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  6. Survival of the Slowest: Premiere of live-animal exhibition at Canadian Museum of Nature

Survival of the Slowest: Premiere of live-animal exhibition at Canadian Museum of Nature

Ottawa, Dec. 20, 2018 – Sometimes being slow or adept at hiding can be the best survival strategy. A new exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Nature explores the fascinating, counter-intuitive adaptations that certain animals such as iguanas, chameleons, hedgehogs and sloths have evolved in order to avoid being someone else’s lunch. Survival of the Slowest is on view at the Museum from December 21, 2018 to April 22, 2019.

This world premiere exhibition is produced by Little Ray’s Nature Centres in collaboration with the museum and features 19 habitats with live animals. Visitors will see a Two-toed Sloth, African Pygmy Hedgehog, Red-footed Tortoise, Massassauga Rattlesnake, Green Iguana, and a dozen other intriguing species.

“Live-animal exhibitions are an excellent way for people to connect with nature, to see species up close, and to better appreciate biodiversity,” says Meg Beckel, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature. “Through our partnership with Little Ray’s Nature Centres, we hope this new exhibition will inspire people to reflect on our connections with other animals and the importance of conservation.” 

This educational exhibition highlights survival strategies of different species and shows how slow and steady CAN win the race. Living a slow life means you eat less, save energy and hide more easily; whereas being fast can have its downsides—you spend a lot of energy chasing prey and face greater difficulty in times of food scarcity than slow creatures do.

“We couldn't be more pleased to have worked with the Canadian Museum of Nature on our newest touring exhibition, Survival of the Slowest,” says Paul Goulet, founder of Little Ray’s Nature Centres. “I am proud to have it debut here in our home town, in a museum I adored as a child, and which my children equally adore today. I thank the museum for partnering with us to share our passion for animals and biodiversity through this new show.”

Visitors will learn how general biology concepts apply in the real world and how survival in the animal world is all about trade-offs—some are cold-blooded, others warm-blooded; some are adapted to need food less frequently than others; and some find unique ways to hide from their adversaries.

Live-animal demonstrations by Little Ray’s staff will be offered daily (twice during weekdays, and four times during holidays, on weekends, and during March Break in Ontario and Quebec and weekends). In the presentation, visitors will see a featured creature outside of its exhibit habitat—possibly the Two-toed Sloth or the barn owl, subject to availability that day—learn more about its unique adaptations

Little Ray’s Nature Centres is the largest exotic animal rescue organization in Canada with educational programs reaching more than one million Canadians each year. Most of the animals in this exhibition are rescues. (The sloth was bred by a veterinarian who raises them for education about conservation).

The special exhibition fee for Survival of the Slowest is $6 in addition to the cost of general museum admission. Live-animal demonstrations are included in the special exhibition fee. (On Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm, general admission is free; the fee for Survival of the Slowest still applies).

Interesting facts!

·         Most slow animals, including sloths, use camouflage to avoid predation—you don’t have to run away if you can’t be seen. Other slowpokes, such as tortoises, lionfish and porcupines, have evolved armour and/or venom to deter attack.

·         Did you know that sloths actually grow algae on their fur, which helps conceal them in their leafy environment?

·         Being nocturnal helps sloths avoid their main predator—the Harpy Eagle, a daytime hunter.

·         Sloths’ extreme slowness makes them extremely vulnerable on the ground. There are only two reasons a sloth will leave a tree: to find a mate and to poop.

·         Sloths have the lowest relative muscle mass of any mammal. Only 25% of a sloth’s body mass is muscle, compared to 40% in humans and 58% in lions.

·         Iguanas can run quickly if needed, but they prefer to conserve energy and rely on camouflage to remain in trees.

·         Straw-coloured Fruit Bats are adapted for long flights. They have been known to fly up to 200 km in the search for food.

·         Rattlesnakes are “sit-and-wait” predators. Even their venom helps conserve energy. After the venom kills the prey, the snake can wait and eat at its leisure.

·         Some tarantulas have been reported to have gone two years without eating!

·         Horned Frogs from central South America live in dry areas. To avoid drying out, they form a cocoon of shed skin that locks in moisture.

·         The American Barn Owl is an amazing hunter. By focusing on nutritious, high-energy prey, it needs less food energy than other birds that eat grains.

Look for the hashtag #SlothAtTheMuseum on the Museum’s social media channels: Twitter (@museumofnature) and Instagram (museumofnature). Follow the Museum on facebook.com/Canadianmuseumofnature.

The Museum is located at 240 McLeod Street (at Metcalfe St.), Ottawa. See nature.ca for hours and other information.

About the Canadian Museum of Nature
The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada's national museum of natural history and natural sciences. The museum provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature's past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a 14.6-million-specimen collection, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca.

About Little Ray’s Nature Centres
Little Rays Nature Centres was founded in 1995 as a local, family-based, reptile rescue and educational outreach program. Since then it has grown to be largest exotic animal rescue in Canada. Its outreach programs include a comprehensive set of curriculum-based workshops for schools, museum exhibits on a wide range of topics used by museums and science centres across the US and Canada, and Canada’s largest pet therapy program, among many others. Nationally accredited by the Canadian Association of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums and licensed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, it is one of the only institutions recognized and allowed by the City of Ottawa to work with prohibited animals.

Media relations contacts:
Laura Sutin
Canadian Museum of Nature

Dan Smythe
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.566.4781; 613.698.9253 (cell)