I love the travelling nature exhibits that the Royal Botanical Gardens Burlington, Ontario, Canada puts on every winter. They are something that I enjoy visiting both on my own with my 70-something year old Mom and with my grade and middle school nieces and nephews.
Wildlife Rescue Exhibit at RBG Canada
This winter’s exhibit, Wildlife Rescue, is my favourite yet. I love everything about it! It is interesting and educational, teaching me new things and reminding me of things I have learned in the past. It is hands-on and interactive. It is whimsical and imaginative. It features local animals, as well as animals from around the world. It involves guest speakers and visiting wildlife from around Ontario. It explores environmental stewardship. And it was created here in Ontario by Science North! Most of all though, it made me feel nostalgic for my days working as a biologist and naturalist – both of which began in my teens working at the Royal Botanical Gardens.
Wildlife Rescue Exhibit Gallery
As my niece and I entered the main exhibit gallery, we learned about the many endangered species around the world, including some new-to me things about endangered species here in Canada. Did you know that the Burrowing Owl uses the burrows of other animals, and that as those animals are impacted by agriculture, this in turn impacts the Burrowing Owl? The exhibit itself taught us a number of things that biologists are doing to learn about and help wildlife around the globe.
Flying with the Cranes
Shortly after entering the exhibition gallery we were experiencing one of the more exhilarating aspects of an ornithologist’s (bird biologists) job, flying alongside cranes in their migration, learning more about the birds and what ornithologists learn from them by joining them in flight.
Feeding Baby Raptors
From there we learned how raptor rehabilitator’s feed orphaned raptor chicks, while preventing them from imprinting on humans.
I reflected on how our highways often run through wetlands, presenting hazards for wetland creatures like turtles, as I enjoyed the whimsy of my niece pretending to be a turtle at the Turtle Crossing.
Saving Injured Wildlife
We tried our hands at identifying the ailments of injured wildlife and helping them to recover from their injuries.
I smiled as we made an attempt at advising on a panda breeding program, to be rewarded by learning that our advice was what experts in the field would give. Seems that empathy, compassion, and thoughtful choices, are now being taken into account, verses the drive to control or think ourselves as superior to other living creatures, that bothered me about some teaching and working biologists in the late 1990s.
Upper Gallery Wildlife Rescue Exhibits
Don’t forget to explore the balcony area too, where you learn about gorillas from Jane Goodall, have fun helping to rehabilitate elephants, learn to uncover the mystery scenes left in the snow and mud by animal tracks, and follow the lifecycle of a monarch butterfly.
Visiting Wildlife Education Organizations
While I very much enjoyed the gallery and exhibit, my favourite part of the RBG’s Wildlife Rescue Exhibition are the visiting guest speakers and wildlife organizations from throughout Ontario. The day we visited these were the Toronto Zoo and Speaking of Wildlife.
Kat Lucas, Aqua-Links Program Assistant at the Toronto Zoo gave an all ages talk on Bringing Back the Atlantic Salmon to the Great Lakes. While I am familiar with salmon lifecycles and with pollution in the Great Lakes, I had no idea that Atlantic Salmon were a native species to the Great Lakes. I also learned of other native species to the Great Lakes that I was unaware of, like the freshwater American eel and native freshwater mussels. I will likely return to catch future guest lectures during the run of the exhibition.
Upcoming lectures include:
- Saturday February 1 – ‘Introducing iNaturalist‘ with Danielle Barrett, Resource Interpreter at the Royal Botanical Gardens
- Sunday February 2 – ‘Making Cootes a Paradise Again‘ with Jen Bowman, Aquatic Ecologist at the Royal Botanical Gardens
- Saturday February 8 – ‘The Power of your Pictures‘ with Jessica Stillman, School Outreach Coordinator at Bronte Creek Provincial Park
- Sunday February 9 – ‘Urban Birds: How are they doing and what can you do?‘ with Andrés Jiménez, Urban Program Coordinator at Bird Studies Canada
- Saturday February 15 – ‘Do you hear what I hear?‘ with Rob Porter, Hamilton Naturalists’ Club & Host/creator of “Songbirding” Podcast
- Sunday February 16 – ‘Keeping Pets and Wildlife Safe: Animal Guardians Unite!‘ with Felicia Radassao, Ecological Assistant at the Royal Botanical Gardens
- Saturday February 22 – ‘ Wildlife Preservation Canada’s Reptile and Amphibian Initiative‘ with Hannah McCurdy-Adams, Reptile and Amphibian Program Development Coordinator at Wildlife Preservation Canada
- Sunday February 23 – ‘Turtle-y Awesome!‘ with Sarah Richer, Species at Risk (SAR) Biologist at the Royal Botanical Gardens
Meet the Creature
Speaking of Wildlife cares for local wildlife that cannot be rehabilitated back into the wilds. These animals live with them and travel with them, helping to educate people throughout the province about Ontario wildlife. My niece and I were fortunate to meet a Rock Dove name Flint, a Fox Snake named Mimic, and a Skunk named Chanel, along with their human handler Krystal Hewitt of Speaking of Wildlife.
On a subsequent visit, my nephew, niece, and I met a number of other interesting wildlife residents from Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue, include a groundhog, fox, rabbit, possum, skunk, and porcupine.
Over the coming weeks, these are the wildlife education organizations that will be visiting the RBG with different wildlife from around Ontario:
- Speaking of Wildlife – January 18, 19, February 15 to 17, March 7, 8, 28, 29, April 4, 5
- Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo – January 24, 31, February 14, March 6, April 10, 13
- Wild Ontario – January 25, 26, February 29, March 1, 20 to 22, April 11, 12
- Sciensational Sssnakes!! – February 1, 2, March 16 to 19
- Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue – February 8, 9
- Mountsberg Raptor Centre – February 22, 23, March 14, 15
Have you visited the Wildlife Rescue Exhibit?
If you’ve had the chance to visit the Wildlife Rescue Exhibit at the RBG Canada, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. What was your favourite part? Which animals did you meet? Did you learn something new? Which wildlife education organization was at the RBG when you visited?