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.
NATURE’S WILD BACKYARD
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.
ENTRY & WANDER
PROJECT STAGE: Completed
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.
The Valley Zoo Development Society is constantly helping raise funds to upgrade existing exhibits at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. Here are a few of our completed projects:
The zoos new veterinary hospital has been completed. The new facility includes a treatment clinic, a surgery room, quarantine facilities, and a laboratory. The Valley Zoo Development Society contributed $150,000 to this project.
NEW PERIMETER FENCE
A new perimeter fence, approximately 10 feet tall, replaced the existing wooden fence along Buena Vista Drive and the zoo parking lot. The budget includes landscaping and other improvements.
BIGHORN SHEEP ENCLOSURE
The Bighorn Sheep Enclosure saw updates to the landscaping and retaining wall by the addition of large rocks. This upgrade helped improve the habitat for the animals as well as viewing opportunities for guests.
This new structure signaled the beginning of change at the Valley Zoo. It was the first enclosure to open that aligned with the Valley Zoo’s City Council approved Master Plan for renewal.
The enclosure and the island are fitting for the Lemurs as the island of Madagascar is the only place in the world where Lemurs live in the wild. The design of this building allows for the exhibit of four different endangered species of Lemur, and they can easily co-exist both inside and outside on the island year-round.
It is unique in using passive solar considerations and the naturalized interior environment with a living wall backdrop composed of living plants. The island is barrier free, with no fence, because the design incorporates a natural water moat barrier — lemurs do not like water!
HELP BUILD OUR ZOO!
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!