In 1965, John Moelaert envisioned a wildlife attraction that would interest residents and draw visitors to Kamloops. On August 16, 1966, the BC Wildlife Park was opened to the public. From the beginning, BC Wildlife Park has been a leader in the conservation of wild ecosystems. Their mission is to preserve biodiversity through education, research, captive breeding and rehabilitation programs.
When I visited the BC Wildlife Park, it had six orphaned fawns in the Rescue and Rehabilitation Program. I peered through the view hole to observe the adorable fawns. Human contact is minimized so it would be much easier to release them back into the wild once the fawns are big enough.
My favorite moment was visiting the lemurs from Madagascar. These creatures looked like they came right out of the animation movie. Zaboo and Astro were friendly, playful and camera savvy, as they were constantly looking right into the lens of the camera. They have a long ringed-tail and a small face with mesmerizing dark eye patches. They were soft and very affectionate as they sat comfortably on my knee. It was meal time for these vegetarians, so we fed them fruits and vegetable biscuits.
I then got up close to a huge porcupine named Quilla. She resembled a beaver with long quills all over her body. She too was a vegetarian. I learned that porcupines have 3 outer layers: the quills, the undercoat and lastly the grassy hair. The bushy undercoat makes the porcupine look big.
Next, we stopped to see the birds of prey. I had the chance to see the fascinating vulture up close. Because the vulture likes to eat carcasses, his bald head allows him to reach into carcasses without getting his head and feathers dirty. Surprisingly, these birds like to keep clean, so they will pee on their feet to not only cool off, but also to remove debris. I was thoroughly impressed with the bird trainer, Isa, who did a fantastic job in presenting the birds and training them. Isa gently placed a small burrowing owl, about the size of a pop can, on my gloved hand. Burrowing owls are very hard to spot in the wild, so it is a rare opportunity for visitors to see them here. To increase the population of the burrowing owls, the park breeds and releases approximately 100 of them each year from their facility.
BC Wildlife Park’s philosophy is “connecting people to BC’s wildlife and wild places in order to encourage a sustainable society within a healthy natural environment.” After spending a day in the park, I have a new sense of appreciation for BC’s wildlife. The park creates a positive connection to wildlife and emphasizes the importance of individual responsibility. This is a great place to learn about animals and to introduce conservation to everyone.