Shaw Museum Moments with Gavin Hanke

Gavin Hanke, Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Royal BC Museum, talks about alien species.

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© 2011, Royal British Columbia Museum Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


Royal BC Museum – Where the Past Lives

Museum Moment

Alien Invaders

Once upon a time, museum researchers used to focus more on collecting and displaying living things than on interpreting patterns in nature. 

Hi, I’m Connie Mitchell, here with Gavin Hanke from the Royal BC Museum.  Gavin’s curator of vertebrate zoology. 

Gavin, what are we doing here in the middle of this park?

Well, you can’t make a good museum display without new information and this can be found even in a city park.

What new information are we going to find in the middle of this duck pond?

What about this?

Wait a sec, I actually know that, that’s a Red-eared Turtle.  I didn’t know they were from southern British Columbia.

They’re here now, yeah.

What do you mean?

These are exotic animals.  These were normally found in the Mississippi River.  They’ve been dumped here, these are unwanted pets.  Most people don’t realize the damage that they can cause. 

Let’s have a look over here.

Good idea.

And here’s a bullfrog.  Exotic species like these threaten the environment when they spread outside of cities. 

I imagine natural change is inevitable, but releasing unwanted pets is just wrong in more ways than we can imagine.

BC’s unique environment becomes less so with every exotic species that gets released.  We should do what we can to prevent the release of exotics, especially pets.

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