North

Yukon mountain goats sent to Quebec wildlife park

Three kids were recently shipped east to a park in Quebec. The park has 'everything that our goats, we felt, would need to live a long, happy life,' said Maria Hallock of the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.

Three kids now 'doing very well' after moving to a new home across the country

Mountain goat kids at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. (Jake Paleczny)

It's not everyday that mountain goats from the Yukon Wildlife Preserve travel far from home. Yet, that's exactly what three young mountain goats from the facility have done.

And no, they didn't have to hoof it. 

Three kids — or, baby goats — were recently transferred to Parc Omega, a wildlife-viewing facility in Montebello, Que. The transfer was part of a conservation effort to establish a new herd there. 

Dr. Maria Hallock, a veterinarian and director of animal care at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, is in charge of overseeing any kind of animal transfer. She says the goat shipment has been in the making since last year, when the Wildlife Preserve hosted the Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums conference.

"After that, one of the facilities became interested — and that is the Parc Omega," Hallock said. "It's a beautiful park, has a lot more space than we do. About 2,000 acres — we have 780."

Maria Hallock, director of animal care at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, says the kids have everything at Parc Omega. (CBC)

Hallock said this request seemed like a good bet, though she's always a bit wary when other facilities offer to purchase or loan animals.

"Because we have the space, and not everybody else does, and we're pretty spoiled with what we can provide for our animals. And we obviously want them to have a similar quality of life, somewhere else," she said.

The Preserve has a large cliffed enclosure which hosts the largest mountain goat herd in North America, Hallock says. She says it can be hard for other institutions to live up to that standard.

Fortunately, Parc Omega also boasts a large amount of space, making it the perfect fit.

"They have a beautiful enclosure, very large, they had a cliff there. Lots of space — shrubs and trees, everything that our goats, we felt, would need to live a long, happy life," Hallock said.

'A bit stressful'

Still, Hallock says it's relatively unusual for the Preserve to move animals to other facilities.

"We don't breed our animals unless we have to. Like, unless someone asks for that purpose. And that usually is planned about a year or two in advance," she said.

Mountain goat kids at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. Three of them were recently transferred to Parc Omega, a wildlife-viewing facility in Montebello, Que. (Jake Paleczny)

Hallock said moving the goats wasn't easy. She says it was –36 C when it was time to separate the kids from the nannies (moms), and transfer them across the country by air.

"Everything at the point of separating the mountain goats, kids from their moms, to when they go — it has to be pretty well lined up. It's like a chain: if one link fails, the whole thing is not going to go through. So it's a bit stressful," Hallock said. 

Other facilities are also now showing interest in obtaining mountain goats, she says.

Grouse Mountain Park in Vancouver is one possible candidate for future transfers. Hallock says it seems to have a lot of space, and park officials want to keep the animals wild. They also don't have any other wildlife on display, which Hallock believes will allow any goats to flourish.

The kids are alright

Serge Lussier, technical director at Parc Omega, says thanks to the large enclosure at his facility, the newly-arrived Yukon kids are on display and thriving in their new home.

He says he's thrilled to have them there, so visitors can experience the fauna of Western Canada.

"I feel it's one of the most beautiful species in Canada," he said.

"Before we acquire any new species, we always look at the habitat first and we have that beautiful rocky mountain area ... it's really a natural habitat."

Lussier says the brand new enclosure, built specifically for the kids, is about 2.5 hectares. 

"They are doing very well, and we are very, very pleased," he said. 

"They tell the story about our country, about our nature. Because this is what's important for us, is connecting people to nature."

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