Really BIG Show Features 5 Life-Size Robot Whales at Natural History Museum


It sounds a little fishy at first.

Five whales manage to beach themselves at Balboa Park, but over the next few months the huge mammals continue to move and sing and some even wag their tails in an attempt to please onlookers.

The whales will be the centerpiece of a new exhibit, “Whales: Giants of the Deep,” which will feature five life-sized robotic whales accompanied by sound effects.

The exhibit will run Feb. 1 through May 13 at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. It includes life-sized models of orca, gray, humpback, narwhal and sperm whales.


Visitors are likely to be both entertained and educated by a 22-foot orca whose eyes, mouth and tail move amid clicking and whistling noises, or a humpback with waving flippers that emits a low-tone call.

The exhibit coincides with the real-life migration of the gray whale, museum director Michael Hager said.

“The subject matter is one of great interest to the people of San Diego because of the presence of the gray whale migration here,” Hager said. “The exhibit is also timely in that officials are considering removing the gray whale from the endangered species list.”

Besides the life-sized models, the exhibit will include 12 hands-on displays on biological features of different whales. Milk cartons will illustrate the huge amount of milk it takes to nourish a baby blue whale.

Children will be invited to don whale-like flippers and fins, and five question-and-answer stations will allow visitors to test their whale knowledge.

The exhibit was developed by Seattle’s Pacific Science Center and is the single largest exhibit ever hosted by the San Diego Natural History Museum in terms of cost, size and number of displays.


During the exhibit, the museum will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with extended hours Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Museum admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors 60 and over and $2 for children 6-14 years old. The gift shop will also offer whale-related items. For more information, call the museum at 232-3821.