While most visitors to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park are ogling the albino alligator, those in the know are looking through the over 300,000 specimens from 166 countries that are housed in the Academy’s Herpetology Department.
This massive collection of reptiles and amphibians, which includes the Standford collections transferred in 1962, was started by one Galapagos toroise carapas specimen in 1853. It includes the the largest collection of Philippine amphibians and reptiles in the world. Over the last 160 years the collections has grown through donations and exhibitions.
Today the Herpetology Department has expeditions to Sao Tome and Pricipe (small islands off the west coast of Africa), Myanmar and China, and is viewable by appointment only.