The Biodôme of Montreal is one of the must-see you need to have in your list. It’s not a zoo… rather, it is a living museum reproducing the four American ecosystems: the humid tropical forest, the Laurentian forest, the Saint-Laurent Gulf and the two Poles. In its four corresponding pavilions, the Biodôme hosts thousands of animal and vegetable species. And, in your trip through the ecosystems, you will be immersed in their incredible nature. It is a fascinating experience that we highly recommend to anybody visiting Montreal.
The Biodôme is located in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve quarter, close to the Olympic Stadium (aka ‘the Big O’) in the East of the Island. The building occupies the space that was once a velodrome built for the Olympic games of 1976. The director of the Botanic Garden of Montreal, Pierre Bourque, had then the idea of converting the velodrome into the Biodôme.
Next to the Biodôme are also the “Rio Tinto Alcan” planetarium, the Botanic Garden of Montreal and the Insectarium, making together the so called “Espace pour la vie” (a space for life).
Jeff and I never visit zoos. We don’t like the idea of animals kept in captivity. However, the Biodôme is like a natural reserve in the city. It’s so vast that walking through the different ecosystem pavilions you have the impression of being outdoors in the nature. It feels like man is just a visitor. More than that, the Biodôme participates in many programs for the preservation of natural species and works actively for the reintroduction in nature of protected species. If you are a resident of Quebec, the entrance is 15CA$.
As you enter the tropical forest, the change in temperature and humidity is dramatic. You are immersed in giant trees and, if you pay attention, you will see lots of exotic animals who lives undisturbed in their habitat.
Everything changes when you enter the maple forest: the air becomes fresh and crispy, and the tree population is so thick that it feels like walking through a real forest. It’s a quiet area where animals hide and are not easily spotted.
One of the most exciting pavilions of the Biodôme, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence is composed by an underwater environment and on-land spaces. The underwater walk is thrilling and enchanting. The creatures of the sea and the Saint Lawrence river swim in a huge reservoir that you can also observe from above, in a context that reproduces the high cliffs of the original area.
Finally, the pavilion of the sub-polar regions host cute puffins and playful penguins, offering amusement for children in particular.
Our visit at the Biodôme lasted a couple of hours, and we very much enjoyed the time we spent there.