Close encounters with the world’s most dangerous creatures

Linda Mak

The school holidays are on in Paris and the rain has returned, so why not spend an afternoon at the Palais Découverte and visit the POISON exhibit. The exhibit displays 30 live poisonous or venomous reptiles, amphibians and insects of various toxicity levels. Each double-encased terrarium has a placard that explains how harmful they are to us and what their poison or venom might be used for.

I first heard about the POISON exhibit strangely through one of the many Gilet Jaune headlines. Back in December, in fear of vandalism from the Gilet Jaune’s ritual Saturday protests in the area of the museum, the exhibit was closed for that weekend and the most poisonous animals were evacuated for safety reasons. Yikes! Imagine a 4 meter Black Mamba suddenly loose, sneaking around the sewers of Paris?



Black Mamba on the move.


The Golden Dart frog, one of the most dangerous animals in the world.

With all the dangerous animals well back in their enclosures, we went to the Poison exhibit with 4 kids aged 9 to 12 and they really enjoyed it. It would be great for younger kids too if they don’t get squeamish from creepy crawly things.

The exhibit is not too large but there’s a lot to see, read and wait for, as you watch to see if a frog, snake or lizard will move. It’s very interesting to learn where some of our special drugs or weapons have come from, for instance, did you know there was a racehorse doping scandal involving the use of poison from South American Waxy Monkey frogs? Or that the venom from a Gila Monster has been used to develop drugs to treat type 2 diabetes? At certain times during the day, there are presentations, in French, on how the venoms and poisons are used in medical research today. Check the website for the daily schedule or get a program when you buy your ticket.


This poor guy was being squeezed to make racehorses go faster.

We timed our visit for the late afternoon after the day camp kids had left, so it was not crowded. The exhibit was clear and well organized and presented in French, English and Spanish. Overall I’m glad we gave this exhibit a chance and I fully recommend it. POISON ends Aug 11 2019.


Kermit’s dangerous cousin, the Waxy Monkey Frog.

But wait, there’s more!

Right next to the Poison exhibit is the ILLUSIONS exhibit, which was equally as fun and a lot of time can be spent there trying out the different experiments that trick your brain.



The rest of the museum has a full-day roster of science presentations every 30 minutes at different parts of the museum, including a Planetarium. The presentations are in French. The Electrostatic presentation was very entertaining but do not sit in the front row on the right-side of the stage, otherwise you will be shocked!

There’s so much to see here so you can spend a long time in this museum. So, if you need a snack, the café kiosk is pretty good.

Some other rainy day activities we recommend are:

  • For Art, check out the new Vasarely exhibit on at The Pompidou center.
  • For History and Geography, check out the little-known Musée des Plans-reliefs especially if you like maps. The museum, which is at Invalids and part of the Army Museum and Napoleon’s tomb, includes relief maps used by Louis XIV to Napoleon III for military strategy.  It’s free for kids.
  • For inventions and technology, check out the Musée des Arts et Métiers to see the old tools and inventions we used to use before we had an iPhone. Currently on is the ‘Sous la surface, maths’ exhibit, designed for older kids, which focuses on the math behind animated films, video games and 3D creations.
  • And for more Science and Industry, take a full day trip to Cité des Enfants and book your kids into their very entertaining interactive area for kids 2-7 or kids 5-12.

Thanks for visiting us and for more things to do this month check out ’18 Ways to Enjoy Paris in March’.



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