Sure, It’s Castro and Cigars, but Cuba Is Coral and Crocodiles, Too By WILLIAM GRIMES

Summary of Article: While Cuba may be best known for 1950's cars, cigars or socialist leader Fidel Castro, the island - or islands, more than 4,000 of them - is also an incredible natural theater. "¡Cuba!," a new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, tries to honor and encompass all of Cuba's rich history, culture, politics and natural environment. The exhibition is laid out like a Cuban street.

In the show, a video of a bicitaxi tour of Cuba.

Off to one side of the exhibit, the natural world is shown through large dioramas of the three main ecosystems of Cuba: the forests of Alejandro de Humboldt National Park in the extreme southeast; the wetlands of the Zapata Peninsula on the southern coast of northwestern Cuba; and the coral reefs of the Gardens of the Queen, an archipelago off the south-central coast. The forest is filled with taxidermied predator and prey, extinct or not. The coral reef takes the viewer underwater, with simulated sunlight and endless films on flat screen TVs. In the wetlands, a violent Cuban crocodile leaps for a spoonbill, his dinner. The variety of Cuban landscape is a total shock to most and it erases the common misconception that Cuba is all sugar cane and tobacco fields. Throughout the rest of the exhibit, more native and famous organisms are displayed.

A Cuban crocodile, has just pushed off from the sand-bottomed shallows with its powerful tail, whipping the turbid water into a froth, ready to snatch a spoonbill in flight.

Analysis of Article: The content of this article is very noteworthy because the exhibit erases the idea that ecologically Cuba is just sugar cane and tobacco fields. These dioramas, artifacts and taxidermied organisms are suggesting that Cuba is a diverse and large ecosystem. In addition, this exhibit has just opened, so many people haven't even seen it yet. After more go to view it, new analysis may lead to new understandings of Cuba and maybe the perception of the country as a whole will change.

Cigar boxes from Cuba at the museum.

My Big "Takeaway": All eyes are on Cuba right now, as it is experiencing rapid change. I think its the perfect time to engage Cuba to learn more about them, culturally and ecologically. Through the ¡Cuba! exhibit, many Americans can experience the country without actually having to go there. Learning about Cuba is very important and it shouldn't stop there. The museum should make an effort to try to spotlight a different country and it's culture and environment every few years. Personally, I did not know about Cuba's heterogeneous ecosystem and I am sure that many are the same. This exhibit is eye-opening and everyone should try to go out and see it.

Posters by Cuban artists at “¡Cuba!”

For more information about the ¡Cuba! exhibit, check out this promotional video!

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