Calgary Zoo on St. George's Island
|Location|| Calgary, Alberta
|Land area||0.3 km2 (0.12 sq mi)|
|Number of animals||Over 1,000|
|Number of species||290|
|Memberships||WAZA, AZA, CAZA|
The Calgary Zoo is located in Bridgeland, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, just east of the city's downtown and adjacent to the Inglewood and East Village neighbourhoods. It is accessible via Calgary's C-Train light rail system, by car via Memorial Drive and by bicycle and footpath via the Bow River pathway. A large portion of the zoo is located on St. George's Island in the Bow River.
The zoo is operated by the Calgary ZoologicalSociety, an independent no-for-profit organization that is Alberta’s oldest registered charity. The AZA, WAZA, and CAZA accredited zoo was among the first in Canada to be accredited by all three associations. It is home to almost 800 animals, excluding individual fish and insects, and 120 different species.
The Calgary Zoo is the second largest zoo in Canada and in 2012 was the nation's most visited zoo. The animal exhibits are organized by geographic region, including Destination Africa, Canadian Wilds, Penguin Plunge, Dorothy Harvie Botanical Gardens and ENMAX Conservatory, Eurasia and Prehistoric Park. The zoo is open every day except for Christmas Day.
St. George’s Island was Calgary’s first park, used by the community for picnics, relaxing and socializing. The first collection of animals appeared on the island in 1917. The Calgary Zoological Society was established in 1929.
Destination Africa opened in 2003 to include two new facilities The TransAlta Rain Forest and the African Savannah. The zoo opened Penguin Plunge, an Arctic/Antarctic penguin addition in 2012.
In April 2013, the Calgary Zoo announced a master plan for rebuilding the zoo over the next 20 years. In the plan’s first phase, leading to the arrival of two giant pandas in 2018, the zoo said it will spend $162 million on at least 36 projects. In December 2013, the zoo announced that it would add komodo dragons and greater one-horned rhinoceros to its collection in 2014.
The Calgary Zoo suffered extensive flooding in June 2013 resulting in over $50 million in damage to land, property and disrupted operations (see 2013 Alberta floods). The zoo was closed for most of July; the northern 60 acres of the zoo reopened to the public for August through November. Over 300 employees were laid off and the South American exhibit was permanently closed with 34 individual animals relocated to other homes. The zoo fully reopened in November 2013.
- Educating visitors about conservation
With many endangered and at-risk animals in its care at the zoo, the Calgary Zoo uses a team of educators including animal keepers, interpreters, teachers, and volunteers to inform visitors about the learn about the beauty of nature and threats to wildlife – both flora and fauna. Formal programs connect with more than 575,000 adults and children annually.
The Calgary Zoo is home to the Centre for Conservation Research, where a team of biologists have earned international recognition as North America’s leaders in the science of species recovery and reintroduction. The April 2013 issue of the prestigious science journal Nature rated the Calgary Zoo as one of the top five zoos in the world for conservation research, ranking alongside New York, San Diego, Frankfurt and London. In June 2012 the head of the Centre for Conservation Research, Dr. Axel Moehrenschlager, was awarded the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Roland Michener Conservation Award which recognizes individuals who have shown a commitment to “promote, enhance and further the conservation of Canada’s natural resources”. In November 2013, Dr. Moehrenschlager was appointed co-chair of the Reintroduction Specialist Group within the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the world’s largest conservation network. He is the first North American to hold this position.
The zoo has a number of in-situ conservation projects across Canada and around the world that it supports, including
- Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary, Ghana
- Vancouver Island Marmot Recovery
- Swift Fox Recovery on the Canadian Prairies
- Snow leopards in Central Asia
- Gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo
- Destination Africa
Opened in 2003, the Destination Africa project was among the zoo's most ambitious expansions. The complex of four buildings includes the TransAlta Rainforest and the African Savannah. The TransAlta Rainforest occupies 2,900 square metres (31,000 square feet) and features a collection of African rainforest flora and fauna. The African Savannah building is home to hippos, giraffes, Red River Hogs, and a baobab tree. A 340,000-litre (80,000-gallon) indoor pool for hippos offers view of the creatures underwater. In the warmer months, the doors lift to connect the building with the rest of the Savannah exhibit, home to zebras and ostriches. Many other animals of the grasslands, including African lions, also reside in the Savannah exhibit.
- Canadian Wilds
The Canadian Wilds were built in the 1990s to house the majority of zoo's collection of North American birds and mammals. The area includes outdoor enclosures in three zones: the Aspen Woodlands, the Northern Forest, and the Rocky Mountains. Animals in the enclosures include grizzly bears, wood bison, and wolves.
- Dorothy Harvie Botanical Gardens and ENMAX Conservatory
The outdoor gardens are among the zoo's most popular attractions and include the Dorothy Harvie Gardens. The zoo's sheltered location supports many marginally hardy plant species. The conservatory comprises the indoor component of the zoo's gardens. It includes a number of "themed" areas such as the tropical garden, the rainforest, the arid garden, and the butterfly garden. A number of animals including birds and invertebrates are housed in the conservatory. The ENMAX Conservatory was completely renovated in 2009 and features an increased emphasis on teaching visitors the importance of plants and improving energy efficiency. The Calgary Zoo achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold in energy conservation and responsible building practices, the first facility of its kind to achieve this level of certification.
The western portion of St. George's Island is dedicated to Eurasian animals. Animals in this area include Amur (Siberian) tigers, snow leopards, alpine ibex, Japanese macaques, red pandas and Asian elephants.
- Prehistoric Park
The Calgary Zoo's Prehistoric Park features life-sized dinosaurs in their re-created geographical environment. This exhibit was renovated and reopened in 2010. The Park also includes replicas of an inland sea and volcanic mountain, and more than 100 species of living plants. Dinosaurs include Albertosaurus, Allosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Apatosaurus, Baryonyx, Centrosaurus, Corythosaurus, Deinonychus, Dilophosaurus, Edmontosaurus, Elasmosaurus, Euoplocephalus, Iguanodon, Metriacanthosaurus, Nothosaurus, Omeisaurus, Pachyrhinosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Protoceratops, Pteranodon, Pterosaur, Stegosaurus, Struthiomimus, Styracosaurus, Tanystropheus, Triceratops, Tylosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex and Yangchuanosaurus.
- Penguin Plunge
Penguin plunge opened spring 2012 and is located at the entrance of the Calgary zoo. The exhibit includes king, humboldt, gentoo and rockhopper. Penguin plunge consists of two main areas. The indoor area and the outdoor. In the summer time the outdoor exhibit holds the more tropical living [humboldt penguin] and in the winter it holds the opposite. In addition a new larger gift shop was also added.
Zoolights is a Christmas lights festival held annually at the Calgary Zoo. It closes only on Christmas Day. The month-long, animal-themed show features more than one million lights and is the largest seasonal light show in Western Canada.
- Dinosaurs Alive
In 2010, Calgary Zoo’s Prehistoric Park hosted Dinosaurs Alive, an interactive and multi-sensory traveling exhibit that showcased 20 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs in addition to the existing dinosaur models throughout Prehistoric Park.
In November 2010, the Calgary Zoo hired respected animal welfare academic Dr. Jake Veasey to lead and revamp its approach to animal care. http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2010/11/20/16235026.html
Following a series of high profile incidents in 2008 and 2009, some commentators criticized the zoo's conduct and operations.
Past incidents cited included:
- A knife was accidentally left in the western lowland gorilla enclosure.
- On November 17, 2004 an Asian elephant was born at the zoo. She was rejected by her mother and died within 3 weeks of her birth of an overwhelming infection, despite the efforts of zoo keepers and veterinarians. She was given the name, Keemaya, after her death. In August 2007, another Asian elephant, Malti, was born. Malti contracted elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus, a serious and invariably fatal virus October 31, and died on November 1, 2008 despite treatment.
- In May 2008, forty cow-nosed rays died from low blood oxygen levels. An error by the contractor in designing the system lead to the problem.
- In January 2009, a two-year-old male Turkmenian Markhor died after becaming entangled in an exhibit play toy.
- A hippopotamus succumbed to circulatory complications after being transferred from the Denver Zoo.
- In September 2010, Calgary Zoo staff announced the overnight death of a second tiger cub born earlier in the week to a Siberian tiger. Zookeepers weren't aware that Katja, the 10-year-old mother, was expecting, saying it's hard to detect pregnancy in tigers. Katja didn't nurse her young. Zoo staff noticed her carrying the first kitten in her mouth, which is likely how it died. The zoo's veterinary team says the both Siberian tiger cubs suffered similar head trauma.
- On December 11, an 18-month old female capybara died instantly after being crushed by a hydraulic door operated by a worker who wasn't following proper safely protocols.
The zoo's director said all the incidents are unrelated. An independent review was solicited by the zoo in December 2009 and was conducted by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The report, released in 2010, spotlighted systemic problems. In response the zoo developed a 36-point plan that included improving animal care procedures and collection planning, addressing staffing issues like training and structure, enhancing security systems and safety drills, and upgrading aging zoo infrastructure. Later that year, the zoo hired noted animal welfare specialist Dr. Jake Veasey who has since instituted major changes and spearheaded new investment in animal facilities.
Recent notable animal births
In March 2012, three Amur tiger cubs were born at the zoo; the species is classified as endangered, at last count there were only about 350 Amur tigers worldwide. A giraffe named Richard was born in late November 2007 and has been doing well. Also on March 21, 2007 a new baby Siberian tiger was born. Its name is Vitali.On May 15, 2008, a baby gorilla was born to Zuri. Zookeepers looked through more than 1,400 entries for the baby's name, and on July 2, she was given the name Yewande (Yu-wan-day), a Nigerian name that would be given to a girl after the death of an elder in the family. Her name was selected by Calgarian Justin Brouwer. On February 13, 2009, a Colobus monkey gave birth; this offspring became the first to be born at the Calgary Zoo. In 2012, the zoo’s female Amur tiger Katja gave birth to three cubs. The species is so highly endangered, the births represented a 1% jump in the global population. In 2014, it became necessary to separate Vasili and Samkha, the two male tiger cubs, now almost full grown, from sister Kira and mom Katja (12 years old). Based on the Species Survival Plan recommendation, which manages genetics for future breeding, they were moved to Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Calgary Zoo.|
- Calgary Zoo - 2005 Report
- "Zoos and Aquariums of the World". waza.org. World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
- "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". aza.org. Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
- "Members' Directory, Accredited Institution". caza.ca. Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
- "Hundreds of City Homes Menaced by Rivers", The Calgary Herald, June 3, 1929
- Calgary Sun article accessed 2 Jul 2013
- Dinosaurs Alive
- "Lack of oxygen killed stingrays, Calgary Zoo admits". CBC News. 2009-02-03. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
- [Calgary Zoo announces death of tiger cub from head injuries]
- CBC News (December 14, 2009). "Critics question Calgary Zoo probe". Retrieved 2010-03-18.