Spiders roam free at new L.A. museum exhibit

LOS ANGELES The Spider Pavilion is an outdoor exhibit featuring several hundred spiders that provides a fun, safe way to dispel the myths about the eight-legged creatures.

"If one person has had a negative experience with a spider, then we tend to think that all spiders are going to come out to get us, which is definitely not the case," said Lisa Gonzalez, a spider care technician.

The potentially dangerous spiders are kept in glass cases, but the other hairy residents are allowed to roam free, which makes some people nervous. But Gonzalez said visitors need not worry.

"The vast majority of spiders are very, very shy, they're very nonaggressive," she said.

To enforce the point, Gonzalez held a furry, orange-and-black tarantula. The large specimen appeared calm and freely crawled over her hands and forearms.

"This is one of the tarantulas that lives here at the museum, and she's actually one of the handleable tarantualas, as you can see," she said. "She lets us pick her up, and we let people touch her."

Visitors can meet all kinds of new friends, like a Golden Silk Weaver all the way from Louisiana. Jacob Hansen, 9, nicknamed the spider Tina.

"It's big, and it has different colors, it's interesting ... it's just huge," he said.

Another spider featured was the Orb Weaver, who can be thought of as the cousin of Charlotte Web.

The more time you spend at the exhibit, the more fascinated you will become with the world of spiders.

"They're beautiful," Gonzalez said. "I think that's the main reason why people are intrigued by them."

The exhibit ends Nov. 7. Visit www.nhm.org or call (213) 763-DINO for more information on pricing and hours.

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