Park is sim­ply per­fec­tion

Assini­boine green space one spe­cial place

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - THIS CITY - By Rachel Ines

I

Twouldn’t be sum­mer in Win­nipeg with­out a trip to Assini­boine Park. As soon as our weather shifts from the bit­ing cold of win­ter to the warm breeze of a sunny day, a trip to the park be­comes part of my rou­tine. The green space, gar­dens and walk­ing and bik­ing trails have pro­vided me with a life­time of mem­o­ries. For as long as I can re­mem­ber, Assini­boine Park has al­ways been a part of my life — whether join­ing fam­ily and friends for a pic­nic, play­ing field hockey in high school, catch­ing up with friends or vis­it­ing the an­i­mals at the zoo.

There’s some­thing about spend­ing an af­ter­noon at the park — go­ing for a walk, ad­mir­ing the art in the Leo Mol Sculp­ture Gar­den, strolling through the Con­ser­va­tory, watch­ing the ducks at the Duck Pond, vis­it­ing the zoo or tak­ing a walk around the pavil­ion. Depend­ing on your mood, the park of­fers a lit­tle some­thing for ev­ery­one. Even if you just want to sit down, re­lax and do noth­ing, you can al­ways find a lit­tle green space to call your own.

One of my fond­est mem­o­ries of Assini­boine Park is tak­ing a sum­mer-ses­sion course in univer­sity. I was an un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dent study­ing an­thro­pol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Win­nipeg and my depart­ment of­fered a pri­mate field school at the zoo. For about a month, I spent my week­day morn­ings study­ing a group of lion-tailed macaques. Part of my course­work that June in­volved ob­serv­ing the group and record­ing their ac­tiv­i­ties for a set pe­riod.

School­child­ren were so ex­cited when they came to the macaques cage and squealed in de­light to see them, well, just mon­key­ing around. How­ever, it made com­plet­ing my course­work more dif­fi­cult be­cause the chil­dren would come in such large groups, at a steady pace. I re­ally en­joyed ar­riv­ing early in the morn­ing, be­fore any­one was al­lowed in. It was much eas­ier to do my work and it of­fered me a chance to ob­serve the macaques with­out dis­trac­tion. They seemed much calmer and went about their morn­ing rou­tine, play­ing and wait­ing for the zookeep­ers to feed them. It also al­lowed me to learn more de­tails about the mon­keys from the zookeep­ers. Did you know the ba­bies were named with the first let­ter of their mother’s name — Mi­rage or Jalna?

For a few weeks, I re­ally got to know this group of macaques. At first it was a chal­lenge learn­ing to tell them apart, but like hu­mans, they have their own per­son­al­i­ties and quirks. Once you get past the furry faces, you see they have their own dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures. It may seem odd, but I like to think even dur­ing this short pe­riod, I was able to make a con­nec­tion with the macaques even though I was there solely as an ob­server.

While the lion-tailed macaques are no longer on dis­play at the zoo, I still have fond mem­o­ries of them.

I am also look­ing for­ward to see­ing the re­vamped zoo (it will be closed for 10 days start­ing Mon­day to pre­pare for the open­ing of the Jour­ney to Churchill ex­hibit) when it re­opens July 3. When I visit the zoo and re­flect on how much has changed, I can look for­ward to the new mem­o­ries I will be mak­ing. Rachel Ines is the com­mu­ni­ca­tions co-or­di­na­tor at the Cen­tre on Ag­ing, Univer­sity of Man­i­toba. When she’s not en­joy­ing the out­doors at the park, she’s en­joy­ing the quiet

sum­mer days on cam­pus.

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