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Adventures at the Calgary Zoo

The Calgary Zoo, located just east of the downtown core in the neighbourhood of Bridgeland, straddles the banks of the Bow River and occupies St George’s Island, enabling it to present a diverse and varied layout.

Established in 1929, the Zoo has been regarded as one of the top 5 zoos in the world, according to the science journal Nature.  This 30-hectare (74-acre) biosphere welcomes ~1.5 million visitors per year. It is Calgary’s #1 tourist attraction and home to over 700 animals and 100 species.

Photo by Adam King on Unsplash

The Zoo hosts a wide range of habitats and destinations, including:

  • Canadian Wilds is made up of 3 zones: the Aspen Woodlands, the Northern Forest and the Rocky Mountains, depicting some authentic local inhabitants in their near-natural surroundings;
  • Destination Africa included the TransAlta rainforest and African Savannah, housed in four buildings;
  • Eurasia is home to several Eurasian animals;
  • Penguin Plunge is home to a variety of penguins housed in indoor and outdoor pools;
  • Land of Lemurs features a selection of lemurs;
  • Prehistoric Park is a 2.4-hectare (6-acre) parcel of ground featuring life-sized dinosaurs in their reconstructed natural habitat;
  • Conservatory and Gardens include the gorgeous outdoor gardens as well as the indoor tropical garden, rainforest, arid garden and butterfly garden;
  • Panda Passage is the newest addition to the Zoo and has been a massive success and attraction. You can read more and even watch these elusive beauties here via the Zoo’s webcams.
Marvel at the Giant Pandas | Photo by Ying Wu on Unsplash
Meerkats in Destination Africa | Photo by Wayne Godfrey on Unsplash

The Zoo hosts numerous special events throughout the year. One of the most enchanting is the seasonal Zoo Lights event for one month over the Christmas season, reputed to be one of the largest seasonal light shows in Western Canada.

Photo courtesy of Calgary Outdoor Club

Several concession vendors and kiosks are available on the premises for buying snacks, refreshments or a meal.

Various annual membership options are available to residents that are worthwhile exploring.

Getting there

The Calgary Zoo is accessible by car, taxi, public transit (bus), and bicycle.

Navigate to the Zoo using Google maps here.

  • For public transit (bus) access, you can plan your visit using the City of Calgary transit website;
  • For C-train access, catch the blue line to the northeast (destination Saddletown). Disembark at the Zoo station.
  • If you are arriving in your own vehicle, paid parking is available at the main zoo parking lot at 210 St Georges Drive NE. Consult local signage or calgaryparking.com for other options;
  • If you are arriving by bicycle, consult the City of Calgary’s bicycle pathway maps here. Bike racks are available at numerous locations near the zoo entrances. For security reasons, remember to bring your own bicycle lock. Consider including the zoo in your itinerary during one of our favourite downtown cycle circuits.

Featured image courtesy of Toronto Photo Club

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