Team:Dalhousie Halifax NS/Shubenacadie

Shubenacadie Wildlife Park

Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park

The Shubenacadie Wildlife Park (pronounced "Shoo-ben-ack-a-dee") is about a 45 minute drive outside of Halifax, in the village of Shubenacadie. The 40 hectares of land designated as the Wildlife Park is home to 29 different mammal species including wolves, foxes, skunks, beavers and porcupines and many more. The park also houses 45 bird species such as geese, waterfowl, pheasants, and peacocks to name a few. The wildlife park acquires animals from zoological facilities around North America and a few animals have been rescued from the public, who attempted to keep wild animals as pets. The goal of the park is to care for orphaned, abandoned and sick animals with the intention of eventually releasing them back into the wild if the situation permits it.

The park is owned by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and has been operating since 1954. Since the early days, Shubenacadie Wildlife park has been dedicated to providing outdoor recreational and educational opportunities to the public. The park offers a wide variety of on-site and outreach programs for students from primary all the way to senior high school. These programs range in complexity from understanding your senses in nature, to the classification of biodiversity of native Nova Scotia fauna and the species at risk.

The Shubenacadie Wildlife Park’s dedication to scientific research and outreach was of huge help to us when they agreed to help provide samples for our iGEM project. The staff at Shubenacadie Wildlife Park were able to obtain 21 mammalian fecal samples for our project as well as counsel us on the dietary choice of the North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum). This was incredibly helpful to us and we are so thankful, therefore it seemed extremely appropriate to give back to them in the form of an interactive park map detailing the main fecal microbiome components of the mammalian samples we analyzed.

The interactive map will include all 21 mammal samples that we were able to obtain from the park. These will appear as black dots on the map of Shubenacadie Wildlife Park designed by members on our team. Once the black dots are selected, it will give you an overview of what animal it is, its main diet source and some overview microbiome statistics in the form of a pie-chart. When the pie-chart is selected a legend will appear with the bacterial names, mostly up to genus, although some to family classification level depending on the reads our analysis was able to give. We hope that this map will work as a tool to teach biodiversity, not just in the immediate environment but also within animals and ourselves. It is a great tool for increasing scientific literacy among the public, teaching them about gut microbiomes and how diet can effect the diversity of good and bad bacteria in animal microbiomes.

See below for some lovely pictures of the wildlife park. The Department of Natural Resources was kind enough to let us use the photos they have taken and display on their website, and show them here for your enjoyment. These photos were all taken by the Department of Natural Resources and photo credit goes the them.

Dalhousie iGEM 2016