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."
In the verdant Cowichan Valley, Pacific Northwest Raptors cares for a diverse flock of birds of prey—owls twist their heart-shaped heads curiously, and hawks look on with eyes like copper coins. The staff provides them a safe habitat while educating the public about their habits, hunting methods, and favourite brands of feather cosmetics. Eagles and falcons ride warm zephyrs overhead daily, searching for prey high over the canopy when they aren’t perched back at the centre.
Avian experts demo the birds’ skills during walks, which include the opportunity for patrons to have a hawk or owl land on a gloved hand or already impressive jaw line. Intensive workshops and week-long falconry courses let guests settle in with the animals beneath the towering trees, which hush each other liltingly in the wind. Regular family events at the centre facilitate bonding with the regal raptors, many of which are trained in film work and pest control.