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No sign of marauding otter as surviving koi wait to return to Sun Yat-Sen garden




The otter’s reign of terror is over, hopefully for good. 

The river otter that’s been eating prized koi at Vancouver’s Dr. Sun Yat-San Classical Chinese Garden hasn’t been seen since Saturday. 

“We feel that Elvis has left the building and he is no longer on site … or she,” said Howard Norman, the director of parks, at a news conference on Thursday morning.

A few minutes later, at 10 a.m. PT, the usually tranquil attraction reopened as City of Vancouver staff worked to otter-proof the garden with metal grates, bars and tighter-closing automatic doors.

“We hope that will prevent the otter or any of its friends from coming back into the garden,” said Norman.

An invading otter rippled the waters of this oasis garden in downtown Vancouver. Cameras have been installed to make sure it’s safe to return the surviving koi to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Harden ponds. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

Park staff suspect the river otter came from False Creek. For more than a week park staff tried to trap the otter, but failed.

Wildlife experts also failed to corner the wily member of the weasel family.

Even six tuna-baited traps didn’t work, as it turned out the otter preferred live prey.

“I wouldn’t call it a battle,” said Norman.

But the flat-headed beast was spotted and photographed crossing Hastings Street in the dark a few times as it returned to the walled garden to hunt for koi in the ponds.

It managed to eat 11 of the culturally significant fish in the historic garden before city staff were forced to drain the ponds and remove the surviving fish.

A city worker reinforces the metal grate of a walled garden in downtown Vancouver to try to keep hungry otters out. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

New hope

Vincent Kwan, executive director of the walled garden park, said as the water drained, there was renewed hope.

Staff were surprised to find 344 juvenile koi in the murky ponds, ensuring a future for the prized fish which are symbolic of perseverance, strength and transformation.

But among those eaten was a 50-year-old fish named Madonna.

“We didn’t find Madonna, so more than likely Madonna is no longer with us,” said Norman.

Vincent Kwan, executive director of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden park, said nobody expected an otter to invade the ponds and eat their prized koi. They were also surprised by the international attention the saga of the indigenous otter and ornamental koi touched off on social media. (Yvette Brend)

Lost fish

Kwan said the whole ordeal was unexpected, although #OtterWatch2018 did attract positive attention to the garden worldwide.

But, he said, the loss of the precious fish, especially Madonna, made a lot of people very sad.

“It’s very emotional,” said Kwan.

For now the surviving koi that were pulled from the pond earlier this week are being kept at the Vancouver Aquarium until it’s deemed safe for their return.

And cameras will be installed for awhile, just to make sure the coast is clear.

Because this otter has fooled people before.

The Sun Yat-Sen koi in their new home

The surviving koi are being kept at the Vancouver Aquarium until it’s deemed safe to return. 0:31


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The ‘Maple Majestic’ wants to be Canada’s homegrown Tesla




Look out Tesla, Canada has a homegrown electric sedan on the way. Well, that’s if AK International Motor Corporation can drum up enough investment to make its EV a reality. Dubbed the “Maple Majestic,” the vehicle is a battery-electric designed to “excel in extreme climate performance without adversely affecting the climate, as befits a vehicle from Canada,” according to its website.

What’s in a name? — The company says the maple leaf is a “symbol of Canada’s warmth and friendliness towards all cultures,” while “majestic” refers to the country’s “status as a Constitutional Monarchy.”

That patriotism carries over into Maple Majestic’s parent company’s lofty goals. AK Motor founder Arkadiusz Kaminski says he wants the company, which he founded in 2012, to become “Canada’s first multi-brand automotive OEM,” and that the “Maple Majestic is intended to be Canada’s flagship brand of automobiles on the world stage.”

Partnerships are key — “We acknowledge that the best chance for the Maple Majestic brand to succeed, lies in continuing to build the relationship with Canada’s parts suppliers and technological innovators, whether they be academic institutions, corporations, or individual inventors,” the company explains. “We are currently seeking partners in automotive engineering, parts manufacturing, automotive assembly, electric propulsion technology, battery technology, autonomous technology, and hybrid power generation technology.”

In other words, don’t expect to be able to buy a Maple Majestic any time soon… and don’t expect to pour over 0-60 mph times, power output, range, or other key stats, because those don’t currently exist. For now, all we have are pictures and a short video clip. But at least those are arresting.

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PE-backed Quorum Software to merge with Canadian energy tech firm




Houston-based energy technology company Quorum Software will merge with a Canadian tech firm to bolster its presence in oil and gas services.

Quorum announced Feb. 15 it plans to merge with Calgary, Alberta-based Aucerna, a global provider of planning, execution and reserves software for the energy sector. The combined firm will operate under the Quorum Software brand.

Gene Austin, CEO of Quorum Software, will continue in his capacity as chief executive of the combined firm. Austin, former CEO of Austin-based marketing tech firm Bazaarvoice Inc., became CEO of Quorum in December 2018.

Aucerna co-founder and CEO Wayne Sim will be appointed to the Quorum Software board of directors. Both companies are backed by San Francisco- and Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

“Over the last 20 years, Quorum has become the leading innovator of software deployed by North American energy companies,” said Austin. “Today, Quorum is expanding the scope of our technology and expertise to all energy-producing regions of the globe. Customers everywhere will have access to a cloud technology ecosystem that connects decision-ready data from operations to the boardroom.”

In addition to the merger announcement, Quorum Software announced it had entered into an agreement with Finnish IT firm TietoEvry to purchase TietoEvry’s entire oil and gas business. The agreement, which includes hydrocarbon management, personnel and material logistics software and related services, is valued at 155 million euros, or $188 million, according to a statement from TietoEvry.

“Our three organizations complement each other — from the software that our great people design to the energy markets where we operate,” said Sim. “Our new company will be able to deliver value to our stakeholders, while accelerating the growth of our combined business and the energy industry’s software transformation.”

The combined company will serve over 1,800 energy companies in 55 countries, according to the announcement. With its headquarters in Houston, Quorum will continue to have a significant presence in Calgary and in Norway, the headquarters for TietoEvry’s oil and gas software business. Quorum will have other offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As of Sept. 30, 2020, private equity firm Thoma Bravo had more than $73 billion in assets under management. In late December 2020, Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire Richardson, Texas-based tech firm RealPage in a roughly $10 billion acquisition.

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Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover




KITCHENER — A piece of Kitchener technology has landed on Mars, thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The rover settled on the planet’s surface on Thursday afternoon. It’s been travelling through space since it was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in July.

“The whole idea of being on a device that we’re sending to another plant with the express mission of looking for traces of past life, it’s pretty mind boggling actually,” said Rafal Pawluczyk, chief technical officer for FiberTech Optica.

The Kitchener-based company made fibre optic cables for the rover’s SuperCam that will examine samples with a camera, laser and spectrometers.

“The cables that we built take the light from that multiplexer and deliver it to each spectrograph,” Pawluczyk said.

The cables connect a device on the rover to the SuperCam, which will be used to examine rock and soil samples, to spectrometers. They’ll relay information from one device to another.

The project started four years ago with a connection to Los Alamos National Lab, where the instruments connected to the cables were developed.

“We could actually demonstrate we can design something that will meet their really hard engineering requirements,” Pawluczyk said.

The Jezero Crater is where the Perseverance rover, with FiberTech Optica’s technology onboard, landed Thursday. Scientists believe it was once flooded with water and is the best bet for finding any evidence of life. FiberTech’s cables will help that in that search.

Ioannis Haranas, an astrophysicist and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the rover isn’t looking for “green men.”

“They’re looking for microbial, single-cell life, any type of fossils and stuff like that,” Haranas said. “That’s why they chose a special landing site. This could be very fertile land for that.”

“It’s very ambitious,” said Ralf Gellert, a physics professor at the University of Guelph.

Gellert helped with previous rover missions and said it’s the first time a Mars rover has landed without a piece of Guelph technology on it. While he’s not part of Perseverance’s mission, he said the possibilities are exciting.

“Every new landing site is a new piece of the puzzle that you can put together with the new results that we have from the other landing sites,” he said.

“It’s scientifically very interesting because, even though we don’t have an instrument on that rover, we can compare what the new rover Perseverance finds at this new landing site,” he said.

Now that Perseverance has landed on Mars, FiberTech is looking ahead to its next possible mission into space.

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