Clamber inside a blue whale's heart at Telus Spark's new exhibit
Whales Tohorā on its last stop before heading home to New Zealand
Child-size visitors to Calgary's Telus Spark have a unique opportunity — to clamber inside a life-size model of a blue whale's heart.
Whales Tohorā, an exhibit from the National Museum of New Zealand, made a splash in Calgary on Saturday when it opened for what will be the last stop on its 10-year tour before it returns back to its home.
"It's about the cultural connections between humans and whales, and also the scientific research that's happening," said Allison Simpson, manager of exhibits at Telus Spark.
The exhibit has five complete whale skeletons on display, including two sperm whales — a 60-year-old female and a juvenile male that died before it was fully grown.
Māori weaponry and adornments will also be on display.
New Zealand is geographically located in such a way that it gets a significant amount of whale strandings, Simpson said, so while Māori people don't have a tradition of hunting the gentle giants, they have been harvesting parts from the animals for more than 1,000 years.
Māori culture regards whales with reverence — they're seen as friends and guardians, as evidenced by the Maori myth of Paikea, the whale-rider.
"The thing with whales is that they cross international boundaries," Simpson said.
"We have about 33 different species of whales that appear in Canadian waters."
The exhibit is expected to pass the 3-million-visitor mark while in Calgary.
Visitors can experience Whales Tohorā until June 20 at Telus Spark.
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With files from Francois Joly