.  Tour highlights include stepping into a working lab and interacting with Academy researchers, viewing of some of the Academy's treasured gems and minerals, and visiting the aquarium’s life support systems. The Behind-the-Scenes Tour also includes express entry into the building, VIP access to the four-story rainforest exhibit, reserved planetarium seating, and general admission for the entire day. Available daily. Tickets are $89 per person/$69 per person for members (general admission included); purchase tickets in advance online at www.calacademy.org/tours, or by calling 415.379.8000; California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park.
 
NightLife VIP Tour (Ages 21 +)
Every Thursday 6:00 – 8:00 pm

For an enhanced NightLife experience, join us on a NightLife VIP Tour. The one-hour behind-the-scenes tour includes a closer look at the unique native species of California’s largest living roof, a private viewing of the Academy's renowned gem and mineral collection, and interaction with Academy researchers. In addition to the tour, guests receive VIP access to the Rainforests of the World exhibit, reserved planetarium show seats, and an open bar and hors d’oeuvres in a reserved cocktail area prior to the tour. 6:00- 8:00pm (building closes at 10:00 pm); available every Thursday during NightLife. $59 per person (NightLife admission included); purchase tickets in advance online at www.calacademy.org/events/nightlife, or by calling 415.379.8000; California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park.
 
After-Hours Wine and Dine Tour
Every Sunday at 6:00 pm

Explore the Academy and its world class exhibits after it is closed to the public, and enjoy a delicious three course dinner designed by renowned chef and restaurateur Loretta Keller in The Moss Room. Begin with a wine reception, take a one-hour private tour of the Academy, and then sit down with your party for a special dinner in The Moss Room. This after-hours tour is unlike anything else in San Francisco, great for celebrating birthdays or anniversaries, entertaining guests, special occasions, or simply a relaxing evening with family and friends. Exclusive Wine & Dine Tours are available for corporate groups; visit the website for more details. 6:00pm; available every Sunday. $159 per person (dinner included); purchase tickets in advance online at www.calacademy.org/tours, or by calling 415.379.8000; California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park.