The ‘Storyland Valley Zoo’ was leading edge in 1959. Times have changed. Today, the Edmonton Valley Zoo has gone from a 5-acre petting zoo featuring storybook characters to a 21st century centre of learning, research and conversation.

Much has changed since 1959 and prevailing attitudes towards zoo and exhibit design are no exception. The Edmonton Valley Zoo has re-calibrated its overall vision to align with these broader shifts in zoological culture and now aspires to be a global leader in conservation, education and environmental stewardship. As the primary focus of children’s activity within the Zoo, Nature’s Wild Backyard will be one of the primary enablers of the Zoo’s overall aspiration of positioning itself as a leader in these areas.

Click on the image above for a downloadable brochure detailing the phases of Nature’s Wild Backyard and what you can do to help!



2016 — Designs will be finalized and existing structures will be demolished

2017 to 2018 — Construction of Urban Farm and the Red Panda Exhibit

2019 to 2021 — Construction of the Above, Between and Under zones, and the Yard

BUDGET: $45 million

The design for Nature’s Wild Backyard is situated exactly at the intersection of environmental stewardship and a child’s thirst for knowledge and wonder. It will embrace interactive play and discovery, immersing kids in a unique environment in which they can intimately relate to the animals and environment that they are experiencing.

The zones of Nature’s Wild Backyard will allow our visitors to experience the world in the same manner as the animals that inhabit it:  Above, Between, On, Under and Urban Farm.



OPENED: 2012

BUDGET: $16.7 million, including $7 million from the Government of Alberta

Home of the Harbor Seals, Northern Fur Seals, Arctic Foxes, and Ground Squirrels! Arctic Shores is the first installment of Polar Extremes and replicates an Arctic shoreline.

Located in the open area west of the Zoo’s entrance, Arctic Shores allows guests to get closer to animals and nature. The learning experience includes a pingo for exploration (a unique arctic land formation) and a whale bone play structure for climbing. The new indoor/outdoor pool is a marvel for the seals and our visitors alike.

Arctic Shores is also home to the arctic foxes and ground squirrels.

As part of a commitment to the environment, Arctic Shores includes many sustainable features – ones that will meet the Zoo’s needs while protecting the environment and leaving an affordable legacy. Some of these features include:

  • Green roof to minimize storm-water runoff
  • Capturing stormwater and treating it on site using streams and a salt water marsh
  • Treating the water in the seal pool on site with a combination of mechanical equipment and natural wetlands so it can be reused in the animals aquatic home
  • Drought tolerant landscaping
  • Dark sky compliant exterior lighting
  • Use of reclaimed wood in building construction

For more information, please visit The Edmonton Valley Zoo.



OPENED: 2013

BUDGET: $34 million

The arrival experience to the Edmonton Valley Zoo has changed dramatically with the construction of the new Entry. The Entry Plaza provides easy and direct access to all of the zoo’s exhibit precincts.

Included in the plaza is a new Education Centre, which includes interpretive classrooms and multi-purpose spaces. The Entry Plaza also contains all the guest services: information, washrooms, ticket purchase windows, café, Zoo Store, administrative offices, and the new otter exhibit.

In line with Edmonton’s vision to build smarter and with sustainable principles in mind, the zoo’s building takes advantage of natural light and air ventilation. Its features celebrate and harness green technologies that leave a small ecological footprint on the natural systems and wild places that the zoo is working so hard to conserve.

The Wander is the Edmonton Valley Zoo’s new central corridor that houses and interprets the plants and small animals of Alberta’s North Saskatchewan River Valley while providing opportunities for pubic education, shelter, transportation, and relaxation. The Wander serves as the main public pathway to new exhibit areas such as the recently completed Arctic Shores exhibit. There is also be a new river otter habitat in the entry plaza.

There is a water feature that allows children to interact with glacial melt-water, and play features along the river’s path.

The Wander will help to shape the future zoo. As it moves from the great heights of the Rocky Mountains, falling swiftly from stone-filled mountain streams and pools, through wetlands and cobbled rivulets, to the gentle meanders of the Aspen Parkland’s and prairies of Alberta, this trail will be framed by the imposing story of Alberta’s natural history and the flora, fauna that have come to live in and shape this region.

The Wander provides ample room for guests to unhurriedly stroll through great mixed species native landscapes, enjoy engaging sculpture and art, picnic in the shade of large groves of Aspen trees, and observe free-range live animals. Each thematic area will be differentiated not only by the plantings and the interaction with water but also through the use of interpretive elements.





In the longer term, the revitalization plan will further develop Polar Extremes by beginning construction on Phase 2. Phase 2 will feature other polar habitats including the ecosystem of Antarctica.


It is through today’s zoos that future generations will come to a greater understanding of the human impact on the natural world and be motivated to preserve it and reverse the damage already done. Every donation, big or small, helps us revitalize our beloved Edmonton Valley Zoo! Thank you for caring for the animals, our children’s future and the planet!