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.
The triumphant crash of bowling balls against pins has been echoing throughout Brechin Lanes since 1956. The newly renovated five-pin-bowling alley maintains its family-friendly atmosphere by only selling soft drinks and prohibiting smoking within their walls. League banners hang over the 16-lane spread, and between turns, players cheer each other on from plastic benches or cushy seats throughout the centre. Atop whimsical bowling-pin-shaped coffee tables, players refuel their rolling arms and bragging muscles with hot dogs, poutine, and pizza made fresh to order. During weekend glow bowling, blacklights switch on, a crisp sound system booms the hits, and vampire bowlers suddenly become the brightest people in the room.
Eschewing the impersonal aura often present in chain movie theatres, Sidney's Star Cinema remains a steadfastly independent, community-driven outpost for viewing films. A new lineup of moving pictures is presented weekly and includes offerings to sate all manner of cinematic tastes, from blockbuster action flicks to independent documentaries to filmed performances of Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet. The theatre has shown its commitment to the community by starting a film society, which brings movie buffs together for discussion-filled meetings. While the theatre's projectionists currently operate one digital projector, they have recently embarked on an initiative to raise funds for a second projector to keep the first one from getting too lonely.
Like the colourful fan of its namesake's tail feathers, diamonds and triangles of billiard balls nestle into racks on Peacock Billiards' tables. A grid of 30 tables in an array of sizes and colours populates the room, surrounded by cushy leather couches and bright murals. Beneath the clatter of sunken shots can be heard the rhythmic tap of table-tennis matches and the furious spinning of foosball handles. The James Joyce Bistro resides in the corner, where patrons sitting in circular booths enjoy drinks and nachos served in cored-out copies of Dubliners.
The Whale Museum’s exhibits illustrate the natural history of marine mammals, placing special emphasis on the three orca pods that frolic in San Juan waters from May through September. Visitors can watch a looped 30-minute video on Pacific Northwest whales, or listen to the songs of various species in the Whale Phone Booth, which doubles as a superhero transformation chamber. Members enjoy discounts on educational programs and 10 percent off at the museum store.
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.