November 17, 2015


Kate Moore, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations

(616) 929-1713;

 “The Robot Zoo”

New Traveling Exhibition Opening at

Grand Rapids Public Museum in March 2016


Grand Rapids, MI: The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) announced today that a new exhibition will open there on Saturday, March 19, 2016 titled The Robot Zoo. The exhibit is based on the book “The Robot Zoo,” and allows visitors to explore the biomechanics of complex animal robots to discover how real animals work.


The Robot Zoo reveals the magic of nature as a master engineer.  Eight robot animals and more than a dozen hands-on activities illustrate fascinating real-life characteristics, such as how a chameleon changes colors, a giant squid propels itself and a fly walks on the ceiling. 


The larger-than-life-size animated robots include a chameleon, a rhinoceros, a giant squid with 18-foot tentacles and a platypus.  Also featured are a house fly with a 10-foot wingspread, a grasshopper, a bat and a giraffe whose head and neck alone stretch 9 feet tall. 


Machinery in the robot animals simulates the body parts of their real-life counterparts.  In the robot animals, muscles become pistons, intestines become filtering pipes and brains become computers.   


Other sensory activities include “Swat the Fly,” a test of the visitor’s reaction time (one-twelfth as fast as a house fly’s), and “Sticky Feet,” where visitors can experience what it’s like to be a fly on the wall.  Triggering the “Tongue Gun” demonstrates how a real chameleon shoots out its long, sticky-tipped tongue to reel in a meal. 


Animation in the robots imitates real-life behaviors.  The robot chameleon rocks back and forth as it turns its head, looks around and fires its tongue at its insect prey.  The front legs of the platypus swim in breaststroke style while the tail moves up and down.  The tentacles of the giant squid grip a struggling fish, while the squid’s beak-like mouth opens to reveal a spinning food grinder.  


The Robot Zoo will be an engaging exhibition for children as well as adults, and will lend itself perfectly to expanding science and engineering programming at the Museum,” said Dale Robertson, President and CEO of the GRPM. “It is also another opportunity for us to partner with organizations in the community including John Ball Zoo, GVSU and The Geek Group.”


The Robot Zoo will be offered free of charge to Grand Rapids Public Museum members, and will have a minimal additional charge for non-members.


The GRPM is currently planning an opening event for The Robot Zoo for Saturday, March 19. Details will be announced in January 2016. Additional programming can be found online at