Top News

CREATURE FEATURE: Halifax Discovery Centre exhibit educates about animals’ slow and steady path to survival


A United Nations scientific report released this week sounded the alarm that a million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction.

Little Ray suggests thinking more locally about that daunting number.

“If you want to save an animal, a tiger’s really hard to save,” says Paul Raymond Goulet, co-founder of Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo. 

“A turtle in Nova Scotia is really, really easy to save. You can literally do it yourself.”

Goulet’s Ottawa-based business started as a privately funded zoo and animal rescue. It was founded and is owned by the husband and wife team of Paul and Sheri Goulet. Its Survival of the Slowest exhibit is set up at the Discovery Centre in Halifax through September.

“This is one of five touring museum exhibits we currently have,” Goulet said during an interview at a media preview.

“This is our newest exhibit, but we already have two more in development.

“This one in particular was at the Canadian Museum of Nature, it’s here now, it’s going to Brooklyn, N.Y. and will be there for seven months, then it goes to Georgia for four months, then it goes to Florida for another seven months.

“We’re actually building a second version of it.”

If we can make them love animals, we can make them appreciate saving them.

-Paul Goulet, Founder, Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo

Survival of the Slowest is the first live featured exhibit at the Discovery Centre. There are 12 habitats hosting such animals as a two-toed sloth, an African pygmy hedgehog, a veiled chameleon and a green iguana. There are several interactive information stations, and presentations by wildlife educators will be offered each day.

The popular sloth is a classic example of how animals have developed counterintuitive survival strategies.

Goulet knows something about evolution himself. He developed an interest in animals through high school and gained a reputation for doing programs at schools. He was on the management training track at a big bank when he decided to switch gears.

“This was never supposed to happen. I was supposed to be a vice-president of Scotiabank,” Goulet said.

“(Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo) was founded in 1995, I left my job in ’98, by 2000 we had opened our first nature centre, by 2003 we were doing stuff pretty much across Ontario, by 2007 we were literally across Canada.

“Even when I tell you this story, it blows my mind. I was in Myanmar in March, and I was there to manage the construction of a turtle conservation centre ... I really don’t understand the journey, and we’re still on that journey.”

That path already included Halifax, where there is a Little Ray’s franchise that carries out what Goulet calls the core of the business: intimate youth programming like birthday parties, daycares and schools.

“We’re not doom and gloom. We’re positive and we’re happy,” he said.

“It starts with the smallest actions. It starts with making sure that you recycle when you can and reusing. I think the messaging has really gotten away from that.

“If we can make them love animals, we can make them appreciate saving them.”

Recent Stories