The Nearctic encompasses Greenland, Canada, the United States and parts of Mexico. Environments range from Arctic tundra and evergreen forests to grasslands and deserts.
Black Bears, Racoons and beavers are well-known mammals of the region. There are over 700 bird species including Great Horned Owls, Northern Mockingbirds and Greater Prairie Chickens. Large, hoofed animals including Moose, Elk and Mountain Goats can be found here. The Great Plains once supported enormous herds of Bison, now reintroduced and protected in National Parks.
North America was the site of the world’s first national park. Yellowstone National Park was declared in Wyoming in 1872, and over 6,500 national parks now exist across the globe.
North and South America have been joined at the Ismuth of Panama for the past three million years. Before this, they were widely separated and different groups of plants and animals evolved in each region. Once the two landmasses joined, many animals moved between them. Animals of northern origin such as llamas, tapir and pumas moved into South America and animals of southern origin, such as armadillos, opossums, and porcupines, moved northwards.
In the Wild exhibition we have many animals from Nearctic 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.