Dozens of animals died during the overhaul of the Montreal Biodome

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MONTREAL – The two-year remodel of the Montreal Biodome made it a lot better – but some of the animals that called the place home never returned. The stress of the move and several accidents proved to be too great for about 75 of the animals at the wildlife center, of which 3,000 were moved during the construction of their new ecosystems.

Staff at the facility said the move was really taxing and didn’t predict the effect of certain decisions on the animals.

“I think it’s kind of normal that we are having these difficult times throughout such a big renovation project that has lasted two years,” said Biodome vet Emiko Wong.

“Looking back, we could have done these things this way, that way, but we certainly didn’t anticipate them all.”

There have been several accidents which have resulted in the death of animals.

In temporary cages housing bats, for example, the mesh has been found to be too abrasive, damaging the delicate skin on their wings and leaving them vulnerable to infection.

“Some of them, we saw that the damage would lead to a very bad prognosis to return to the leak, so we made the decision to human euthanasia,” Wong said.

Forty-six bats of three different species died or were culled between April 2018 and March 2020.

About thirty birds were also killed by the movement, including twelve terns and four seagulls which were killed by a weasel that sneaked into their enclosure.

” In [weasels’] biology, they won’t necessarily eat what they kill, so it has killed many birds, one after another, ”Wong said.

Other animals had underlying health issues that staff believe were exacerbated by the stress of the move.

Two king penguins will be staying at the Calgary Zoo to save them the stress of being brought back to Montreal.

Now that the move is complete and the animals are back in their permanent enclosures, the Biodôme can take stock of what went well and what went wrong.

“There were some decisions that obviously needed to be readjusted, and other decisions that we saw, in hindsight, that were the right decision,” Wong said. “So we have a lot to learn from all of this.”

She said she is confident that the newly renovated Biodome will improve the lives of animals, which she believes are cared for by dedicated and passionate staff.

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