2017: our Executive Director's year in review

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Happy New Year to you, zoo friends,

The heart of the Ecomuseum Zoo beats at the rhythm of its mission. And 2017 was again a year filled with emotions of all kinds as our devotion to the animals in our care follows a path of never-ending growth. This determination to protect wildlife and its habitats through our conservation fieldwork, and this enthusiasm to reach, to raise awareness and to education of the young and not so young is boundless.

For myself and on behalf of the entire zoo team, its board of directors, the many volunteers we work with and of course the animals in our care, we thank you, friends of the zoo, for your continuous support. Thank you for speaking with us about our extraordinary wildlife, thank you for instilling with us, in our young leaders of tomorrow, the understanding and values of respect for the environment and thank you most of all for believing in the unique  way in which we make this all happen. Thank you for conveying our message.

It’s a message that’s reaching more and more people, as evidenced by the fact we’ve again last year, for the 4th year in a row, shattered the historic attendance level set in the previous period. It is thus that we welcomed in 2017 just shy of 145,000 guests, an essential driving force for the success, the scope and the impact of our activities.

These animals in our care have much to teach us, both about them and about ourselves, and it is imperative that we listen. It is why we are so dedicated to not only ensuring their well-being, but also to putting in place the best possible conditions, in a warm and cozy setting, to accompany each of our guests as they share unforgettable moments with wildlife

Working alongside these animals, collaborating with them and observing the impact they have on people day after day encourages us to remain steadfast in the pursuit of our objectives. I would like to share with you some of the notable achievements that took form at the Ecomuseum Zoo in 2017.

As we endeavor for a strong and growing impact, it is once again close to 19,000 children that were reached in 2017 through the zoo’s formal environmental education program, and another 7,000 that our zoologists met in schools and in the community while traveling more than 6,932 kilometers throughout the region. Perpetually striving to improve our programs and methods of raising awareness through education, the complete redesign of one of our educational activities was celebrated nationally in 2017 when the prestigious Eleanore Oakes Award was bestowed upon the zoo by CAZA (Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums). The Nature Camp program is a weeklong immersive activity that actively introduces youth to different notions of ecological equilibrium, to wildlife and habitat conservation fieldwork, and to animal welfare in all its forms. All in an interactive, captivating and memorable manner.

Our biologists, will have supported and impressive total of nineteen (19) separate wildlife conservation projects across the province, some of them spanning several years. Quite varied in nature, some of these projects touched upon habitat management and improvement for endangered species like the Map Turtle, the Wood Turtle and the Brown Snake. Others include species surveys aimed at gaining a better understanding of needs and habitat preservation as was the case for studies of the Western Chorus Frog, the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee and the Ginseng plant. And still others addressed the study of Snake fungal diseases, deadly infections caused by fungi that threaten more and more species in the wild. These are just a few examples of the zoo’s efforts to conserve Québec’s wildlife and its habitats.

New developments on site were again noticed at the zoo in 2017 and were largely underlined by guests and media. Focusing first and foremost on the continuous improvement of the exemplary well-being of animals in the care of the Ecomuseum Zoo, the ease of access to the zoo's educational programs, as well as a unique, warm and memorable experience for visitors, these advances continue to propel the organization and its mission.

The completion of the new living space for the River Otters, the most important project in the zoo’s history, was certainly the highlight. Unique and unequaled in its kind, the semi-aquatic living space offers the otters a 250,000 litre water basin and sophisticated indoor installation for daily husbandry and veterinary care. This of course is in addition to the complete and optimal experience offered to the zoo guests and education program participants.

We of course did not stop there, and to name only a few, our efforts brought us to completely renovate and/or improve the living spaces for the White-tailed Deer and the Snowy Owl and to put the final touches on the redesign of a summer living space for small mammals. Furthermore, the picnic area was renovated, many rest areas we added for guests along the site’s pathways, and numerous boardwalks and observation decks were constructed to allow easier access by education program participants and visitors.

What wonderful achievements and such pride we feel that these were made possible thanks to the support of the community and its values with respect to indigenous wildlife. It is important to remember here and again that the Ecomuseum Zoo is a non-profit organization whose operations are not subsidized. Attendance by our distinguished visitors who cherish their time at the zoo with friends, family and classmates, allow us to operate, to honor our mission and to offer professional daily and veterinary care essential to the well-being of the animals in our care.

Each dollar invested in the development and modernization of the zoo’s infrastructure stems from external fundraising sources. It is in large part thanks to the financial support of individual donors and private foundations who express their trust and commitment toward environmental education, conservation and animal well-being that the Ecomuseum Zoo can today grow so fiercely and quickly.

You can rest assured that our devotion to the well-being of the animals in our care, to the enhancement and protection of wildlife and to environmental education are immutable. They are our vocation, our desire for a society united in its wildlife and environment.

I remain touched by the dedication of the staff and volunteers that work daily for this beautiful organization, as well as the growing support and trust of the community.

Friends of the Ecomuseum Zoo, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

David Rodrigue
Executive Director