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Te Papa Tongarewa Exhibit on Whales to End International Tour in Ottawa

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (February 29, 2012) /Marketwire/ — On March 2, 2012, the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN) opens Whales Tohora: The Exhibition, an internationally touring exhibition from the New Zealand Museum Te Papa Tongarewa. Interactive and immersive, Whales Tohora brings adults and children eye to eye with some of the world’s most elusive creatures.

Rich with real skeletons, life-sized recreations, specimens, artifacts and multimedia, this exhibition inspires awe and respect for whales through a unique blend of science, storytelling and cultural links. It will be on view at the Canadian Museum of Nature for six months until September 3, 2012, and arrives in Canada following a successful run at the Field Museum in Chicago.

“As a national research and educational institution, the Canadian Museum of Nature is delighted to offer this rare opportunity to gain new insights about whales through the collections of a leading international museum,” said Meg Beckel, CEO and President of the Canadian Museum of Nature. “We will continue to give Canadians the opportunity to connect with and be inspired by the natural world by presenting respected exhibitions and programmes such as Whales Tohora.”

Featuring a massive 17.8 metre fully articulated sperm whale skeleton, Whales Tohora showcases unique specimens from Te Papa’s marine mammal collection, one of the largest in the world. Visitors will see life-size and scale models of whales common to the South Pacific, and come to understand the two main groups of whales, toothed and baleen. Whalebone treasures such as weapons and adornments produced by the indigenous peoples of New Zealand reflect the exhibition’s cultural expression of the relationship between the Maori and whales.

“Whales Tohora proved hugely popular with both adults and children when we launched it in New Zealand back in 2007, so we are pleased to provide international audiences with the opportunity to benefit from our collections to learn more about whales,’ said Dr. Seddon Bennington, Te Papa’s Chief Executive.

The exhibition’s Whale Lab is full of interactive science. Children can crawl through a life-size replica of the largest living creature’s heart – the blue whale. The evolutionary journey of whales from land to the sea is shown by casts of fossil whale ancestors. Visitors can tune in to a range of whale sounds and discover how scientists and amateur trackers identify individual whales on their migration through the Pacific Ocean. The Whale Lab also features ‘Search & Destroy’, an experience that takes visitors to the ocean depths on a hunt for a giant squid, recreated from authentic data and sounds collected from a real sperm whale.

The intricacies of whale biology and the history of whaling in New Zealand are examined through the voices of scientists, conservationists, former whalers, and the Maori. The exhibition also examines threats facing whales, such as fishing nets, foreign debris, predators and boats, explains why whales strand themselves, and what can be done about it.

For centuries, the people of the South Pacific have interacted with whales. Whales Tohora brings their stories alive through videos and a moving film experience, alongside a model whale head from the 2002 movie Whale Rider. The film tells the stories of three whale-riding traditions in New Zealand, including the famous story of Paikea. The story of the chief Tinirau and his pet whale, Tutunui, is a tale of love and revenge recognized throughout the South Pacific and brought to life in a stunning stand-alone animated movie.

“We are delighted to partner with the Canadian Museum of Nature to support this unique show,” said Wade Luzny, CEO-Executive Vice President of the Canadian Wildlife Federation, which is actively involved in the conservation of Canada’s marine environment and the diverse life that depends on it as part of its ongoing Marine Program. “As Canada is surrounded by three oceans and stewards 243,000 km of coastline, we hope that this breathtaking exhibition provides a forum to inspire conservation through education.”

To engage visitors, the CMN will be supplementing the exhibition with educational programmes about oceans and marine themes throughout March Break and the summer tourist season. Other activities for adults include Café Scientifique evenings on the last Friday of every month, and a special whale trivia night on Oceans Day, June 7, 2012.
Visit the web site, for details. 


The Canadian Museum of Nature is Canada’s national museum of natural history and natural sciences. It promotes awareness of Canada’s natural heritage through signature and travelling exhibitions, public education programmes, on-going scientific research, a dynamic web site and the maintenance of a 10.5 million-specimen collection. A founding member of the Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada, the museum is working with partners to expand its national service and to develop national programmes about the natural environment.
Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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