The Victoria Bug Zoo boasts a bountiful collection of live and robust multi-pedied insects, housing everything from warm and fuzzy tarantulas to the cold-hearted giant centipedes that wander the Sonoran Desert. Your Groupon is good for an annual pass to the insectorium, where you can freely roam the colony of more than 40 species of ’sects, bypassing the glow-in-the-dark scorpions to make a bumble-bee-line to the 400-leg millipede or the enormous ant farm. While bugs are kept safely in glass-enclosed insectariums, the friendly staff is known for hands-on education and often releases the friendlier of the bugs to mingle and wander up and down the arms of brave visitors.
Years ago, Olympic Game Farm was a home for actors. The bears, cougars, and big cats who lived on the premises were all movie stars—most often for Disney Studios, which worked with and filmed the farm's animals for 28 years. The farm's founder, Lloyd Beebe, served as the go-to trainer, and his bond with the wildlife was reputedly amazing. During those early years, he even managed to tame five wolverines, who would eat raw egg out of his hands.
Today, Lloyd's grandson Robert runs the farm. For the most part, the animals are no longer film celebrities—although footage of the famous waving bears has gone viral and even appeared in a Carrie Underwood video, and some animal actors from elsewhere still retire to the farm. The majority are descendants of the original film animals, or rescues. Visitors can drive through the park to see zebras, elk, wolves, and lions, then head to the petting farm for an up-close encounter. They can even feed many of the animals—whole-grain bread is an accepted treat.
Today, “1,141 of the 5,487 mammals on Earth are threatened with extinction.” But collective efforts and targeted conservation can help save them. Conservationists Gord and Yvonne Blankstein truly believe in these restorative efforts, and they founded Mountain View Conservation & Breeding Centre in 1986 to help rare and exotic species breed, learn calculus, and return to the wild. From its 300-acre campus in the Fraser Valley, Mountain View safeguards several species, including some of the most endangered wildlife species in British Columbia—the Northern spotted owl and the Vancouver Island marmot–along with 35 species of exotic birds breeding at the conservatory. Once animals can survive, staff members return them to their natural habitats around North America. Mountain View also sponsors educational tours of its facility to raise awareness about conserving wildlife and natural habitats.
Honeybee Centre buzzes with professional apiarists and busy hives, which work together to support Surrey's agriculture and inform the next generation of beekeepers. Most of the staff's time is spent renting out hives to pollinate fruit crops, then harvesting the resulting honey⎯whether from blueberry, cherry, or pumpkin plants⎯to sell in their store. The insect experts also provide an extermination alternative by removing and relocating pesky colonies of bees and wasps.
Additionally, the centre devotes significant resources to education, whether through kid-friendly exhibits or basic to advanced beekeeping courses, which help students manage their own hives and join in the bees' ritual dances. In the Bees & Bugs lab, kids of all ages tackle hands-on educational activities and watch live bees and other bugs. Afterwards, visitors can relax in the centre's Tea Hive Café, noshing on cookies or pie while sipping locally roasted coffee in a greenhouse.
Now the only remaining farm on Vancouver’s North Shore, Maplewood Farm—nestled along the banks of the Seymour River—was founded in the early 1900s by Mr. Akiyo Kogo and operated as a successful dairy farm before its designation as a rural heritage site in 1975. Dedicated to introducing visitors of all ages to the inner workings of a busy farm, such as the best time of day to hug a lamb, a team of farmhands circulates about the pastoral 5-acre plot entertaining visitors with educational presentations that include cow-milking demonstrations and the feeding of pigs and horses. Nascent ranchers can commune with nature as they arrange birdseed feasts on the ground for the farm’s chickens and ducks or power a pedal tractor around the grounds. An adorable assortment of livestock hangs around throughout the day, patiently fielding questions on why Old McDonald is allowed to break the ‘I before E’ rule with his cries of "E-I-E-I-O."