An 18-foot giraffe cranes its neck to look at passing visitors. Across the path, ring-tailed lemurs swing between the trees. Nearby, alligators thrash in a swamp, and ostriches strut through the grass. The animal handlers at Long Island Game Farm—comprising a team of veterinary students and environmental workers—care for these native and exotic species in re-creations of their natural habitats. On any regular day, they guide visitors past enclosures populated by aoudad sheep, cougars, zebras, and red kangaroos, and demonstrate the creatures’ eating habits through scheduled viewable feedings. They also let visitors feed giraffes, goats, and zebras by hand, and discuss each creature’s lifestyle without judging them by their nighttime hobbies.
A series of trails winds through woods and public picnic areas, leading to areas such as Bambiland—an enclosure for Mediterranean and native deer—and Old MacDonald's Farmyard, where visitors can bottle-feed baby animals and hang out with pigs, rabbits, goats, and ponies. Park staffers also help smaller visitors on and off the park’s carnival rides that include spinning teacups, a miniature train, and an antique carousel. In the summer, they further engage children in Camp Zoo, a one-week day camp during which an experienced instructor teaches participants about environmental conservation and divulges facts and gossip about various animals.
The Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center throws its visitors into the shark tank. And the tropical lagoon. And the salt marsh. As executive director Bryan DeLuca noted in the New York Times, the center (formerly Atlantis Marine World) is one of the most interactive aquariums in the area, which snagged it a place on Parents magazine's list of the 10 Best Aquariums for Kids. The Atlantis-themed aquarium’s educational exhibits combine myth with science as they bring guests face to gills with creatures such as eels, jellyfish, seals, and clownfish. In addition to its indoor and outdoor exhibits right on the banks of the Peconic River, the aquarium delights guests with aquatic adventures such as snorkeling or receiving a photo op and kiss from loveable sea lion Java, who still dreams of one day being turned into a beautiful princess.
The Long Island Science Center seeks to promote the knowledge and love of science, mathematics, engineering, and technology in people of all ages. They adopt a “learning by doing” philosophy, which results in myriad interactive exhibits that explore subjects such as volcanoes, Egyptian hieroglyphics, the planets, and crime scenes. The museum also holds regular special and seasonal events, as well as special programs for school groups.
The Long Island Maritime Museum records, restores, and displays the history and story of life on the water of Long Island. The main building of the campus occupies the former Meadow Edge estate, and other historical nautical buildings from around the island have been transplanted to its grounds. These structures include exhibits such as the Wrecks & Rescuers exhibit, based on the annals of the United States Life-Saving Service. They also contain the Edward Smith Library of local nautical history and a collection of 19th- and 20th-century boat-racing trophies.
The museum's prized possession does not reside on dry land, though. In the nearby harbor, a fully restored 1888 oyster sloop named Priscilla can still venture out into the bay for both public and private sails.
The Long Island Museum contains a permanent collection of more than 40,000 pieces from the late 1700s to the present. Visitors can explore the museum's American art, historic documents, and full-size carriages to get an idea of what life was like in the past. The museum also hosts special events designed to engage the community and invite people to the museum, and will be celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.