Hawai’i Wildlife Discovery Center is now open at Whalers Village
The 5,000 square foot Hawai’i Wildlife Discovery Center at Whalers Village in Kā’anapali is now open.
The Discovery Center is made possible through a collaboration between the Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands National Humpback Whale Sanctuary, and Brookfield Properties.
“We have long needed a place that helps our visitors better understand how to respect native wildlife, while simultaneously gaining a greater appreciation for the islands. We depend on partnerships like the one we share with Whalers Village and Whale Sanctuary to be successful in our conservation efforts, and I couldn’t be more excited about this wonderful place we have co-created, ”said the Executive Director of HWF, Anne Bernard.
The Hawai’i Wildlife Discovery Center has over 30 exhibits on Hawai’i underwater life, the whaling era, cultural values and conservation work with contributions from several partners, including including the nonprofit Will Smith Foundation which sponsored the immersive experience, one of the highlights of the Discovery Center. The six-minute video is projected onto three walls with only the sounds of sea animals and waves rushing towards the shore.
Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, known for its success in experiential learning and innovative and hands-on technology, has organized the multimedia storytelling tools in an adjacent room which are shown on an 82 inches using an interactive kiosk. There are 45 locally produced, Maui-focused videos with topics ranging from “Voice of the Sea” to “Kumukahi: Stories of Living Hawaiian Culture” and “What Does It Take to Untangle a Whale?” “
“The objectives and approaches of the Discovery Center are well aligned with the mission of the Sanctuary. We are delighted to be working together in this new space, ”said Allen Tom, Regional Director of HIHWNMS.
Among the many artists and photographers featured at HWDC are cousins Kahi and Patrick Ching, who created spectacular murals on display both outside and inside the center, and a number of local artists specializing in l use of marine debris and sunken plastics on the beach in a variety of 3 -D and video screens.
Marine debris is a focal point of HWDC and the Kids Zone is a place where keiki (children) can use pieces of debris to create art and learn about how plastic and other types of pollution directly affect wildlife. and local habitats.
“We are honored to welcome this one-of-a-kind tenant, offering more than just retail offers to our buyers. Our customers, many of whom are visitors, seek the full Hawaiian experience and HWDC offers them, ”said Whalers Village General Manager Melissa Aguilar-Craft.
HWDC Boutique, owned and operated by Sea Maui, offers logo apparel, jewelry, photos, paintings, prints, books, children’s coloring books and more. Many products come from artists and photographers also exhibited in the Center. There are also sustainable products offered with an emphasis on the local origin in Hawai’i.
A portion of the proceeds from sales of the gift shop and admission fees to the Discovery Center will fund the conservation work of the Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, new exhibits and special exhibits. The space will also allow HIHWNMS to provide education and outreach programs on the west side of Maui, as well as a location for volunteer opportunities and community gatherings.