On our January visit to Cape Breton Island we realized that since it was the off season and winter it would be tough to find things to do beyond winter hiking or snowshoeing in Highlands National Park so we took a drive from our cabin near Baddeck and drove to the Two Rivers Wildlife Park south of Sydney, Nova Scotia.
The wildlife park is open year round and since it was only a short drive, relatively speaking, from Baddeck through Sydney down to Marion Bridge on Highway 125 we decided to pack a lunch and our mittens and warm booties and go see the animals. We hadn’t seen a Moose yet, only tracks, and in January the creatures seemed to have either snuggled down for the winter in their beds or else left for warmer and more peacfull areas, so we were eager to go and see any sort of wildlife.
The Two Rivers Wildlife Park features cougars, bears, moose, eagles, reindeers, otters, bobcats, lynx and many more animals according to their advert in the Cape Breton Island Travel Guide. We called ahead to make sure they were open and indeed they were open from 10am until 4pm so we packed up and took the awesome drive along Bras D’Or Lake towards Sydney to the park. Can’t wait to see a moose!!
It was the off-season so we were expecting that things would be in a state of dormancy; as we approached the park on a cold January morning my high hopes began to sink a bit as things looked a little rough and in need of some TLC. We went to the Administration Office to get a map and pay because the office at the front gate was closed… the admin office was a bit grungy….but no matter, we’re troopers and nothing will stop me from seeing a moose!
We paid the admission, it was only $6, and DD remarked that they should charge more and clean the place up a bit! I agree…at least the employees could pick up the overstuffed trash bins and beers cans on the trails…not their fault…visitors with their Tim Hortons cups should get a reprimand as well. I can understand that at this time of year the employees had other things to do but as we walked to the admin office there was lots of trash along the boardwalk and even in the park we saw garbage lying about even though employees, or volunteers, rode around on their ATV’s.
No bother…it’s a lovely winter day so we will just enjoy!
But beyond the grim January setting we were very excited to set out on the trail. There was a rudeimentary map of the zoo grounds that helped us figure out what we were going to see. It was pretty cold as we set out on the trail but we were pretty much alone in the zoo so we were happy…I can image the park would be fairly crowded during the summer. It had a nice picnic area as well as a petting zoo (that we didn’t visit because we were too chilly) and the park would probably be an awesomely great family place in the warmth of summer.
We were hoping to do some of the 8km of trails that were shown on the map they gave us but they were closed for the season because of downed trees. It was pretty desolate, we would have liked to do some of the trails as the area seemd nicely wooded and it would be a nice walk in the summer. I guess if you go in January you should expect a limited amount of access.
The Arctic Foxes were probably the cutest creatures we saw there but it was great to see the Peacocks perched on their roost as well as seeing the bunny rabbits hopping along the snow covered trails. I wish I had seen the Moose but I guess she was hiding deep in the woods, one of the highlights was probably the Deer who followed us along the path asking for the dried fruit from our brown bag…she was an elderly deer and just seemed so friendly! It was nice to visit in January when there was no-one else in the park because every animal paid full attention to us and with the snow in the trees and the cold breeze we felt like we were visiting a place that was well cared for yet deep into the woods.
Of course I’m a bit of a big baby when it comes to seeing animals in cages; I prefer seeing the Eagles soaring along the shores of Lac Bras D’or, but it seemed that all the creatures were well taken care of and I hoped they at least provided the kids visiting the park with some understanding of the majestic stature and beauty and importance of the wild creatures.
It’s probably a very good place to come in the Summer as they have nice picnic areas and a petting zoo; they told us there were some baby goats in the barn but it was pretty chilly and after we did the full tour we were ready to have a lunch and get warm.
The fact that the Two Rivers Wildlife Park, which used to be operated by the Province of Nova Scotia before turning private, is still operational and taking care of the animals that are in the park is something I can really respect. It is a great place to visit, especially since it is near the Fort Louisburg Historical Site, and I would recommend it to anyone!
Of course I still prefer to see my wild animals in nature if possible…but it gets harder and hard to see a wild animal anymore so we were happy to at least be able to see these lovely creatures.
Even though I missed seeing the bear and the moose the otters were fun and they skipped over their iced over pool to greet us and DD took some funny videos of them cuddling and nibbling each other. I felt a little sad to see the big cougar all alone but I did make a connection with her, or him. She was sitting on a perch in her big cage and I was wearing a bright orange coat and I walked around the cage watching her and she soon started looking at me like I was a kitty cat play toy and she would have liked to chase after me and tear me to bits! I enjoyed seeing her instincts come to the surface as she looked fairly bored in the cage and was thankful that there were some protective bars between her and me!
What a stunning and strong animal, I really am in awe of that beast!