Escaping the cold, heading to the tropics at Montreal’s Biodome

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Jan 092016
 

fossilWe’re starting to get into the swing of things in 2016, which means Papa and I are back to work and the kids are more regularly at daycare. It also means we have to have family days on *gasp* the weekend. I was a little afraid to go out to the Biodome on a Saturday, but as a friend suggested it might be, it was actually quite calm. Sometimes the busiest days at Espace pour la Vie (Biodome, Insectarium, Botanical Gardens) are during the week when daycares and schools take over en masse.

This is because Espace pour la Vie isn’t just a run of the mill museum. There are all kinds of activities specifically for schools, and financial assistance is also available for schools in underprivileged areas.

We wind up at the Biodome pretty regularly, and as Babe takes more and more interest in life sciences, I can only imagine we’ll be back again soon. Until February 7 the Biodome is still in Tropical Adventure mode! This means two things:

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Espace pour la vie (Martine Larose)

An adorable puppet show called Capy’s Big Day. Writer, director, designer and screenwriter Valérie Galarneau took her inspiration from the animals at the Biodome (obviously starring a capybara. We got a glimpse of the zoo’s real live capy as we passed through the rainforest section. While it kills me in the heat of summer, this is my favourite section. Takes me back to the time I spent in the Ecuadorian rain forest a few years ago. The show, geared toward 3-8 year olds–but enjoyable even for those of us who are a little older! is the story of  a capybara who decides he wants to be king of the forest now that he’s all grown up.

Also special at this time of year is Commander Macaw who greats everyone in the Tropical Adventure event. Visitors are invited to play and dress up in the “Beaks and Bandaids” rescue centre. They learn how to feed and care for the stuffed animals, just as though they were real ones.

mirrorWe spent a long time in an area we had never before discovered, the Fossil Affair, which included a 10,700 year old beluga skeleton. The exhibit is supposed to be for kids 6+, but Babe really did learn what a fossil is. There’s a quiz, where kids choose which 3 of the 5 objects are fossils and why, and she nailed it.

Another new area was this weird, dark maze of projections and mirrors. Papa said it was “a-maze-ing,” and we all agreed.

Jan 022016
 

eco8I’d have a hard time coming up with a more perfect place to walk around on a snowy New Year’s Eve Day.

We love the Ecomuseum at any time of year, but in the falling snow, it’s absolute magic. Read here for a more in-depth description of the park, which we visit as often as we can!

A few things have changed since we last visited. There’s a new cage for the eagles. The reindeer we saw last year had a new baby. Sven’s antlers aren’t new, but I’ve never seen anything so amazing.

We chatted with one of the employees for a while who explained the new deer would have to be relocated at some point so he and his father, Sven, didn’t fight. There are a pair of antlers attached to a tree stump that Sven can go grapple with if he needs.

eco9Many of the outdoor animals were either away for the winter or in natural hibernation. But we didn’t mind. It was a beautiful walk and there was a lot to see. The kids even got to participate in a scavenger hunt, searching for clues on the signs outside. This is part of the special holiday activities. You still have tomorrow to check them out.
Everyone inside, however was still there. All the familiar faces, like the albino snapping turtle and the big white catfish. Something we’d never seen was a gigantic bullfrog. We read that they can be cannibals. That was news to me too! We especially love this area because it’s laid out so perfectly for the kids to be able to see inside the windows

We got to the museum just as it opened and had the run of the place. Which we like. The animals were calm, and so were my animals (mostly). We got to share lunch with our neighbours then went out one last time to say goodbye to some of our animal friends. The zoo is open every day except Christmas. When one of the employees said it’s because the reindeer were exhausted from flying all around the world the other night, Babe just rolled her eyes. We’ll probably end up there again in the spring, they usually have fun activities planned for March Break and Easter.
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Mar 092015
 

eco3Because we’re both self employed, Papa and I are able to avoid crowds most of the time. We don’t tend to go grocery shopping, for example, on a Saturday morning. We also generally avoid museums when we know there will be crowds. But it was March Break!

We took the kids to see The Butterflies Go Free and to the Ecomuseum, on March Break. Oh boy there were crowds! But in both cases, it was so worth it.
We often go to the Ecomuseum Zoo, and there are always people there, but nothing like this! We knew we were in for it when we had to park at the back of the full lot. Kids came in by the school bus and there was a lineup when we got to the front.
ecoWhile crowds bother me in some situations, I was overjoyed to see this many people supporting such a beautiful organization. As I’ve mentioned before, the Ecomuseum is home to over 115 animal species from Québec.
For the March Break, the museum put on twice daily presentations. On the day we visited, Laura, who is in charge of the reptiles, did an amazing presentation on snakes, in perfect English and French, which was appreciated by the large audience. Laura showed us (and let us touch) a long piece of snakeskin and explained that the fact that the snake had shed in one long piece means he is healthy and his environment is moist enough. Babe didn’t get to hold the snake, and she was a little disappointed, but she got to hold the skin and quickly eco 4touch the big snake’s tail. The guide also fed the snake, but we had taken a water break, and I’m okay with that. The last time we watched a baby bird get eaten to death by ants, Babe was a wee bit traumatized!
We’re all a little wintered out by this point (who isn’t?) so while we visited some of our favourite animals (the Arctic Fox and the Snowy Owl) we were all happy to head in to see the reptiles downstairs!
Before getting back in the car, headed home, we staked out a spot in the busy cafeteria and warmed up with homemade soup (they have a microwave!) Then we went for yet another round in the honeycomb installation. We played eye spy, hide and seek and a lot of crawling in the holes!
eco2We’ll likely be back soon on a weekday morning to enjoy the same freedom and space as the animals at the zoo, but a couple upcoming activities that are going to be a blast: April 4-5, during Easter weekend, there is the Great Easter Egg Hunt and lots of fun stuff for kids. Also, when we were there, we saw ads for some kind of Froggy concerto one night in May. More details on that to come! You can see all the upcoming activities here, including and English storytime for toddlers at the end of March.
The Ecomuseum Zoo is going to give one lucky mamanaturale reading family a pass for one of the days during Easter weekend. Enter the copter below and hope to see you there!

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