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Showing posts with label Ontario. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ontario. Show all posts

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Washed Ashore

Sebastian James The Puffin at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address:  2000 Meadowvale Road
Date: May 2019
Website: washedashore.org

  Each year thousands of pounds of plastic wash ashore on one Oregon beach.  A group of volunteers have been cleaning this debris from the beach.  This plastic has been made into artwork that reminds us that we need to stop our plastic consumption.  We visited the Toronto Zoo to see the giant animal ambassadors created by Washed Ashore.  The exhibit runs until November 2019.

Angela Haseltine Pozzi talks about Washed Ashore at The Toronto Zoo.

  On the day we visited, Angela Haseltine Pozzi was there to talk about the organization.  She founded Washed Ashore in 2010 and is one of the main artists.  Since 2010 she has worked with volunteers to put in countless hours, collected over 40,000 pounds of plastic from the ocean and turned it into over 70 works of art.  There are eleven sculptures on display at the zoo.  Angela is standing beside Sebastian James the puffin.

Flash The Marlin at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo

  This sculpture by the zoo entrance is Flash the marlin.  Marlin are one of the fastest swimming fish in the ocean and travel many miles through the water.  They need the water to be clean and free of plastic that gets in their way.

Water Bottle Jelly at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo

  Sebastian James the puffin stands outside of the zoo's main gift shop.  Just inside the doors to the gift shops hangs a jellyfish made out of water bottles.

Australian Water Bottle Jelly at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo

  Outside of the Australasia pavilion is another jellyfish.  This jellyfish is also made from plastic water bottles.  We should try to drink from reusable containers and at home drink Brita filtered water from glasses.  The large packs of bottled water are a huge plastic waste, not to mention breaking your back by lugging them home.  Sea turtles like to eat jellyfish and sadly cannot tell the difference between floating plastic and a swimming jelly.  They end up filling their bellies with plastic instead of food.

Grace the Humpback Whale at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo.

  Just around the bend from the Australasia jellyfish is Grace the humpback whale.  Humans almost hunted humpback whales to extinction but today they can be found in all of the world's oceans.

Grace the Humpback Whale at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo.

  A closer look at Grace shows some of the plastic from toys, umbrellas and other items.  Sadly, the real humpbacks are forced to swim through this garbage every day.

Poly The Polar Bear at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo

  Poly the polar bear was made with the help of staff from the Toronto Zoo.  Poly's name comes from polyethylene, polystyrene and other names for plastic.  Poly is supporting the idea that we all try to reduce, reuse, recycle and refuse when dealing with plastics.  The best option is to refuse single use plastics.

Poly the Plastic Polar Bear at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo.

  Poly is also made from plastic trays, containers and more garbage which came from the Rouge Valley surrounding the zoo.

Nora The Salmon at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo

    Nora the salmon is found near the Kid's Zoo.  Salmon travel up streams to mate and spawn.  The new salmon swim back to the ocean.  Unfortunately, millions of pounds of plastic polution also head downstream into the ocean each year.

Octavia the Octopus at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo

  Octavia the octopus was sitting outside the Americas pavilion.  One of her arms was around the neck of a plastic Canada goose, but it should be trying to shake some sense into people who don't realize the consequences of their actions.

Sylvia the Silvertip Shark at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo

  In the African savannah you can find Sylvia the silvertip shark.  Sharks eat other small fish who eat plastic and this means the sharks end up eating the plastic too.

Rufus the Triggerfish at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo

  Rufus the triggerfish is near the Indian rhino house.  He is made up of children's beach toys, flip flops and even parts of chairs.

Rufus the Triggerfish at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo

  Triggerfish have sharp teeth and strong jaws that let them eat urchins and mollusks.  Plastic has been found with their bite marks, which means they are also eating this harmful human product.

Gertrude the Penguin at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo.

   Oil pollution is the main threat to penguin populations.  Next to the black-footed penguin exhibit is Gertrude the penguin.

Gertrude the Penguin at Washed Ashore Toronto Zoo

  Gertrude looked down on us as if to say "You can do better!".  We all need to think about how we can help the animals.  Washed Ashore vows to keep on spreading their message as long as there is debris floating up on their beach.  They dream that they will one day run out of supplies for their art.
 

Click here to take a virtual tour and see our collection of Toronto Zoo animal photos.

Map of Our World
Toronto Zoo

Post # 256

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Toronto Humane Society

Toronto Humane Society Mural

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address:  11 River Street
Date: May 2019
Website: www.torontohumanesociety.com

  The Toronto Humane Society always has its doors open for stray animals.  During Doors Open Toronto it welcomed people to tour behind the scenes.  The Humane Society is always a place of great sadness when a lost or injured animal is brought into the shelter.  It can also be a place of great joy when these animals find a new home.

Cats & Uber 5000's Bird Toronto Humane Society Mural

  The Humane Society building is hard to miss thanks to a bright mural by artist Uber 5000.  The mural fills the entire wall of the building which is located where King Street East meets Queen Street East.  As always in any Uber 5000 artwork there are little yellow birds hiding in the background.

Glenn Gould Dedication Toronto Humane Society

  As we entered the building we noticed a dedication to thank Canadian pianist Glenn Gould for his contributions.  Glenn was alway known for his love of animals as well as his piano playing.

Dogs Uber 500 Mural Toronto Humane Society

  The first animals we visited were the dogs.  As our group gathered, a volunteer brought out a small black dog and worked his way through the crowd.  Behind him followed an older man who said "He's going to be my dog".  A huge smile stretched across his face.  This was not the only dog to be successfully adopted.  As the dogs yipped and barked for our attention we could see from the signage that most would be on their way to new homes soon.

Bunny Door Stop

  After the dogs we visited the special species section.  A bunny door stop held the door open for us.

Bunny At Toronto Humane Society

  Just inside the doors was Carmel the bunny.  Carmel was doing her best to look cute and adoptable.  Getting a pet on impulse is a bad idea without understading the long term cost and comittment.

Hedgehog Care Book Toronto Humane Society.

  There were lots of information packages on caring for different animals.  We know a family who recently took in an African pygmy hedgehog so we picked up a booklet for them.

Red-Eared Slider

  Several pools at the back of the room held red-eared slider turtles.  Red-eared sliders are the most invasive turtle species in Ontario ponds.  Don't release your unwanted turtle into the wild.  Again think before you buy one as a pet.  Wild red-eared sliders are causing our local turtle species to head towards extinction.

A Bearded Dragon at Toronto Humane Society

  At the exit was a bearded dragon who was wearing a cone so he didn't touch or scratch where he shouldn't.  A note next to him stated that he was headed to a sanctuary.

Doug The Dog Toronto Humane Society Mural

  A lot of feral or street animals come into the shelter.  The only way to stop more and more of them from coming is to have them spayed or neutered.  This way they can no longer reproduce.

Spay or Neutering area at Toronto Humane Society

  A sign in the operating area shows how they clip the ears of spayed or neutered cats so they can easily be recognized.  This prevents cats being rounded up for repeat surgery that they don't need.

A Cat With Yarn

  The shelter is also home to many cats.  Cats like yarn and thread which can be a problem.

Toronto Humane Society Cat X-ray.

  We were shown some animal x-rays that showed broken bones and some that showed needles stuck inside a cat.  Cats love the thread but dont realize a needle is tied to the end.  Any metal in an x-ray shows up bright white like bones do.

Toronto Humane Society Donation Box.

  The Toronto Humane Society does a good job looking out for animals in our city.  They also do a good job for people who get the gift of a pet in their life.

Map of Our World
Toronto Humane Society

Post # 252

Monday, 20 May 2019

Capybara (The World's Biggest Rodent)

A Capybara Sits On The Grass.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address:  2000 Meadowvale Road
Date: May 2019
Website: www.torontozoo.com

  Some people may be surprised to learn that the world's biggest rodent is not a rat found in the New York subway system.  The title belongs to South America's capybara which weighs up to 65 kg, stands almost 2 feet tall and can grow up to 4 feet long.  We have come across capybara at several zoos, but had a real close encounter at the Toronto Zoo.


  Diego the capybara lives at the Toronto Zoo.  The zoo just recently started some Wild Encounter programs.  We were able to learn more about him as well as feed him a treat of some fresh lettuce.  Capybara are herbivores and eat only plants.  In fact the name capybara translates roughly to "master of the grasses".  All rodents have teeth that constantly grow and must gnaw on things to wear the teeth down.  As we fed the lettuce we had to make sure not to get near those teeth.

Capybara's Webbed Feet.

  Capybara are semi-aquatic and spend most of their time in the water.  They have webbed feet which helps make them great swimmers.  Their nostrils and eyes are high on their face so they can breathe and see above the water, but if they have to, a capybara can stay under water for up to 5 minutes.

The Behind Of A Capybara.

  Capybara have a high rounded back.  Diego looks kind of like a coconut with legs in the photo above.

Capybara And A Waterfall.

  The other capybara at the Toronto Zoo can be found near the waterfall in the Americas section.  Diego prefers to keep by himself and lives in the Kid's Zoo not that far from his relative the guinea pig.

Capybara eating in the water.

  The keepers said that Diego was about 6 years old.   We think that the photo above may have been taken while Diego, his brother and parents enjoyed a family dinner together.

High Park Capybara Family.

  In Toronto there are also capybara at the High Park Zoo.  Two of the High Park capybara are famous for escaping.  One of them wasn't found for almost a month before being returned to the zoo.  In the photos and video above you can see the runaways with their babies.  Baby capybara are called pups.

A Capybara During Feeding Time.

  Feeding the capybara was fun and Diego was friends with whoever had a piece of lettuce.  Once all the lettuce was gone he went off to the other side of his enclosure to be by himself again.  It was great to see and learn about this amazing rodent up close.   Next time we are in New York City though, we would still like the rats to keep to themselves.


Click here to take a virtual tour and see our collection of Toronto Zoo animal photos.

Map of Our World
Toronto Zoo (Kids Zoo) , High Park Zoo

Post # 251

Friday, 10 May 2019

Westfield Heritage Museum (1775 to 1825)

A Stone Commemorates the Opening of Westfeild Village

Location: Rockton, Ontario, Canada
Address: 1049 Kirkwall Road
Date: May 2019
Website:  westfieldheritage.ca

  In October 1960 two Brantford area high school teachers started Westfield Village in order to educate children and adults on how life was lived in 19th century Ontario.  They started the process of moving heritage buildings to a thirty acre property that they had purchased.  Today that property has over 40 buildings and is known as Westfield Heritage Museum.  During Doors Open Hamilton we visted the museum and learned a thing or two about how life used to be.

Hill House From 1911 and Westbrook House from 1810

    We started our tour in the area representing the years 1775 up to 1825.  The first houses we came across were Hill House (pictured above on the right) and Westbrook House (white house in distance).  Hill House was built in 1911 on the Six Nations Reserve in Brantford but was built in a similar style to homes built in the early 1800s.  Westbrook House came from Brant County and was a much fancier home.  It originally overlooked the "Battle of Malcolm's Mills" in 1814 which was the last land battle on Canadian soil.

Westfield Village Oldest Log Chapel in Ontario.

  Across the road from Hill House stood a log chapel.  This was built in 1814 and is believed to be the oldest log chapel in all of Ontario.

Queen's Rangers' Cabin At Westfield Heritage Museum.
Bamberger House Built 1810 At Westfeild Heritage Museum.

  Two other buildings in this area are the Queen's Rangers' cabin built in 1792 and the Bamberger House (the one with four windows on the left) built in 1810.  Bamberger House was the oldest home in Hamilton before being moved to Westfield.  The Queen's Ranger's cabin is one of the oldest log cabins in Ontario.  If you want old homes made of logs, then Westfield is your place.

A Man Sits Outside ATrading Post At Westfiled Heritage Museum.

  The most interesting building in this section of Westfield was the 19th Century Trading Post.  As we walked by, the man out front said "Before you head into the future let me tell you a few things about life in the early 1800s."  We followed him into the building.

Inside The Trading Post.

  Now some of what the man told us is true and some of it is just tall tales.  All of it was entertaining.  First he explained different levels of poor.  The expression "dirt poor" is someone who could not afford to have wooden floors put in their house so the ground level was just dirt.  The building we were in had wooden floors.  He also stated that horses were also kept on the ground floor so they would stand in the dirt and the family would live upstairs.  The expression "mad as a hatter" came from the hat makers who used mercury to make hats out of animal skins like beavers.  The hatmaker and sometimes the frequent hat wearer would suffer from mercury posioning and often become delirious and live a shortened life from prolonged exposure.  A beaver hat in the early 1800s could cost up to $500 dollars.  Only the very well-to-do could afford such a luxury.  A building such as the trading post itself would cost only $100 dollars.  Madness!

Furs dry on a fence at Westfiled Village.

  Another level of poor is "piss poor".  In order to tan the hides of animals, urine was used in the process.  A very poor family could fill a bucket and take it to the Trading Post in exchange for some money.  Unfortunately, some people didn't even have a pot to piss in. The man also went on to explain the origin of a threshold in the home and "throwing the baby out with the bath water". 
  We left the Trading Post and headed deeper into the Westfield Heritage Village.  We were headed towards the 1900s. All the tales we had just heard are passed on through the years much like the information about the old homes at Westfield.  Thankfully someone is around to preserve them.

Map of Our World
Westfield Heritage Museum

Post # 250

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Courtship Display of the American Woodcock

Sun Setting At The Leslie Spit Toronto

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: 1 Lesle Street
Date: April 2019
Website:  www.torontobirding.ca

   Spring is in the air.  As the sun is setting, the courtship dance of the American woodcock is about to begin.  We joined an enthusiastic group of birders on Toronto's Leslie Spit to see this strange little bird in action.

A Taxidermied American Woodcock

   The American woodcock is a weird looking creature that has a round body, short legs, and a long bill.  Woodcocks also have their eyes up high on the sides of their head.  This lets them see 360 degrees.  They use their long bills to pull worms from the soil.  They can actually open and close just the tip of their beak to grab a worm underground as if using a small set of tweezers.  In Ontario, breeding woodcocks arrive in mid-April and courtships can last until the end of May.

Power Plant On Unwin Avenue Toronto

  Our group had come to the Spit just before sunset specifically to view the courtship display.  After some discussion from our group leader explaining what we would be seeing, we drove to a bend in Unwin Avenue and pulled over to the edge of the road.  Woodcocks like to breed in pastures, small forest openings or along a roadside.  A male will mate with as many females as it can and has no involvement in the nesting or caring for the chicks.  It is however, up to the females to decide if they are impressed with a male woodcock's performance and agree to mate.

Let the dance begin!

  It wasn't long after we parked that the woodcocks began to perform.  There were about three males competing in the area surrounding us.  Tonight they would have to attract a female by making their presence known over the occasional traffic noise and a group of about 15 noisy humans.  You can hear the sounds the woodcocks make if you listen carefully to the video below.


   First the woodcock makes what is called a "Peent" sound.  It will do this several times as it turns in place.  Next it will suddenly fly up into the air and do several large circular passes.  Its primary wing feathers create a twittering sound as the wings flap through the air.  After making the larger circles it heads back down to the ground much like a stunt plane at an air show.  It returns in small tight spirals to land almost exactly where it started from.  If no female approaches then it starts the whole process over again.  A male woodcock will do this courtship display every night during the breeding season.

CN Tower As Viewed From Leslie Spit

    As darkness took over, the performances continued.  We decided that standing on a poorly lit street staring up at the sky while traffic came around a sharp bend in the road behind us was not where we wanted to be.  We wished the woodcocks the best of luck and headed home.  Once again, the beauty and complexity of nature had amazed us.

Map of Our World
Tommy Thompson Park (Baselands)

Post # 249