5 Questions with a Polar Bear Keeper

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(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Marie-Josée Côté, one of the zookeepers (and the one in charge of the polar bears) at Zoo Sauvage de St-Félicien. See The Roarbots review of the zoo here.

Zoey is in love with polar bears. Her favorite stuffed animal in the world is a little polar bear, and she takes it with her everywhere. It’s literally been around the world since Zoey took it along to China and Japan….and now Canada!

Our local zoo–the National Zoo in Washington, DC–sadly doesn’t have any polar bears. Therefore, Zoey was beyond excited when she got to see a real, live polar bear while visiting Zoo Sauvage in Quebec.

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Tour of Cirque du Soleil International Headquarters

Cirque du Soleil IHQ

Fair warning: This is a long post with a lot of pictures. However, if you’re a fan of Cirque du Soleil, it’s totally worth the journey.

Mrs. Roarbot and I are big fans of Cirque du Soleil. Although some of the shows share similar acts, each is remarkably unique from the others. They’re all so distinct that it sometimes seems unfair to compare them. If pressed to name a favorite of the eight or nine I’ve seen, I’d probably say (a resident show in Las Vegas) for the sheer spectacle it presents. It was the first Cirque du Soleil show to present a cohesive storyline, and it is one of the most technologically advanced productions ever made. Plus, the music is really great.

The 5yo Roarbot is also really into gymnastics, so she’s been enthralled by most of the acrobatic acts she’s seen on YouTube or DVD.

Since 1984, there have been a total of 35 different Cirque du Soleil shows. Currently, there 19 shows in simultaneous production around the world. The Cirque du Soleil brand has truly become an artistic juggernaut that is blatantly emulated by scores of smaller troupes (sometimes by simply using the word cirque to lure in audiences).

On a recent trip to Montreal, which is Cirque du Soleil’s hometown, we were fortunate enough to be invited to tour the organization’s international headquarters. Built in 1997, expanded twice in 2001 and 2007, and housing some 1,400 full-time employees, the building is not open for public tours. This made the private tour given to the Roarbots all the more special.

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Zoo Sauvage de St-Félicien

Zoo Sauvage

Zoos. You either love them…or you don’t. Where do the Roarbots fall? Ironically, I think we’re somewhere in between. Good zoos can be wonderful. Bad zoos? Don’t get me started. They can be some of the most depressing places on Earth and cause for us to denounce all zoos.

But the good ones? The unique ones? The truly awe-inspiring ones? The places that genuinely care about the animals and actively support conservation efforts? Those are fantastic.

We’ve been fortunate enough to visit several such places that we’d recommend in a heartbeat: the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, The Singapore Zoo and Night Safari…and now, Zoo Sauvage de St-Félicien in Quebec, Canada.

About three hours north of Quebec City, on the other side of a breathtaking drive through the Laurentides, Zoo Sauvage is located near Saint-Jean Lake in Saint-Félicien. We drove up from Quebec specifically for the zoo.

Was it worth the drive? Absolutely.

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Espace pour la Vie (Space for Life), part 3: Insectarium and Botanical Gardens

Montreal Insectarium

[Read part 1 of our review (the Biodôme) here and part 2 of our review (the planetarium) here.]

Finally, we come to the end of our journey through Montréal’s Space for Life (Espace pour la Vie): the insectarium and botanical garden (Jardin Botanique). Ironically, it’s also the largest space; in fact, you could easily spend the better part of a day in the botanical garden alone. The gardens are about a 10–15 minute walk from the rest of the Space for Life complex.

The Insectarium is housed in a somewhat small building (when compared with the Biodôme and planetarium), but it’s billed as “one of the largest insect museums in North America.” Truly, I’m stumped to think of another, so who am I to argue with that claim?

Two steps inside the building and the kids were enthralled. Their mother had a constant look of unease the entire time we were there, but the kids? They LOVED this place.

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Espace pour la Vie (Space for Life), part 2: Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium

Montreal Planetarium

[Read part 1 of our review (the Biodôme) here and part 3 of our review (the botanical garden/insectarium) here.]

Continuing our journey through the sprawling Espace pour la Vie (Space for Life) in Montréal, we move next door from the Biodôme to the planetarium. We also move away from the various ecosystems of our own little planet to the vastness of the Universe.

Admission to the planetarium includes access to three separate attractions: two different shows in two different planetarium domes and the permanent exhibition between them.

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Espace pour la Vie (Space for Life), part 1: Biodôme

[Read part 2 of our review (the planetarium) here and part 3 of our review (the botanical garden/insectarium) here.]

Montreal’s Espace pour la Vie (Space for Life) is actually a sprawling complex that includes several different “spaces”: the Biodôme, a planetarium, a botanical garden, and an insectarium. It should be noted up front that each charges a separate entry fee (the botanical garden and insectarium are included together), but they offer combined admission tickets, which make the most sense if you want to visit more than one.

However, visiting all in one day (which is what we did) is a major endeavor, especially with young kids. It’s a whole-day affair. In fact, there’s so much to see that I’m actually going to split this across three posts.

First up, let’s take a walk through the Biodôme, a massive structure built to house and replicate various ecosystems found in the Americas. The building is mostly divided into four main ecosystems, but there are other spaces available for temporary exhibits.

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