Animals and Plants at the Virginia Living Museum
The Virginia Living Museum is home to more than 250 species of animals and plants found throughout Virginia including reptiles, mammals, birds and fish. With its rivers and waterfalls, mountains and sandy coast, Virginia has an array of wildlife ranging from the extremely rare red wolf to the aluminous moon jellyfish. Virginia has over 10,000 species, boasting some of the nations greatest and most endangered wildlife including the shortnose sturgeon fish and hellbender, an amphibian that is rarely seen in the wild.
The Virginia Living Museum exhibits the largest collection of native plants in Virginia. Exhibits representing the coastal, piedmont and mountain regions of the state are planted with species appropriate to those regions.
Over the last 400 years Virginia’s habitats have drastically changed. Once covered with old growth forest, wetlands and floodplains, Virginia’s environment has been replaced by dams, roads, fields and houses. Wetlands and floodplains have been filled in to make room for crops and neighborhoods. Because of the drastic change in habitat, the woods buffalo, timber wolf, red wolf and other species have been extirpated. Virginia has 110 species on its Endangered and Threatened List. Eight can be seen at the Virginia Living Museum: the loggerhead sea turtle, red wolf, shortnose sturgeon, hellbender, bald eagle, canebrake rattlesnake, wood turtle and Roanoke logperch.
We can only imagine the wilderness that the first Jamestown colonists encountered in 1607. Listen to our podcasts to hear the words of these colonists as they saw many of Virginia's animals and plants for the first time.
The Civil War was fought throughout Virginia. Listen to our podcasts to hear the words of Civil War soldiers and civilians as they describe the animals, plants and geography of Virginia. A printed guide is available at the Museum.