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This review written by Ken Kawata and reprinted by Kind Permission of International Zoo News A damp and cold 1 June found us driving all the way around the Avalon Peninsula, NF, watching migrating woodland caribou. On the west coast of the peninsula near the town of Holyrood, Salmonier Nature Park was just opened for the season. Although it is not listed as a zoological facility by the AAA, the park exhibits a small number of native animals in captivity. There is no admission fee for this provincially operated park with 1,200 ha of land, 40 of which are developed for zoological exhibits. During the brief visit, we saw only three other visitors. A one-way trail of 2.3 km, mostly an elevated boardwalk, leads visitors through a forest; `sensitively' constructed, spacious enclosures are situated throughout the trail. The hard physical barriers that make up the enclosures blend in with the surrounding forest, and are not all that conspicuous. Naturalistic `furniture' such as trees and grass helps to soften the appearance of captivity. Small but basic signage explains the environment and animals. During the visit I noted the following: 1 red fox, 1 lynx, 2 moose, 1.0 woodland caribou, 1 great horned owl, 1.1 snowy owl, 1 American kestrel, 2 bald eagle and 8 Canada goose. An enclosure for the snowshoe hare was under construction. Labels were posted in enclosures for the following animals, but I could not locate them: river otter (a large enclosure), Arctic fox, mink, meadow vole and peregrine.
Captive animals constitute but a small part of the park, whose feature is an introduction to the boreal forest -- conifers with moss-laden branches, moist and spongy forest floor, bogs and marsh. Throughout the park, the lack of physical barriers to confine visitors in the public area was noticeable. For instance, for the most part the boardwalk had no guardrail, nor was there any sign to keep visitors from jumping down to the forest. Another example was the walk-through open enclosure for the snowy owl. The visiting public was expected to push the double gates, enter the exhibit and continue to stay on the boardwalk. Presumably the owls were either feather-clipped or pinioned, making them quite vulnerable. Any potential vandal could jump off the boardwalk, chase the birds around or worse, before the park staff found it out. Perhaps such an arrangement is possible in a remote location, a world away from any big city.
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