The continent of Antarctica is a frozen wilderness with no permanent human settlement. It is almost completely covered by a huge dome-shaped ice sheet. The ice has formed by the accumulation of snow over hundreds of thousands of years and in some places is over 4km thick.
Beneath the ice lies a hidden landscape of mountains, valleys, lakes and plains. Antarctica is separated from other landmasses by the Southern Ocean though it was once connected to Australia, South America and other continents as part of the supercontinent Gondwana. Many countries, including Australia, maintain scientific research bases there and tourists visit each year.
Emperor Penguins, Snow Petrels and other remarkable animals survive in the coldest, driest, highest and windiest continent on Earth. With little plant matter available on land, life in the Antarctic depends on the availability of food in the surrounding waters. Most of the larger Antarctic animals including seals, whales, seabirds, fish and squid depend directly or indirectly on Antarctic Krill, small shrimp-like crustaceans that are abundant in the Southern Ocean.
In the Wild Exhibition we have many animals from Antarctica on display. The Regional Animals box at right contains a selection, with information about why they are special and how they are faring in the wild.