The Royal B.C. Museum hopes that a new travelling exhibit about the province’s endangered animals will encourage people to think about the effect humans are having on the planet.
Species at Risk is a new exhibit that features more than 30 replicas, taxidermy mounts, slides and photos of various reptiles, amphibians, mammals, birds, fish, plants, and marine and fresh water vertebrates that are endangered or extinct right in B.C.’s back yard.
“We’re trying to not make it sound like a drab, dry lecture. We’re not there to tell people what to do, but give people ideas of what they might want to do or try to help species at risk,” said Dr. Gavin Hanke, curator of vertebrate zoology at the Royal B.C. Museum.
“We’re trying to give people a hint of what you can do at home to ease your load on the planet and make life easier for some species.”
Some of the species that will be on display include the Vancouver Island marmot, monarch butterflies, the Dragon Lake White Fish (found in the Quesnel area), sharp tail snake that are considered endangered (Southern and Gulf islands), and the spadefoot toad (Okanagan) which is threatened due to habitat loss.
“It’s great for people to get out and gain an appreciation of what’s happening in B.C. We always hear about pandas and elephants and the big whales, but people forget that there are so many other things at risk, like slugs, insects, and they might go extinct without people even knowing,” said Hanke.
But don’t expect the exhibit to be housed in traditional museum form.
It will be travelling the province in a tear-drop trailer that’s “smaller than a smart car” and includes pop up trays and tables with specimens on it.
“It creates an appropriate atmosphere to look at the whole question of native and wild plants and vertebrates and the science of invasive species,” said Jack Lohman, museum CEO.
According to Lohman, the exhibit is a chance to provoke discussions around global issues.
“It’s all these global issues of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and climate change, These are all big subject matters, somehow with looking at our collections and expertise, we begin to at least provoke a discussion about them using real objects and that’s what museums have,” he said. “We’re taking our science on tour.”
Over the summer, the exhibit will tour the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan, making stops in Fort Langley, Chilliwack, Penticton, Merritt and Kelowna.