Crocodiles, Birds, and Lazy Raccoons: The Montreal Biodome

By Brennan Segarra

On January 22nd, our Global Environmental Earth Science class took our first lab trip to Montreal’s Biodome. After a class of reviewing all the core details of how ecosystems function, it was certainly enjoyable to get a close-up look at a few different examples. The Biodome takes a significant effort in not just housing various animal and plant species but to dress them all together to fit the types of biomes that these species would normally live in. While not an in-depth lesson of how exactly these particular examples of ecosystems work, there was more than enough to gaze upon and speculate. Provided we had class less than an hour beforehand, thoughts of biotic and abiotic factors along with the connections of how each food chain strung together I’m sure were at least floating around in each of our minds.

The first biome entered was that of a wet jungle, lots of soaked browns and greens, with a few ditches under us that streams of water flow through. The first of which I looked down and took note of a lazing Capybara. A bit forward and over a high fence were a few employees playing with two brightly coloured parrots. We eventually wandering through a cavernous opening embedded with tanks of all kinds of fish and aquatic life, leading to an actual cave where small bats were freely flying on the other side of a transparent wall. A few small monkeys and crocodiles later, we transitioned to the next biome, which was more of a thinly wooded forest with a wide river cutting through and  featuring a huge beaver damn. This area was mostly populated with small ducks, some lazy spectator raccoons, sleeping beavers on a camera screen in their dam, and eventually a very awake and stalking bobcat prowling around his area.

The next major biome was a total aquatic scene. One huge body of water than we could gaze into through glass housing a menagerie of underwater life. There were schools of tiny feeding fish, large predatory fish, and gliding manta rays. Eventually venturing to the top of the biome, we found a landscape of birds sitting on the water and rocks, occasionally diving down to grab a snack. Of course the last stop on our visit was the usual finale to most zoo environments, the ever-loved penguins. Glassed off sections of ice and snow surrounding their swimming pool, getting as artic as it got on our trip to the Biodome.

Personally, I believe the most interesting fact I pondered while sifting through these environmental recreations was how, despite the diversity, these living things all survive from the same sources of consumption. Yet, all are so unique and considerately developed based on their natural homes. Being a 3rd year college student, it’s easy to assume I have learned a lot about these creatures, their biomes, and ecology systems since high school. Though it’s certainly enjoyable to receive a mental refreshing just before experiencing them firsthand. That being said, with all the academic consideration I had for the science on the trip, I still couldn’t help that my favorite part of the trip was a fat, lazily perched raccoon we found.