Sunday, September 23, 2018

Biodome de Montreal

Posted by Stu On November - 16 - 2013

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Photos taken October 2011

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Waaaaaaay back in high school, some of us took a 4-day trip to Quebec, with sightseeing in both Montreal and Quebec City, and I always wanted to go back.  So for our 2011 fall trip, we decided to combine two of our proposed vacation spots – Quebec and the Thousand Islands.

One of the places visited during my original trip was the Biodome in Montreal, and I decided to return to see if it was as cool now as it was when I was 16.  Somewhat like an indoor zoo, the Biodome attempts to completely recreate five different climate areas found in North and South America – tropical rainforest, Laurentian maple forest, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Labrador coast, and sub-Antarctic islands.  Each area is climate controlled, so when you walk into the rainforest, it feels like you’re in an actual rainforest; our camera lenses fogged up when we first entered.  This is a very different zoo than most, almost an exact opposite; instead of walking past animals in cages, you’re forced into their habitat.

The Biodome was originally one of the buildings used in the 1976 World Olympics and is right next to the Montreal Olympic Stadium and the an observation tower, which just so happens to be the world’s tallest inclined structure.  You can pay to take a ride up.  I did on my original visit, but we skipped it this time because the weather was pretty bad and the view wouldn’t have been worth it.

Fun fact:  the final scenes of Warm Bodies were shot outside the tower.

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Flash photography is not permitted in the Biodome, so some of the pictures are admittedly blurry.  It was hard taking pictures of moving animals, many with some sort of barrier between us, without flash.

The first biome is the tropical rainforest.  Again, it’s hot and humid, and there are monkeys and birds scampering over your head.  Maybe.  Usually they just chill in one spot.  Of course, any dangerous animals are not accessible.

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These guys were walking around, untying people’s shoes.

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The next area was the Laurentian Maple Forest (aka North Woods).  Like the rainforest area, this forest mimics the weather of its real counterpart, so it was a bit chilly when we walked in.  It was quite dramatic going from a hot jungle to October-temperature woods.

The landscapes are amazing.  It really looks and feels like you’re outside.

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The next area is the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  There are several tanks of sea life, including the obligatory touch tank.  Pseudo-cliffs and rocks make the seabirds feel at home.  They have free range of the area, so watch out for poop.  The temperature in here was pretty chilly, but the Biodome does not match the actual temperature of the gulf, probably because most people wouldn’t want to walk through it.

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The Labrador Coast/Arctic and Sub-Antarctic share the same room but on opposite sides.  Both are contained, so no, you aren’t walking through freezing temperatures.  But much to my wife’s dismay, the puffins and penguins aren’t roaming around freely.

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You can check out the Biodome’s site (in English) here.

I had more stops planned for Montreal, but again, the weather was pretty gloomy. The forecast was looking nicer for Quebec City, so we headed there instead.

Popularity: 9% [?]

Space Farms Zoo & Museum

Posted by Stu On November - 27 - 2008

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It’s a zoo! It’s a museum! Lemurs. Bears. Leopards. Kangaroos. Coffins. Indian artifacts. Preserved animal embryos. Old cars. Throw together Popcorn Park Zoo with the Shelburne Museum, add a pinch of the Mutter Museum, and you get something like Space Farms.

Most of the property is a zoo, but there are a few buildings off to the side of the zoo with random collections of just about everything imaginable. The building at the entrance, perhaps the most bizarre, is home to Goliath, the largest bear on record. Goliath lived in the zoo until his death and now greets visitors through the wonders of taxidermy. His skull is also on display.

Above him are many, many trophy heads.

The upper level of this building has all sorts of strange things on display.


Some stuffed minks and a phonograph. Why not?

To go anywhere beyond this building requires a small admission fee. Directly outside is the beginning of the zoo. There are quite a few animals, many I’ve never seen in other zoos. Again, like the Popcorn Park Zoo pics, there were often 2 fences between me and the critters. So if the pics are too “fency” for you, I apologize.

There are quite a few more animals than shown here.
One thing I will say is that many of the animals’ cages are pretty sparse. Most of the critters appeared to be very bored and had no toys or anything to do. Some really need bigger areas; that poor serval up there had nothing to do but pace back and forth in its tiny cage, while the deer have acres and acres to themselves.
Seriously, why do all the zoos I visit have so many damn deer? I think deer are the most boring animal to put in a zoo; even goats are more interesting. Even as a kid and going to Popcorn Park, all the deer they had pissed me off. I see plenty of them in the Pine Barrens and Poconos, and I currently have a family of them that walk through my backyard daily; I don’t need to pay to see them. I don’t care if these deer are Asian; they’re still boring ass deer.

…anyway, at one end of the property are several buildings that serve as small museums. Some have a specific theme, while others just have very, very random stuff displayed.


Old horse-drawn sleighs


Old horse-drawn glass hearse

One building is nothing but old vehicles.



One room displaying glow-in-the-dark rocks is lit only by blacklights.


Coffins!


Hearse!

One building is nothing but vintage toys that make me thankful I had He-Man, Ghostbusters, and X-Men figures growing up.


This eagle statue once sat on top of Grand Central Station.

All in all, the Space Farms is one-of-a-kind, and the few things I’m showing here don’t do the place justice. There really is a lot to see, and I attempted to give a somewhat thorough yet brief summary of it.
For directions and all that jazz, check the official site.


Double fail.

Popularity: 37% [?]

Popcorn Park Zoo

Posted by Stu On September - 21 - 2006

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Couple of things worth noting before I go on:

a) This page is more for promoting the zoo and its goals than anything else. I’ve been visiting it since I was 3 or so, and I sponsor some of the animals there (the muntjacks). This zoo is the only one of its kind in the country – all the animls housed here have been abandoned, neglected, abused, etc…
Money-wise, PPZ has not been doing so great the past few years, and if this helps to increase their visits or sponsorships, then I’ve served my purpose.

b) Some of the pictures are not all that great. There are many parts of the zoo where there are 2 fences between you and the animals. I did my best to avoid fences, but in some cases it was impossible.
Some time ago, several of the animals freely walked around the zoo grounds. Due to a somewhat recent attack (involving punk kids breaking into the zoo at night and murdering several birds), no animals, except for some birds, have free range of the zoo.

For more info about the animals, directions, or donating, feel free to visit the zoo’s website.

Or even better, grab the kids, swing by, and feed the animals some popcorn (oddly, most of them like it). There’s a wide variety of animals, from your standard barnyard bunch to lions, tigers, bears, and muntjacks (oh doom).


Turtles, tortoises, and the reptile room greet visitors.

Peacocks, along with ducks and geese, have free range of the zoo….and so do their babies, apparently.


Piggies love popcorn. One guy tried putting his head through the fence.


Monkeys! No, these ones don’t fling poo. At least I’ve never seen them do it.


Some animals get quite excited when they see popcorn.


Hard to tell, but it’s a unicorn deer.

And last but not least…my muntjacks.


lol

Popularity: 12% [?]

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