History and museums
The Montreal Biodome (French: Biodôme de Montréal) is a facility located at Olympic Park in the Montreal neighbourhood of Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve that allows visitors to walk through replicas of four ecosystems found in the Americas. The building was originally constructed for the 1976 Olympic Games as a velodrome. It hosted both track cycling and judo events. Renovations on the building began in 1989 and in 1992 the indoor nature exhibit was opened.
The Montreal Biodome is one of four facilities operated by the Montreal Nature Museum, which include the Montreal Insectarium, Montreal Botanical Garden, and Montreal Planetarium. It is an accredited member of both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA).
The building was designed by French architect Roger Taillibert as part of his larger plan for an Olympic park that included the Montreal Olympic Stadium and the Olympic pool. The venue was a combined velodrome and Judo facility. Construction of the building began in August 1973, and the facility was officially opened in April 1976.
In 1988, a feasibility study was conducted for converting the velodrome into a biodome. Construction started in 1989, and the facility was opened to the public on 18 June 1992 as the Montreal Biodome.
In the summer of 2003, the Biodome installed an audio guide system that lets visitors get information about what they are viewing, and also provides statistics to the facility about what the visitors find most interesting. Visitors can rent a receiver programmed to receive French, Spanish, or English for adults, or French or English for children.
The facility allows visitors to walk through replicas of four ecosystems found in the Americas:
All the exhibits are housed inside the former velodrome (cycling stadium) that was used for the cycling and judo events of the 1976 Summer Olympics, with each of the four environments taking up a portion of the stadium. A variety of animals live in each simulated habitat, ranging from the macaws in the Tropical Forest, to the lynx in the Laurentian Forest, to the penguins in the Antarctic and the different kinds of fish that inhabit the waters of the Saint Lawrence River. As well, two new species have been discovered living in the Biodome: the acarian Copidognathus biodomus in the simulated estuary in 1996, and the bacterium Nitratireductor aquibiodomus in the water reprocessing system in 2003.
The Biodome should not be confused with the Biosphère, a Montreal museum about the St. Lawrence river located inside the geodesic dome that once housed the American pavilion for Expo 67. The Biodome, in contrast, is neither spherical nor a geodesic dome, and was once called the Velodrome, as it housed the 1976 Olympic cycling events. The Biodome was not an animal and plant conservation/research centre until 1992.