With more than 200 breeds of animals and 400 plant species throughout five ecosystems, visitors to Montreal’s Biodome can connect with nature and get up close with a diverse collection of furry and feathery friends. From the enchanting penguins (my favourites) to the hard-working beavers and the mesmerizing jellyfish; a trip through the various habitats is an engaging and educational outing for the whole family.
After being closed for more than two years due to renovations, and then again because of the pandemic, visitors can now take part in immersive educational experiences as they tour the updated ecosystems. The former home to track cycling and judo events for the 1976 Olympic Games has been renovated into a modern space encompassing new hands-on exhibits.
Spend some time exploring La preuve par l’image, which showcases a series of photographs that illustrate scientific research from a wide variety of fields that reveal our incredibly complex world. Inspire young environmentalists with the exhibition It’s Time to Act, where ordinary people, groups, businesses, and governments are shown doing vital work to care for and protect the environment.
And for a behind-the-scenes look at the work involved in keeping the animals and plants happy and healthy, travel up the grand stairs that pass the treetops to the Mezzanine for a visit to the interactive Bio-Machine exhibition, where you can look through X-rays, play games, and watch videos at 23 stations.
On a recent visit, we enjoyed the chilly walk as we travelled through the ice tunnel of the sub-Polar Region and used the mobile app to learn more about the animals and their environments. Flipping the usual view upside down, we observed swimming ducks from below the water, and both my boys were entranced by the massive sturgeon as they glided past the portholes and the huge viewing window.
During this trip, not only did we get to see the usual scenes and routes, but we were able to head behind the water and walls for a special tour with Les Amis du Biodome. A visit to the veterinarian’s offices revealed the intense work that goes into keeping all of the different species in tip-top shape, and we carefully measured and poured nuts and pellets while preparing the parrots’ morning meals. What a neat way to learn even more about the space and all of the animals who live there.
Save with a membership
If your little ones are as entranced as mine were and you’re already planning your next outing before finishing the first one, you can save on future visits and open up a whole host of activities and benefits by becoming a member of Les Amis du Biodome. The non-profit partner has a mission to share ecological and environmental knowledge to its members and the general public, and presents and develop year-round activities.
A yearly membership subscription includes access to the Biodome, exclusive activities, free use of the lockers at the Biodome and the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, a 15 per cent discount at restaurants and boutiques at all Espace pour la vie sites, and discounts on day camps.
Activities that families have enjoyed included outings such as pumpkin decorating or spend a night at the Biodome complete with a backstage evening tour, snack and breakfast. Conferences and lectures will further your animal knowledge, and kids can participate in day camps where young nature lovers participate in science-related activities and games. The cost is $84 for a family of five people or $45 per adult and $22.50 for those 5-17.
The Biodome is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors must reserve online and book a set time, they can then explore at their own pace.
Note that the number of visitors permitted has been reduced because of COVID-19. Visitors must respect a distance of one metre from people who aren’t part of your “social bubble” and masks are mandatory indoors for people aged 10 and over and are strongly recommended for children under 10. See all health measures at espacepourlavie.ca/en/special-measures
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