Open Wednesday - Sunday
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

All Ages

Outside the Animal Discovery Zone


Discover what it's like to see your favorite bugs up close and personal with augmented reality! Scan QR codes to create 3D models of astonishing animals that you can explore with your family to investigate what makes them unique. Then, you can work together to figure out what your new friends eat and feed them to help care for the critters!

The Making of Bugtopia!

Why bugs?

  • We use the word ‘bug’ in the name, but all the critters are actually animals
  • ADZ animals aren’t always visible or active in their enclosures. There are more than 20 different vertebrate species and 10 different invertebrates species in the ADZ! How many animals in Bugtopia can you find in the ADZ collection?
  • The animals in Bugtopia are fun to talk about! They are visually striking, currently in the ADZ, or local to the Bay Area. Find out more about them below.
  • We designed the exhibit so that visitors can feed the animals, something that helps people feel a connection with the animals and build empathy for them

Family Talk Tips

Get your child talking to accelerate their science learning!

Encourage observation and connection:

  • What do you notice about how the animal looks/moves/behaves?
  • What body parts can you identify and what do they do?
  • Does it remind you of anything else you’ve seen in other animals, plants, or objects? Why?

Encourage questions and predictions:

  • Based on what you’ve observed, what do you predict that it eats? What evidence have you gathered to support your prediction?
  • What do you call an animal that eats only _____?
    • Herbivores have mouthparts that chew (as in leaves) and suck (as in nectar)
    • Carnivores eat other animals, and in general, are active and powerful. Some carnivores are arachnids and use their fangs to liquefy and drink up their prey. 
    • Detritivores feed on dead or decaying animal and plant material (as in carrion, dung, or leaf litter)
    • Insects can switch feeding types at different life stages. Some don’t even eat as adults! 

How does the augmented reality work?

  • The code is read by the program and the 3D model is generated and overlaid over the video feed
  • The 3D models overlay over the video look realistic and allow you to experience interacting with the bugs, people report a stronger emotional response to seeing the bugs like they are real.
  • Getting to interact with and feed the animals invites exploration and discovery and promotes conversation between adults and children
  • The AR program was designed by Eddie Carbin, a creative technologist whose goal is to create meaningful experiences that leverage emerging technologies.

About the bugs

  • We took microscope photos from the Essig Museum of Entomology at UC Berkeley for the game and made all the 3D models to match the real animals.


This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (Grant #MG-40-18-0005-18). The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this presentation do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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