When I began researching options for our visit to Calgary, multiple friends told us to visit the Calgary Zoo. My middle child is obsessed with animals, so if there’s an opportunity for him to get up close and see funny and furry creatures, we usually take it.
We’ve been to our fair share of Zoos. We even have a local conservation site near our home town that we pop by every now and then. But we were very impressed with the Calgary Zoo! In fact, I’d say it was the best we’ve been to in all of Canada!
Unlike most, this Zoo was smack dab in the middle of the city of Calgary. It’s actually on an island and very easy to access. From the moment we walked through the doors we were struck by how beautifully the park was landscaped. The buildings were well maintained and clean, the staff were available everywhere to answer questions and there was a ton of signage. There were lots of bathrooms around that had change tables and family rooms for more privacy. We could tell this place was loved and cared for – always an encouraging thing to see!
What You’ll See at the Calgary Zoo
The Calgary Zoo is broken up into different destinations which helps you break up your visit. We started at the Penguin Plunge zone near the entrance, which offered both indoor and outdoor viewing areas of various kinds of penguins. From there we wandered over to the Canadian Wilds where we saw Bighorn Sheep scaling cliffs and Bison grazing on grass. There was also a massive Grizzly Bear, which came right up to the fence and stared us down from only a few feet away!
In Eurasia we saw Tigers, Red pandas, and a Snow leopard. And in Africa we saw both male and female Lions, Giraffes, Hippos, and a Mommy Gorilla with her little baby. We also wandered through the Butterfly Conservatory where the kids were able to not only hold a butterfly, but see the pupae hanging in an incubator before working on it’s transformation!
All of these zones are connected by pathways, restaurants, rest areas and play zones. This means you don’t have to circle back at any point and can continue on with your day.
If you’re looking to learn more about the animals you’re seeing, the Calgary Zoo offers many educational opportunities. Things like animal feedings and keeper talks happen through out the day. Simply check the daily schedule when you first arrive! They also offer classes for everyone from preschoolers, to high school, to distance education! You can check their website for more information and see what may be a fit for your group!
Conservation is a huge passion of the Calgary Zoo. In fact, they’re recognized across the world for the wonderful work they do with various species! They’ve partnered with recognizable brands like Husky, Parks Canada, Canadian Wildlife Federation, and more!
How Much Time Do You Need?
How much time you’ll need for your visit will greatly depend on the ages of your children and what you hope to get out of your day. We spent about three and a half hours at the Calgary Zoo, but easily could have spent a few more.
We didn’t even see the Prehistoric Park and didn’t spend a ton of time enjoying the various playgrounds and restaurants. There were a lot of grassy and picnic areas too if you want to pack a lunch. The price of membership is actually quite affordable if you’re local and would give you the opportunity to visit through out the year and enjoy it at a more leisurely pace.
If you find yourself traveling to Calgary with your family, make sure you plan to spend at least half a day at this Zoo. Your kids will love it!