Experience close encounters with the likes of a polar bear, a duck-billed platypus and a sabre-toothed cat – if you dare…

Face to face with a lion in the mammals gallery.

Explore the incredible range of mammal diversity, from huge polar bears to tiny pygmy shrews. Fossils and skeletons of extinct mammals are on display alongside specimens of their living relatives.

Child looking at the skeleton of an extinct sabre-toothed cat.

Smilodon, the extinct sabre-toothed cat displayed here as a skeleton, was a vicious predator which could grow up to 1.5 metres long – as big as a lion. The animal used its sabre-like teeth to stab the flesh of its prey.

Face of a polar bear.

There’s nothing very cuddly about this huge and powerful polar bear, which stands 1.5 metres tall. Polar bears, the world’s largest carnivores, hunt seals and also occasionally kill beluga whales, but are now under threat from the effects of global warming.

The duck-billed platypus.

The duck-billed platypus is a monotreme – along with two species of echidna, it’s the sole surviving mammal that lays eggs like a reptile and feeds its young with milk. These creatures are agile swimmers and, after an underwater courtship ritual, the female lays two eggs in a special burrow.

 Fruit bat, one of the bats on display.

Bats are the only mammals that can fly and, with 951 species in 19 families, they form nearly one quarter of all mammal species. These creatures are found in most parts of the world, but are facing numerous threats to their survival, including habitat loss