Discover Earth’s fellow inhabitants at these three amazing museums promoting Biodiversity!
The relationship between humans and animals has always been a complex one that at best can be mutually beneficial and dynamic or at its worst, completely destructive. According to recent studies, Earth is home to an estimated 8.8 million species...with only a quarter of it having been properly identified.
What makes us unique among animals and how exactly do we humans have such an incredibly large influence on other species and the natural world? What can we learn from our fellow inhabitants?
I recently visited three family attractions, (near and far from Montreal) that tries to answer these questions and that also puts us in direct contact with some of the fabulous creatures that inhabit this world.
Park Omega http://www.parcomega.ca/en/
Situated in Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours, Quebec, Canada (just north of Montebello) is a fantastic and vast 12-kilometre (7.5 mi) safari nature park complete with fields, lakes, meadows, small valleys, forests, and rocky hills. Park Omega is home to free roaming buffalos, wolves, bears, deer, moose, raccoons and several other wildlife species. The park is open daily, year round, but during the summertime, guests can also see and participate in various birds of prey shows.
The park is a 2 to 3 hour drive-through experience; Visitors enter the site’s predetermined paths with their own vehicle or they can join a bus tour with an accompanying guide. The park also offer three walking trails, playgrounds, a discovery center with a panoramic view restaurant and various picnic tables for those who wish to take THE perfect ‘selfie’ shot with a happy looking deer in the background !
As for the drive through experience, I found it absolutely wonderful to be able to be up close and personal with the “safe” animals (deer, elks) and to have a family of raccoons follow my tour bus for a small stretch. The park also runs two low-power FM radios stations that provide bilingual guidance, direction and information on the animals you encounter. At the beginning of the tour, visitors can purchase large bags of carrots at the visitor’s center to feed to the animals that come up to your window for treats.
*** Special up-coming activities include Maple Season at Omega Park:
From February 14 until the end of the maple season, visitors can stop by the old sugar shack to taste delightful taffy on snow. A true Canadian treat!
On the West Coast of Canada: Vancouver’s Aquarium http://www.vanaqua.org/
Informative, family friendly and home to a bevy of rescued marine animals, The Vancouver Aquarium (officially the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center) is a stunning public aquarium located in beautiful Stanley Park in Vancouver,BC. Recently designated as the first Canadian, Coastal America Learning Center by the US Environmental Protection Agency in October 2009, this designation is intended to strengthen the Canadian/U.S. partnership for protecting and restoring shared ocean resources.
Named as one of the top travel attractions in Vancouver, this non-profit organization is also a major center for marine research, conservation and marine animal rescue and rehabilitation worldwide. Except for the belugas, all their cetaceans were rescue cases. The aquarium also regularly rescues, rehabilitates and releases seals.
The Vancouver Aquarium was a pioneer in introducing professional educational naturalists into the galleries to interpret animal behaviors on a full time basis. Overall, I found the staff to be very caring, professional and to have developed a close bond with the dolphins, sea lions and other residing animals. During live performances and during feeding time, the staff happily educate young and old visitors about our impact on wildlife.
The Aquarium is a great attraction for all ages and often has specific events and exhibits that may appeal to the masses. I observed that children were fascinated with the otter and jellyfish displays and I personally enjoyed their 4D show that takes you on a journey into the ocean depths.
Next time you visit Vancouver do take the time to do a two-for-one discovery of historical Stanley park as well as a tour of the Vancouver aquarium.
On vacation in the South? Visit the Biodiversity museum in Panama.
Situated at the crossroads of the Americas, the Biomuseo (also known as The Biodiversity Museum: Panama Bridge of Life) is located on the Amador Causeway bay in Panama City. The stunning and colorful structure was designed in 1999 by renowned US / Canadian modern architect Frank Gehry. Completed in 2014, the building has the honor of being Gehry’s first Latin America design. (Gehry, whose wife is Panamanian, donated his design to the people of Panama).
Covering 4000 square meters and containing 8 permanent and one temporary exhibition gallery ( 6 of the 9 being fully completed) designed by Bruce Mau Design, the building was designed to tell the story of how the isthmus of Panama rose from the sea, united two continents, separated a vast ocean in two and changed the face of Earth’s biodiversity forever.
I really loved the introduction to Panama’s biodiversity film that showcased animals from all corners of the country. I was also struck by the permanent exhibition, a spectacular combination of art and science, that made scientific concepts physical by featuring dozens of 'devices of wonder ': spectacular life sized, artistic statues of the various extinct and still living animals that crossed over the continents.
In addition to the main galleries, the museum features a spacious public atrium, a gift shop, a cafe and multiple outdoor exhibits displayed in the surrounding botanical park.
The three remaining exhibitions galleries are expected to be completed in the next two years and will feature large fish tanks and a garden-like section where you will be shrunk down to the size of an ant and can discover the flora and fauna that tower over you !