As the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) moves to its new location in downtown Edmonton, the relocation includes transporting thousands of its smallest live exhibits.
It will take several weeks to complete the intricate process of moving the invertebrate collection.
“We have at least a couple hundred different species that we take care of here and in order to transport them to the new building, we need to be very careful, make sure we consider the animals’ lives and stress and well-being, make sure that it’s safe for us to move as well, so that occupational health and safety is all looked after,” explained Peter Heule, the RAM’s live animals supervisor.
Some of the critters actually require special permits.
“If they were to escape into the greater environment, they could be a threat to our crops or our forests or something like that.
“We have to make sure that we’re adhering to containment regulations set by the federal government and have permission to move these things from one containment zone to another.”
He said anyone who’s moved their family from one residence to another can understand how complex this process is.
“Most of us have moved our own homes and maybe have some plants and pets at home but it’s not quite this many creatures, not quite this many mouths to feed, so we’re doing it very, very carefully,” Heule said.
“I’d be lying if I said it all fit in one trip. We’re having to take several trips and move things very carefully. We have corals, we have stick insects, we have tarantulas, we even have a greenhouse full of food plants.
“Part of that move is also making sure that those animals are not stressed out while they’re doing that,” Heule said. “Some things are being packed into their own special transport containers, other things are moved in their actual enclosures, we just need to make sure nothing is going to shift in the move.”
The relocation is taking place in stages. On Tuesday, it was moving day for the “vast majority” of the RAM’s “many legged friends.”
The new space offers a lot of exciting new features, Heule said.
“It’s a much more sophisticated space. We’re trying to go for like an art gallery of bugs.
“Our individual enclosures on display — we have much more control over humidity, temperature… lighting, that we didn’t really have in the old setup. So we have a lot more capacity to recreate the natural habitats of these animals.”
Visitors will also be able to see what used to be kept behind closed doors: the hatchery and breeding program.
Heule expects the new space to be open to the public in the fall.