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Return to the wild

Did you know that sea otters float on their backs in groups called “rafts,” sometimes holding paws with fellow otters to avoid drifting apart? Embracing the notion of power in numbers, this is how they protect themselves against predators such as bald eagles and sharks. Peregrine falcons, for their part, are consummate creatures of habit, regularly returning to the same nesting sites. Falcon pairs have apparently used one site in England for more than 760 years!

This is but a glimpse of the intriguing wildlife facts featured in “Return to the wild,” a virtual exhibit profiling 24 aquatic, terrestrial and airborne animal species found throughout North America. Launched in June, the website was produced by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) with the support of the Canadian Heritage Information Network, as part of its Virtual Museum of Canada initiative to provide access to collections across the country through the internet.

Return to the wild” also offers interactive maps and descriptions of six ecozones in Canada: Arctic, northwestern forest, desert, prairie, boreal forest and eastern forest. Each species profile is linked to a series of articles on that animal from Canadian Geographic’s archives, which give insight into the evolution of wildlife conservation in Canada over the past 80 years and underline the RCGS’s continued commitment to environmental stewardship. Visitors interested in a historical perspective on the cougar, for example, can click on a link to an October 1950 story entitled “The eastern panther is not extinct.”

In addition, 12 lesson plans, developed by the Canadian Council for Geographic Education and aimed at students in middle and secondary school, are available on the site.

— Monique Roy-Sole

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