Beaver pays surprise visit to Stanley Park gift shop

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      One of Canada's largest rodents waddled up to pay a surprise daylight visit to a Stanley Park gift shop yesterday (April 7).

      Staff and visitors of the Legends of the Moon gift shop, located near the popular park's oceanside totem poles by the Brockton Point Visitor Centre, were startled to see the semi-aquatic mammal so far away from its natural freshwater habitat.

      Pictures of the curious herbivore, an official emblem of Canada, were posted by gift-shop staff on the business's Instagram account with the comment, "Even the smart #beaver knows where the best places to shop are." A gift-shop spokesperson was not available to comment when the Straight called (April 8).

      According the the City of Vancouver, Stanley Park's aptly named Beaver Lake hosts at least five beavers now after an absence of about 60 years, the first of which made itself at home there in 2008. 

      It was joined by another a few years later, and the lake now boasts a beaver family and lodge. The population has expanded to Lost Lagoon in recent years, where, according to the Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES), there were two pairs in 2019 and at least one lodge.

      Beavers eat lily pads in the spring and summer, as well as ferns, grasses, cattails, and other plants. Lily pads were introduced to Beaver Lake in 1938, when the Stanley Park Causeway was built, bisecting the park. Today, the surface of Beaver Lake becomes covered with lily pads during the summer months.

      A typical North American beaver lodge.
      Wikimeda Commons/Bridesmill

      Young additions to the park's beaver population are sometimes seen in the spring, when territory-seeking newcomers make their way down from Fraser River watershed lakes or the North Shore.

      Legends of the Moon gift shop, Stanley Park.
      Legends of the Moon

      North American beavers (Castor canadensis) are usually nocturnal, being seen most frequently by people at dusk and dawn. They normally go about their busy business at night in order to avoid predators, including coyotes, of which there are an estimated half-dozen to a dozen in Stanley Park.