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Tour through British Columbia

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Jonas Livet, 17 Mar 2019.

  1. Jonas Livet

    Jonas Livet Well-Known Member

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    Hello everyone,

    As mentioned earlier in my thread Zootour through Washington and Oregon states I will be travelling to British Columbia for eight days end of April, flying in on the 23rd in the late evening from Seattle and flying out the 1st of May at 5:30pm from Vancouver Airport.

    I have collected various information about the places I wish or could visit but I find some difficulty making up an itinerary. I am sure your suggestions and ideas would be definetely very helpful!

    My initial idea was to tour the Vancouver region and the Vancouver Island... but when I saw that the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops has actually a light Kermode bear I am extremely keen to add it to my plan! What do you think? Is this animal still there? Worth all the way from Vancouver, and back?!

    Which companies would you advise to go for whale watching? The Whale Centre Tofino and Prince of Whales Whale Watching seem both to have quite good reviews... but there are many other apparently too! Any suggestion? Comment on this? From Vancouver? From Victoria?

    Where could I see wildlife in the wild around Vancouver or on Vancouver island? Any chance to spot Vancouver Island marmots in the wild? Around Mount Washington? What about Steller sea lions? Sea otters?

    Which is the best way to get from Vancouver to Vancouver Island (taking into account I am planning to take a rental car)? Where to stay on Vancouver Island? What to visit?

    Here are some kind of a list of places I would consider visiting:

    Greater Vancouver Zoo: half-day visit? to be combined with Bloedel and/or Beaty Museum?
    Bloedel Conservatory
    VanDusen Botanical Garden
    : worth seeing in April?
    Beaty Biodiversity Museum: worth seeing?
    Vancouver Aquarium: half-day?
    Stanley Park: worth seeing apart from the remains of Stanley Park Zoo?
    Stanley Park Zoo †
    Haglund Vancouver Aquarium †
    Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife
    : I am not sure the bears will be actually much awaked by the end of April and I am not sure if it is actually worth the effort to visit? I have the feeling it would take at least half-day to get up, see the bears, and get down again... What do you think?
    Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea: one hour visit?
    Victoria Butterfly Gardens: one hour visit?
    Victoria Bug Zoo: one hour visit?
    Beacon Hill Children’s Farm
    Beacon Hill Park Zoo †
    : any remains left?
    Butterfly World Coombs
    North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre
    Ucluelet Aquarium
    : it seems quite interesting... but it is quite out of the itinerary?

    Trying to fit in my schedule, here it is what it gives... but I am really not convinced yet!

    Option I
    24th April: Greater Vancouver Zoo + Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife
    25th April: Vancouver Aquarium + Stanley Park Zoo † + Stanley Park Children's Farmyard † + Haglund Vancouver Aquarium †
    26th April: Drive to Vancouver Island + Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea + Victoria Butterfly Gardens
    27th April: Whale Watching from Victoria + Victoria Bug Zoo + Beacon Hill Children’s Farm
    28th April: Butterfly World Coombs + North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre + Ucluelet Aquarium
    29th April: Whale Watching from Tofino
    30th April: Wildlife around Mount Washington
    31st April: Drive from Vancouver Island to Vancouver
    1st May: Bloedel Conservatory + VanDusen Botanical Garden or Beaty Biodiversity Museum

    Option II
    24th April: Greater Vancouver Zoo + Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife
    25th April: Vancouver Aquarium + Stanley Park Zoo † + Stanley Park Children's Farmyard † + Haglund Vancouver Aquarium †
    26th April: Drive to Vancouver Island + Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea + Victoria Butterfly Gardens
    27th April: Whale Watching from Victoria + Victoria Bug Zoo + Beacon Hill Children’s Farm
    28th April: Butterfly World Coombs + North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre
    29th April: Wildlife around Mount Washington
    30th April: Drive from Vancouver Island to Kamloops
    31st April: BC Wildlife Park + drive back to Vancouver
    1st May: Bloedel Conservatory + VanDusen Botanical Garden or Beaty Biodiversity Museum

    I remember an article in Zoo Grapevine about Vancouver Island from a couple of years ago. Any idea wich issue? I can get hold of it!

    Thanks in advance, I am looking forward to hearing from you all.

    Jonas
     
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  2. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    This was in the Winter 2015/16 issue (with a Knob-scaled Lizard on the cover). The piece was written by Scott Richardson, and covered the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre, Victoria Butterfly Gardens and Victoria Bug Zoo. I am sure its author may add more to this thread, soon!
     
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  3. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    Victoria International Airport is the most reliable spot in North America to find Alauda arvensis.
     
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  4. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    As you may or may not know, @snowleopard lives in British Columbia (near the Washington border). He can tell you EVERYTHING you need to know about this itinerary. As far as I know, the spirit bear (white kermode) is still at the park. There are also tours to see them in the wild, but they are pricey and you cannot access the area without a guide.
     
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  5. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Beacon Hill Children's Farm is mainly goats and if you are wanting to count it as a 'zoo' then I could name probably a dozen more places just in British Columbia with goats, alpacas, pigs, cows, chickens, sheep, turkeys, maybe a couple of emus, etc. Many farms are in the agriculturally rich Fraser Valley and I would certainly not classify any of them as proper 'zoos'...and I have a fairly loose interpretation of what a zoo is and I draw the line at menageries filled up with domestic animals. There are family-owned petting zoos everywhere and I never visit any of them as they are truly not zoos. You'd be better off visiting the Royal B.C. Museum in downtown Victoria; it's an excellent institution.

    Grouse Mountain Refuge has no wolves these days, the bird-of-prey show usually doesn't run until the summer and the two bears will be sleeping. Definitely skip this place, plus it is around $50 Canadian to take the gondola up and it's one of the most expensive things to do in B.C.

    Bloedel Conservatory used to have tamarins/marmosets 30 years ago but now just has a small but nice selection of birds. It's worth 30-45 minutes of your time and is situated in scenic Queen Elizabeth Park.

    If you can find your copy of Zoo Grapevine then you'll see my published article about a trio of Vancouver Island based zoos and they are all small and easy to tour in an hour each.

    As for Whale Watching, I went many years ago and so I don't know any modern, reputable companies but there are tons to choose from. I'd recommend looking up online reviews before booking with an establishment.

    Greater Vancouver Zoo is a place that is 20 minutes from my house but I've only visited ONCE in the past 8 years! The facility is a for-profit, privately-owned zoo with lots of wood and wire cages and the whole thing can be seen in 2 hours. You'd have to find something else in Vancouver to combine it with but there are some large exhibits at GVZoo for species like Common Hippo and Grizzly Bear that are excellent. The zoo is probably an hour from downtown Vancouver and so it's a long way out from where you will be based.

    Vancouver Aquarium is probably one of the Top 10 aquariums in North America and worth at least 3 hours of your time. The old Stanley Park Zoo was torn down 25 years ago but there are a couple of old Polar Bear grottoes still intact and worth seeing from a historical perspective. I've uploaded photos into the ZooChat gallery (under Vancouver Aquarium) in the past and those two old grottoes are right next to the aquarium and can be toured in less than 10 minutes. The Stanley Park Children's Farmyard closed down about 8 years ago and I don't think that there is anything left to prove that it even existed.

    Capilano Suspension Bridge is a famous Vancouver-area attraction that is only a 15-minute drive from the Vancouver Aquarium. You could visit the aquarium in the morning, have lunch, drive a short distance over the famous Lion's Gate Bridge and then spend the afternoon at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It's expensive but includes the 1889 bridge (which is spectacular), the Treetrops Adventure and Cliff Walk...well worth seeing and a great little hiking area is nearby. It is one of the most famous attractions in the Province of B.C. and a must-see.

    BC Wildlife Park does indeed have a Spirit Bear (Kermode) in an exhibit that is 2.7 acres in size, plus American Black Bears, Grizzly Bears and other native wildlife. However, it is an almost 4 hour drive from Vancouver and really far out of your way...plus the highway might still be covered in a foot of snow and so this zoo might not be an option for you unless traffic conditions are ideal because it is in the interior of British Columbia.
     
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  6. Jonas Livet

    Jonas Livet Well-Known Member

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    Thanks a lot to everyone for all these comments and suggestions. I will try to figure out an itinerary and I will come back to you for further advices.

    All the best,

    Jonas
     
  7. Jonas Livet

    Jonas Livet Well-Known Member

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    I am also looking here to find some maps from the institutions I am planning to visit. The situation seems easier to understand than in Washington and Oregon (see Zootour through Washington and Oregon states) but it would be great to add to what I have found already.

    Vancouver Aquarium: I have some maps from the 1980s and the 1990s but I am sure I am missing various that could help to understand the development over the decades.

    Stanley Park Zoo † in Vancouver: is there any map of the old zoo that closed in 1997?

    Greater Vancouver Zoo and BC Wildlife Park: I have only current maps and wish I could find some older ones. Both institutions opened quite a long time ago and I am sure there should be old maps around. Any idea?

    Thanks a lot in advance,

    Jonas
     
  8. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

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    I saw the Stanley Park Zoo in 1989. My memory of it is that the entire zoo consisted of the polar bear grottoes, a bizarre hybrid penguin-monkey exhibit, and a decrepit "tropical house" which was basically a shed with a Wolf's guenon cage and a few terrariums for ball python and a couple of other herp species. I wouldn't be surprised if no map existed, as the whole complex existed on about an acre (if that) outside of the Vancouver Aquarium.
     
    Last edited: 24 Mar 2019
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  9. Yi Qi

    Yi Qi Well-Known Member

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    Minor correction: the monkeys were in with the seals rather then the penguins.
     
  10. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

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    I remember there were penguins too. Maybe they were in a separate exhibit.
     
  11. Jonas Livet

    Jonas Livet Well-Known Member

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    Here is the more or less finalized program:

    24th April: Vancouver Aquarium + Stanley Park
    25th April: Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife + Beaty Biodiversity Museum + Bloedel Conservatory (or VanDusen Botanical Garden or Museum of Vancouver or Capilano Suspension Bridge ?!)
    26th April: Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea + Victoria Butterfly Gardens + Victoria Bug Zoo + Beacon Hill Park
    27th April: Prince of Whales Whale Watching + MacMillan Provincial Park
    28th April: Pacific Rim National Park + The Whale Centre Tofino
    29th April: Ucluelet Aquarium + Comox
    30th April: Comox + Butterfly World Coombs + North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre
    1st May: Greater Vancouver Zoo + late flight back from Vancouver YVR

    I am really looking forward!

    Jonas