By Stephen Johnson
My son, David, loves animals. He dreams of visiting the Amazon Rain Forest or the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately, our pocketbook does not extend as far as his imagination so we visit places closer to home to see animals.
One spot that I thought would be a hit with David was Parc Omega. It is located about one hour northeast of Ottawa just off Highway 323. The park specializes in wild animals that you would see around Canada like bears, elk, moose and wolves. There are a number of different ways to see the animals including several walking paths as well as a road that lets you see everything from the comfort of your car.
We started our day by visiting the park house which is home to a small restaurant and gift store. More importantly, they sold carrots to feed to the animals. After loading up on carrots, we hit the trail in our car. U
pon entering the park, we were immediately surrounded by elk looking for a tasty snack. David was in heaven. He tentatively rolled down the window to offer the elk carrots. Seeing it was safe, he was ready to give out all of our carrots in the first few minutes. I got David to pace himself as I knew there were many more animals to discover.
We drove slowly and saw a whole range of animals including moose, caribou and prairie bison. I loved the fact that David was becoming acquainted with animals found in Canada and not just exotic zoo animals like lions and tigers.
After driving and observing animals for about an hour, it was time to stop and go for a walk. There was a small sugar shack open the day we visited so we got to enjoy taffy on the snow. We also appreciated the small cabin where we warmed up by the wood-burning stove. It gave the park a nice rustic feel.
Close by, we discovered there was another spot to feed deer. This was the highlight for David. Deer timidly came up to him and took a carrot or some grain feed from his hand. It was amazing to see an animal so close in a natural environment. We must have spent close to a half hour just feeding the deer and enjoying the sunny day.
If you’re an alpine skier, you can bring your skis with you to Parc Omega since there’s a cross-country ski trail.
After spending quality time with the deer, I realized the park would be closing shortly so I encouraged David to hop back in the car to see the rest of the animals. And it was a thrill to see two alpine ibex (think cousin to a mountain sheep) clash horns with each other. When the ibex were calm, we fed them our remaining carrots and made our way home after a great day of animal-watching.
I found Parc Omega to be much more rewarding to visit than a zoo. The animals have a large amount of space to roam. It is important to follow the park rules as a person needs to respect the fact that these are powerful wild animals.
Perhaps I should leave the final words to my son David. He described Parc Omega as being “super cool.”
For more information about the park, visit www.parcomega.ca