From Whistler - we travelled back to Kamloops... eyes peeled along the way for a wildlife sighting of any sort (unlucky on this trip) and began planning for the next leg of trip. Before we departed Kamloops, there were a few more things we wanted to cross off... Blazers hockey game, Stand Up Paddling and a visit to the BC Wildlife Park. On the night of the hockey game, we arrived to purchase tickets and were pleasantly surprised to see the Kamloops Mounted Patrol greeting everyone in line. Of course, it isn't the exact same thing as seeing a Mountie but what a great way to give visitors a photo opportunity that they will be able to show friends & Family back home. I was really impressed at the dedication these volunteers have (they greet the Rocky Mountaineer train several times a week), as it is experiences like this that really add an extra touch to a visitors stay.
Alright... where are we at? Mountains - check! Mounties (kinda) - check! Now on to Moose...
Since catching a Moose in the wild is quite rare (and by wild, I mean mildly wild since we did nothing in the backcountry), we decided the BC Wildlife Park would be a good backup plan. For those of you who don't know - this isn't any ordinary 'zoo'.... this is a 13 hectare area supporting over 45 different species of animals who are native to BC - most who had been injured or abandoned. I know seeing animals behind fencing isn't quite the same as seeing them in the wild but it really is the next best thing and a great way to experience BC Wildlife safely.
Having grown up in Kamloops, I have been to the BC Wildlife Park more times than I can count on both hands & feet (and even worked there one summer!) so I really wasn't expecting to see or learn anything new. Boy, was I wrong! We luckily arrived about 45 minutes before the Black Bear feeding started so we did a quite tour of the park - and to our delight - all the animals were out and active so we got to see the cougars, lynx, grizzlies, etc. However, the black bear feeding was by far, the highlight of the tour!
The zookeepers go into the pen and hide fruit, fish and veggies everywhere... under, in and on top of logs, floating in the pond, buried in the ground and even on top of quite a tall stump that they would have to climb to get up on. When the bears were released, you could immediately see their personalities shine through. Both the females came bolting out but it was obviously one was more reserved than the other keeping her distance and sticking the back of the pen to start - while the feisty one booked it to all the best spots up front. After a few minutes, we saw the big guy saunter out - completely calm, in no rush. He made his way over to the pond to find an apple floating in the middle. What a smarty pants he was - he pawed the water to create waves which pushed the apple closer to him so he wouldn't have to get wet. How funny. The most amazing part to watch was the cease at which the bears climbed up the taller stumps. For such large creatures, they are definitely graceful. Even more amazing is the way they can balance their entire body on the top of it and even turn around with ease.
Now, I have to say that watching this whole process was pretty cool but what really impressed me was the fact the zoo keeper came out and talked to the crowd during the entire process. She told us the history of each bear, their personality quirks, about their diets, bear aware tips (embarrassingly, they completely contradicted what I had told our guests earlier in the week) and tons more information about bears in general. It is this type of interaction that really gets people engaged and coming back for more. After all the times that I have been to the park - this was by far my best experience and I look forward to checking out more animal encounters next year (cougar, wolves and grizzlies). Don't forget - the park is open year round with great seasonal themes like Boo at the Zoo for Halloween, Wild lights at Christmas and other special events for Mother's & Father's day and long weekends. This is a must do activity in Kamloops for any age group!
And as for that Moose.... we saw TWO!