Colourful ground squirrels are poking up all over Calgary parks to celebrate Canada’s 150th.
A total of 150 Richardson’s ground squirrel figures, each painted in one of the official colours of the Canada 150 logo, are being installed at parks and cemeteries throughout the city.
The ground squirrels were originally designed by landscape architect Kristina Meehan-Prins to celebrate Calgary Parks’ 100th anniversary in 2010.
The pink installation I’m really not a Gopher was so popular with Calgarians that the city decided to bring them back in rainbow colours this May to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.
The rainbow figures will be in place until spring 2018. Each ground squirrel will be “accessorized” for important milestones throughout the year, including the Stampede and Canada Day.
There are currently 100 figures at Olympic Plaza. Another 50 will be installed in other city parks such as Bowness Park, Prince’s Island Park, Riley Park, Carburn Park, Prairie Winds Park, North Glenmore Park and local cemeteries.
Why ground squirrels
Richardson’s ground squirrels are native to short grass prairies, like those found in Calgary, and are integral members of the prairie ecosystem.
Their burrows create protected habitat for other prairie species such as burrowing owls, salamanders and bumblebees, and they are a food source for hawks and many other carnivores.
“If they were exterminated, other species native to the prairie habitat would be affected, and well, Calgary just wouldn’t be the same without them!” parks said in a statement.