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A lot of Montreal’s charm lies in the outdoors. It is a green city, and perfect for outdoor adventure if you are visiting in the summer. But if you visit in the winter, or there is rain in the forecast, it is smart to have an inclement weather plan. The Biodome is perfect for this. It is completely indoors, so it should be near the top of your bad weather destination list.
Even if you are visiting Montreal in beautiful, summer weather you should consider checking out the Biodome. This is especially true if your family has an interest in science and animals. It is impossible to visit without learning something new, and there wasn’t a child present that didn’t have a smile on their face.
The Montreal Biodome contains five ecosystems – tropical forest, Laurentian maple forest, St. Lawrence Marine, the Labrador Coast and Sub-Antarctic Islands. Each ecosystem has been meticulously developed to showcase how you would encounter it if you were visiting it out in the world. The ecosystems are stocked with small animals that make that ecosystem their home.
With the focus on the ecosystem, it makes the learning experience different than what you expect from a zoo trip. The animals are there, but you can truly learn about how they interact with their environment in the wild.
Montreal Biodome vs Biosphere
It might not be confusing in French, but it is in English. The Montreal Biodome is not what you would consider a dome – and the dome that is a very visible part of the Montreal landscape is actually the BioSPHERE. The Biosphere is an environmental museum that has various green exhibits. See? It is massively confusing. To help clear it up, I have this illustration for you :
The Biodome is not visible from far away like the Biosphere. The location is easy to see from afar, however. It is located right underneath the Olympic Stadium.
So now that you are in the right place, what can you expect to find?
The Montreal Biodome Ecosystems
- Tropical Forest – The Biodome’s Tropical Rainforest is modeled after the Amazon rainforest and is its largest ecosystem. An indoor stream cuts through the exhibit and creates a lush valley and a marshland to observe. There are a diverse selection of animals. Among the hundreds of animals in this ecosystem, you can find piranhas, caimans, sloths, anaconda snakes, and a multitude of birds in this section.
- Laurentian Maple Forest – A reproduction of a Quebec forest, this was my favorite exhibit. I love to learn about the ecology of the place I am visiting, and this was the best place to do it within the borders of Montreal. Just like in the rest of Quebec, the temperatures change along with the seasons, and you can see the changes in the vegetation as the year progresses. You follow a mountain stream through a birch/maple forest and view a beaver dam and the changes that they make in the environment. Lots of amphibians and birds inhabit this area, along with otters, beavers, porcupines and lynx.
- St Lawrence Marine Ecosystem – A true underwater observatory, this area allows you to view hundreds of fish within twenty species. Don’t forget to look up! There are birds flying about! This area doesn’t change as much as the maple forest does as the seasons’ change, but you can see subtle differences and feel a slight change in temperature.
- The Labrador Coast – Steep, ice-covered cliffs that contain the cutest species of all birds – the puffin. I know there were other birds hanging out with them, but when puffins are around, I only have eyes for them. The climate stays relatively constant here, despite the time of year.
- The Sub-Antarctic Islands – I’ve got one word for you – PENGUINS. Four different species of penguin (Gentoo, King, Macaroni, and Rockhopper) live in this small ecosystem, and they are fascinating to watch. They interact with each other, swim, jump into the water… all the things you expect from penguins. They also smell pretty awful, which is also to be expected. I could have spent an hour in here, just chilling with the penguins.
Getting to the Montreal Biodome
The easiest way to get to the Biodome is to take the subway. The Viau station is where you want to get off. It is easy to see the area where the Biodome is located because it is directly underneath the very distinctive Olympic Stadium.
Resources : Montreal Biodome Website – this website has detailed information on the plants and animals in the Biodome. A great place to follow up with your kids to learn even more about what you saw during your visit.
I was a guest of the city of Montreal during my visit to the Biodome.