This Way to the Baby Hippo!

The stories that National Park museum collections tell!

Director Fran Mainella and Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott get the full poop (and that would be bat guano!) on the baby hippo sign from Carlsbad Caverns National Park museum specialist Dave Kayser. The sign, left behind by early cave explorers in the 1930s, is part of an exhibit of artifacts at the visitor center of Carlsbad Cavern.

The Cavern's spectacular "Big Room" is the largest cave chamber in the United States and the ninth largest in the world. Found 750 feet beneath the surface, it is T-shaped measuring 1,800 feet by 1,100 feet, totaling 6.2 acres, with a ceiling that soars to 255 feet. Where there are caves there are often bats, and Kayser explained the importance of bat guano (used as fertilizer in many of the west's agricultural fields) using the exhibit's ore cart from the days of guano mining and a Mexican free-tailed bat from the park's natural history collection.

Director Mainella visited the park to celebrate National Park Week and help kick-off the centennial of national park museums.

(NPS Photo/Bridget Eisfeldt)

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