It looks like a parking meter and it eats money like one, but the new contraption unveiled Wednesday at the Fullerton Arboretum has a loftier purpose.
Visitors to the 22-acre garden at Cal State Fullerton will be asked to insert nickels, dimes and quarters in the meter. The money will be donated to organizations trying to save a Costa Rican rain forest.
Arboretum officials say they hope to raise $3,000 to $4,000 a year.
There are more than 120 meters at zoos, aquariums and other locations throughout the United States and Canada, arboretum spokeswoman Dorothy Callison said.
"Aside from raising money to help save an endangered habitat, this meter will remind visitors that we're a part of a planetwide ecosystem which is really interdependent," she said. "It will hopefully make people more curious about the plants and animals that depend on rain forest habitats and inspire people to learn more and become more active."
Steve Rose, vice president of the arboretum's governing board, said that every 2.5 acres of preserved rain forest saves about 500 butterflies, 200 orchids, two frogs, half a parrot and 1 million raindrops.
Rose said the coins will go to the Nature Conservancy and the Center for Ecosystem Survival to help purchase a rain forest.