The Biodome in Montreal is an amazing "inside Zoo". Situated a few yards walk from the metro and costing only $10 entrance fee it's well worth a visit. However you have to time your visit well! When we went we unfortunately hit mid-morning - after morning feed and too early for afternoon feed so a lot of the animals were fast asleep! The best times to go apparently are early morning and late afternoon to catch all the animals at feeding time. The Biodome contains animals, plants and sealife from many regions of the world all housed in different zones to reflect their natural climate and habitat. For example there is a tropical zone with fancy birds and an artic zone with penguins. Among the many animals to be seen are tamarind monkeys, macaws, penguines, puffins, sharks, many types of fish, ducks, procupine, beavers, alligators, otters and lynx - all housed separately of course! We were fascinated by the porcupines asleep up a tree! And coming face to face with dogfish and small sharks is pretty amazing! Unfortunately during our visit the lynx and otters were fast asleep but we could still see them dozing happily. The Biodome also houses other natural world artefacts and has a gift shop and a coffee shop. Photography is allowed within the Biodome but flash cameras are not so you may find your pictures come out very dark, as mine did, as the place is only lit according to the natural habitat and time of day. If you happen to be in the area, go along - it's well worth it!
The Biodome in Montreal is a rather interesting place to say the least! The building was originally built as a velodrome for the 1976 Olympic games but, due to lack of interest, it was decided to change it into more of a tourist attraction with something for everyone. It has been open since 1992 and has had over 5 million visitors. The velodrome is now a museum of the environment and shows no sign of its previous use. A museum is perhaps not the correct word for this place - an open safari park may describe it better! The museum is divided into four parts - the tropical forest, the Laurentian forest, the marine world replicating the estuary and gulf and the Arctic and Antarctic. In each section they have plants and animals indigenous to that habitat. The Biodome is self-guiding and there are information panels and guides in each area to answer any questions. As you walk through each zone the effect is quite amazing. Because you are actually walking through the plants and animals (albeit on a wooden walkway) you can feel the climates. The rainforest was very humid and I really don't like high humidity whereas the forest was more my climate with hot dry air. Two highlights of the rainforest section was walking behind a large waterfall and the size of the huge trees - very impressive as it's hard to believe that you are indoors. There is a multitude of animals in the park. In the first two areas I saw tropical birds, monkeys, parrots, golden lions, tamarinds, piranhas, an anaconda, bats and turtles. The sloths were hiding when we were there! The first part of the marine area consisted of large fish tanks with cod, salmon and halibut represented - all of which are important fish in Canadas fishing industry. The second part of the marine area concentrated on the seabirds. They flew freely above your head so you had to watch out for low flying missiles if you know what I mean! Definitely not a place for anyone with a
bird phobia! The polar world was the last area and possibly a bit of an anti-climax after the rainforest and the forest. It consisted of a lot of different penguin species and razorbills, which were all behind glass. I presume this was to keep the cold in! The Biodome is not just a museum. It also provides education facilities by catering for parties of school children, holding temporary exhibitions, educational activities, day camps and publications. Conservation is obviously a major part as the Biodome holds thousands of plants and animals. The Biodome has the now common principals of "respecting a strict code of ethics" and "participating in national and international programs to promote the reproduction of endangered species and safeguard fragile natural habitats". Research is also carried out in the Biodome. The Biodome basically acts as a large laboratory and there is a large research team based there. I would highly recommend a visit to the Biodome. It's much better than a park or a zoo as you feel you are actually in the animals' environment. I also think it's a bit kinder to the animas than a zoo as at least they are surrounded by natural vegetation and have plenty of room to rove around. Children will love this place as they can get so close to the animals. You can take photos as long as you don't use a flash and I took lots. This was definitely one of the highlights of my holiday. PS check out their very good website as well!