Montreal's “house of life” is a zoo, an aquarium and a nature preserve all under one futuristic glass roof.
Canada’s climate is one of extremes, but at the Montreal Biodome you can experience several climates in one place. The Biodome simulates five different ecosystems of the Americas ranging from tropical to Arctic, and serves as home to 250 animal and 500 plant species.
The Biodome’s five ecosystems are housed under the expansive glass roof of the velodrome built for the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. Upon entering, the first habitat is the Tropical Rainforest exhibit, the largest and most populated ecosystem of the Biodome. Look for tamarins in the trees and watch for piranhas stalking the river that runs through the habitat. Next is a re-creation of Laurentian Maple Forest, located between Quebec and the northern United States. This mountainous terrain is home to beavers and the rare Canada lynx. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence exhibit, visit an enormous tank for views of Atlantic marine life, including lobsters and halibut. Finally, the Arctic and Antarctic exhibits hold flocks of puffins and penguins.
The walk through the Biodome does not take long and you can easily race through all five exhibits in a half-hour. The Biodome, however, rewards patience and the longer you stay, the more you’ll see. Each habitat is full of wildlife, so take your time and move quietly.
For a small fee, rent an audio guide in English that will let you know what to look for. Signs along the walkway will also help you in your search for wildlife.
Arrive early, as the line for the Biodome can be long, especially during the summer months. Fortunately, even when the line is long, it tends to move quickly.
The Biodome is a few minutes northeast of Downtown next to the Olympic Stadium. It is easily accessible by metro, bus, bicycle or car, although there is a fee for parking. The magnificent Montreal Botanical Garden lies just across Rue Sherbrooke from the Biodome, so consider combining the two for a great day exploring Mother Nature, Montreal style.