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Winter Wildlife Watching

Photo: Tourism Jasper

Photo: Tourism Jasper

By Afton Aikens

What could be more picturesque than seeing a bighorn sheep with impressive horns against a snowy mountain backdrop? Wildlife add such character to the landscape of the Canadian Rockies. Perhaps you’ll be fortunate enough to spot some this winter!

The Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park is a slower, more scenic alternative to the Trans-Canada Highway between Banff and Lake Louise. Drive this route and you may be rewarded with more than mountain views. Aptly named Moose Meadows is an ideal habitat for these large mammals. Elk are more commonly spotted—watch for them east of Johnston Canyon. If you’re lucky, you might see wolves. Please don’t feed or get close to animals.


Assiniboine Park Zoo Named Best Summer Attraction 2012 by Where Winnipeg

Each summer, regional Where editors announce their picks for Canada’s Best New Summer Attractions.

Assiniboine Park Zoo has completed two new attractions as part of a $120 million expansion plan to be completed in 2014 with a state-of-the-art polar bear exhibit, Journey to Churchill. This year’s makeover phase actualized a South American tropical house of lush, jungle vegetation showcasing species such as Caiman crocodiles, a 2,000-square-foot enclosed butterfly garden with more than 700 winged creatures, a live-action birds-of-flight show, and an educational International Polar Bear Conservation Centre.

“Assiniboine Park Zoo is one of Winnipeg’s most extraordinary places, and has been an integral part of our urban life for decades. Many lasting memories have been formed while kids of all ages have discovered its magic. This makeover will attract people from all over the province and beyond, and keeps this family attraction a great reason to visit Winnipeg,” says Where Winnipeg publisher Laurie Hughes.

“The changes underway are going to transform the Assiniboine Park Zoo into a world-class attraction that  all Manitobans can be proud of,” said Margaret Redmond, President & CEO of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. “We are thrilled that the community is enjoying the new additions so far and I can assure you this is just the beginning.”


Get a Peek at the Toronto Zoo’s Adorable New Addition

Photo by Ken Ardill, Toronto Zoo Volunteer

Can’t make it to Churchill, Manitoba, to see the polar bears in their natural habitat this winter?

Maybe you can mosey over to the Toronto Zoo instead, to see its newest addition—this irresistibly adorable polar bear cub that was rejected by mama bear. (more…)

Hot Attraction: Animals Up Close at Parc Oméga

Wolves are just one of the types animals you can spot on a visit to Parc Oméga.

If you’re willing to drive about an hour and twenty minutes east of Ottawa, you’ll be rewarded with a highly unique experience that brings you face to face with the animal kingdom. Located in the beautiful area of Montebello, Quebec, is Parc Oméga, an 1,800-acre park where wild animals such as bison, deer, wolves, and boar roam free. As you drive along a 10 km circuit, animals will come right up to your car (especially if you hold a carrot out the window!). Available year-round, rain or snow, this outdoor activity is magical for children and adults alike.

Hot Dates: Rites of autumn

The Maritime Fall Fair (October 6 to 10) is a beloved October tradition for many Maritime families. Exhibition Park on Prospect Road hosts live entertainment, competitions, animal displays, a midway and more.

Doctors Recommend Airlines Ban Pets From Cabin

Photo by Lovro Rumiha

Doctors who met at the annual general council of the Canadian Medical Association in St. John’s, Nfld. on Tuesday, want commercial airlines to ban cats and dogs from the cabin. Their concerns come from the risk these pets pose to those with allergies and asthma—beyond sniffling and sneezing, severe allergies can result in anaphylactic shock.

Guide dogs and other service animals would still be an exception, like they are at restaurants, hotels and many other spots where pets are usually asked to stay outside.

The CMA sees no health risks from pets riding in cargo hold, though some pet owners would argue that does create health risks, for their pet.

You can read both sides, the CMA and the response by Canadian airlines, at the Toronto Star.

Where the Wild Things are in Winter

Elk in Winter; image courtesy Jasper Tourism

We often see elk along the Icefields Pkwy just south of Jasper and bighorn sheep along Hwy 16 just east of town. At other roadside venues we’ve spotted coyotes, moose and mountain goats, and on rare occasions cougars, wolves and woodland caribou. Joe Urie of SunDog Tours suggests that the best way to get a glimpse of Jasper wildlife is in the company of an experienced guide. “Many Jasper guides have their own wildlife ‘hot spots’, secret places they keep closely guarded. Guides provide insights on the animals and ecosystems, making sightings more than just a photo opportunity,” he says.—Alison Baird