The Calgary Zoo is getting bigger - much bigger
Michael Franklin, CTV Calgary
Published Thursday, April 25, 2013 11:09AM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 25, 2013 6:27PM MDT
The Calgary Zoo, the city’s most visited tourist attraction, will be looking like a much different place in 20 years, says Clement Lanthier, president and CEO.
On Thursday, zoo officials announced details about the facility’s most ambitious redevelopment plan in its history.
“We intend to build a zoo that will lead the world in animal welfare while immersing our guests in experiences that will inspire a new appreciation for wildlife and wild places,” Lanthier said in a release.
The first phase of development leads up to the arrival of the giant pandas in 2018 and includes $162M in spending on 36 different projects.
The zoo is planning to renovate the space currently housing their elephants to accommodate the giant pandas.
The giant pandas will be at the park from 2018 to 2023, at which time they’ll be replaced by orangutans.
Other developments expected over the next five years include a fully-immersive lemur exhibit, an interactive African village in Destination Africa, and making the first steps to phasing out Prehistoric Park to make room for a new home for endangered Japanese snow monkeys and a new species native to China and northern India, takin.
The second phase of development, spanning 15 years after that, will see a complete revamp of the west end of the park.
In that time, the final sections of Prehistoric Park will be retired for a larger tiger habitat and a 65,000 square foot Tropical House will be added to the area.
Capping off the proposed development will be a complete rebuild of the Canadian Wilds and will see a return of some of Canada’s most iconic species, seals and polar bears.
Lanthier says that the complete rebuild of the Canadian Wilds will include a special section made up of three flexible habitats devoted to all of Canada’s native bear populations called In the Company of Bears.
“Polar bears are an important part of our Canadian landscape – they are iconic and majestic – but the sad reality is that they are facing huge environmental challenges,” explained Lanthier. “All indications from international experts are that within 10 to 20 years there will be a great need for institutions like the Calgary Zoo to tell the story of the polar bear and help preserve them in sufficient numbers to ensure genetic diversity until we can find the solutions to those challenges.”
Officials say that about 50 percent of the zoo’s visitors come from out-of-town, making the Calgary Zoo the most visited zoo in Canada and Calgary’s premier attraction.