Did you know many of the exhibits in the new Museum of North Vancouver will be inspired by the wildlife around us? In fact, many familiar items, such as canoes, snowshoes, and paddles have been informed by the features of local wildlife.
The wildlife in North Vancouver is pretty unique, with cougars, bears, beavers, and eagles being just a few examples. I am constantly in awe at the diversity around us. At home with my kids, we’ve been exploring the special features or ‘adaptations’ the local wildlife has to help them survive in our local environment. We also looked at how this has influenced the design of some familiar recreation items.
Predictably, my kids were keen to start with the Black Bear. What helps them survive their hibernation? We discovered that bears eat A LOT in the autumn to build up a thick layer of fat to keep them warm while hibernating. Does a layer of fat really make such a big difference? Let’s find out!
Bear Glove Experiment
To do this at home you will need:
- ‘Bear Glove’ – Prepare ‘Bear Glove’ by placing one Ziploc bag (medium) inside the other and filling the gap between them with a thick layer of butter or lard (insulation), keep cold until needed so butter doesn’t melt.
- Elastic band or hair band.
- Bowl of ice water.
Step 1: Fill a bowl with plenty of ice and water.
Step 2: Place your ‘paw’ (hand) in the water with no protection and use a timer to count how long you can keep it in the icy water. *Tip* don’t keep it in longer than 60s or you might damage your skin.
Step 3: Give your ‘paw’ a layer of fat by placing it in the glove and securing it with an elastic band. Place your ‘paw’ back in the ice water and time how long you can keep it in this time.
Step 4: Compare times! We noticed a massive difference. Fat clearly keeps Bears very warm!
Bears are very well adapted for their environment and have wide oval-shaped paws that make it easier to walk on snow. The next time you are out snowshoeing, look closely at your feet. The snowshoes are doing the same thing as animal paws, with an oval shape that spreads the weight of the person so they don’t sink into the snow.
Indigenous snowshoes were handcrafted from wood and raw hide by First Nations people across Canada not as a recreational item, but as a means of survival. Naming their designs by reference to native animals, the First Nations introduced hundreds of variant patterns suitable for all possible conditions and terrain. The ‘Bearpaw’, ‘Swallow ‘and ‘Beavertail’ are classic examples.
Many of the exhibits in our new museum are inspired by the unique and extraordinary landscape that has shaped the history of North Vancouver. Come and visit us when we open in late-2020 and find out more!
We rely on contributions, monthly or one-time gifts, to help MONOVA safeguard and expand our community’s archival and museum collections, build learning experiences and inspire future generations.
Donations are accepted through the Friends of the North Vancouver Museum & Archives Society, Registered Charity No. 89031 1772 RR0001.
We respectfully acknowledge that MONOVA: Museum and Archives of North Vancouver is located on the traditional lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, whose ancestors have lived here for countless generations. We are grateful for the opportunity to live, work and learn with them on unceded Coast Salish Territory.