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Photos: Taymaz Valley

Exhibition: Discover how animals adapt to survive at Museum of Nature’s Survival of the Slowest—until 04.22.19

By Taymaz Valley on January 7, 2019

Paul “Little Ray” Goulet

The Canadian Museum of Nature has unveiled a number of rare, exciting and delightful animals, reptiles, birds and arachnids for their Survival of the Slowest exhibition, on now until April 22, 2019. When evolutionary scientists use the term survival of the fittest, it does not necessary mean the fastest or the strongest. It is precisely those creatures that can adapt to their environments who will survive and thrive, and that might mean being slow. Preserving energy, being stealth and staying still are amongst many reasons these creatures have evolved to have slow reactions and that is precisely why they are being celebrated in this splendid exhibition in Ottawa.

Organized in conjunction with Little Ray’s Nature Centres, all the animals partaking in the exhibition have been picked carefully for educational purposes to teach museum goers about the beauty of nature and how diverse the natural world can be. Paul “Little Ray” Goulet, zoo curator and owner of Little Ray’s Nature Centres, is a thoroughly knowledgeable researcher and passionate about every one of his participants.

I asked about the majestic barn owl perching above a tree branch, and he quickly told me the history behind this beautiful bird that is endangered in Ontario. These owls once inhabited hollowed tree trunks around these ways until humanity moved in and started to chop down the trees to build barns and houses. Then these owls lived in the wooden barns, hence the name, but that was only until farmers started to replace wooden barns with the more sturdy artificially walled ones we have now. So the barn owl found itself without a proper habitat, facing extinction. Anthropocene epoch at its ugliest.

Alongside the giant gecko, veiled chameleon, rattlesnake and the horned toad you can find Roger the choloepus, also known as the two-toed sloth. Roger and his fellow sloths are so slow that all sort of bugs and insects live in their fur. Indeed, even algae and fungi manage to find the time to grow in their fur that turns darker when in the forests during rainy seasons, allowing the sloths to blend in and camouflage themselves observed Paul Goulet. The female sloth Lilo was also present, and managed to win the hearts of all visitors to the exhibition with her calm demeanour.

This exhibition is a great educational tool for the young visitors and the information that is being disseminated throughout the museum hall as well as online help open your eyes about different regions and animals that have adapted to survive. Museum President Meg Beckel praised Little Ray’s and Paul Goulet for his tenacity and dedication to animal welfare in Ontario and spoke of how this exhibition compliments the museum’s permanents animal exhibitions perfectly. The museum’s research scientist and zoologist Robert S. Anderson also praised the exhibition and Paul Goulet for his fervour and care for the animals. This is an excellent opportunity for discovery, and one that should not be missed.


Survival of the Slowest will be at the Canadian Museum of Nature until April 22, 2019. Tickets can be bought at the Museum (240 McLeod Street) or online by visiting the website.


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