Finding Biodiversity in the Concrete Jungle


Learning about the scheduled trip to the Biodome of Montréal, I was beside myself with excitement. Living in a city was something that was very foreign to me; and the language barrier only added to that. I grew up in a town of just under 14,000 people, and my backyard was a forest and a field and a marsh all in one.

Nature is a huge part of my lifestyle and my comfort zone, and so signing my life away to a concrete jungle was something that intimidated me for a long time. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in facing these new adventures, and other students will agree that the Biodome is just one answer to all of those worries.

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I have been to a fair amount of zoos in my lifetime, but never was I more happy to see exotic wildlife than I was when my Global Environmental Earth Science class and I entered the building. On a whole other note, I had been curious up to this point about what the city was using the grandiose Olympic Stadium for, and I have to admit I was thoroughly surprised when I saw it standing there when we exited the metro. To put a zoo inside was a genius solution.

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As we entered the structure from the snowy outdoors, we were met with the heat and humidity of a tropical rainforest. We all shed out coats and gloves immediately, forgetting almost instantly the winter from which we had come. All around us were flora we, or at least I, had never seen before. Trees of incredible heights that further encouraged the illusion of our teleportation to a warmer climate. This atmosphere was different from every other zoo I had been to before. There was a path we had to stay on, but apart from that, the animals were all around us. There were no apparent dividers separating the animals from each other (apart from thick brush) which made the experience all the more beautiful.

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The four ecosystems we explored were reproductions of a Tropical Rainforest, the Laurentian Maple Forest, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Sub-Polar Region featuring the Labrador Coast and the Sub-Antarctic Islands. Each of them was like the first: very open, tons of animal and plant life, and very convincing temperature-wise. The variety of wildlife was exciting and wonderfully vast. From capybaras to crocodiles, parrots to penguins, the Biodome exhibits animals of all shapes, sizes and species. The transitions between each ecosystem are abrupt and kept me eagerly looking forward to each new location and the creatures it would contain.

The trip took us only six or seven metro stops from our residence hall, and was well worth the short journey in the cold. Montréal may have its parks, but in the biting cold of a very long winter, the place I’ve found to be a sanctuary for nature lovers like myself is in the Biodome. My cravings for biodiversity and warmth were satisfied, and I know that I’ll surely return again to get that same fix sometime again.

– Meghan Willis, Creative Media Major, Spring 2015

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