A magnificent way to see and learn about Quebec wildlife

The Zavatchan family from Connellsville, Penn., enjoying some of the plentiful natural shade during their recent visit to the Ecomuseum Zoo in Saints-Anne-de-Bellevue.

Sunny days may be the ideal when you’re on vacation but there are still plenty of things to do if clouds get in the way. The Ecomuseum Zoo in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is a magnificent way to see and learn all about 115 species of Quebec wildlife in an entertaining and informative visit that you can comfortably pack into a few hours.

And it’s an excellent pick for an outing on an overcast day, when many of the animals will be more likely to display themselves front and centre while roaming their familiar surroundings rather than seeking shade when the hot summer sun beats down on them. “It’s not a downpour activity day, but those gray days when you’re wondering, ‘What are we going to do?’ absolutely, those are the best days,” Ecomuseum Zoo spokesperson Caroline Bourque said.

John Zavatchan, 40, of Connellsville, Penn., visited with his wife and three children on a recent weekday afternoon when the sun was beating down and everyone, not only the animals, appreciated a little shade. “It’s always nice when you go somewhere to see they invest your fees back into the place,” Zavatchan said about a patio being built near the main entrance.

The Zavatchans decided to visit the Ecomuseum after seeing a promotional brochure during their Canadian vacation. They suggested Montrealers who have not visited are missing out on a hidden gem at home.

“I recommend to anybody — we did this in Pittsburgh one year— do a staycation!” Zavatchan said. “Read up on the tourist attractions in your area and find out what’s there.”

Alecia Montroy and Robert Karam were celebrating their respective birthdays with their grownup daughters, Natasha, Megan and Corrina.

“Being outdoors on a hot day, it’s really fun,” Karam said. “Out of the city, the dust, the orange cones. When they were younger we used to do all the zoos.”

Montroy took in the sights from a wheelchair, which is accessible for most of the zoo, though not the “From Light to Dark” indoor exhibit. She noted that what sets the Ecomuseum apart from the other zoos is that all of its animals are indigenous to Quebec.

Rain or shine, you’ll be able to see and learn about an incredible assortment of Quebec animals such as the arctic fox, black bear, Canada goose, great-horned owl, lynx, mallard, milk snake, red-tailed hawk, river otter, snowy owl, spotted turtle, wild turkey and woodland caribou, to name but a few.

“Our mission is centered around what lives here in Quebec, who are our neighbours, who shares the environment with us,” said Bourque. “So what we want to do, if you want to encourage people to protect what’s around us, you have to understand what’s around us. So we all love giraffes and rhinoceroses as well, they’re really cool, but Quebec wildlife is just as exciting and that’s something that is important to convey.”

The Ecomuseum Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day but Christmas.

Admission, which closes at 4 p.m., is $17.25 for adults ages 16-64, $14 for seniors 65 and over, $10 for children aged 3-15, and free for children under 3. Parking is free. Guide dogs and other assistance animals are not permitted, though arrangements can be made for a guided tour at no extra cost with at least 24 hours advance notice. For more call 514 457-9449, email info@ecomuseum.ca, or visit https://www.zooecomuseum.ca/en

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