Some of our zoo residents are born here, like our baby Zebra.
Many of our guests ask, “Where does the Edmonton Valley Zoo get its animals?”
This is not a simple answer. There are no zoo stores with catalogues of animals to order and zoos do not collect animals from the wild except under special circumstances. Rather, there are many different ways zoos acquire animals for their collections.
Births, of course, do account for some of the arrivals at our zoo. This year the Edmonton Valley Zoo had two Sichuan takin calves, and red panda cubs born. Although baby animals are popular draws, accredited zoos do not breed their animals indiscriminately as the result would be an overpopulation, which in turn would cause housing and care challenges.
Many animals are part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs, meaning that zoos worldwide work cooperatively to manage animal populations, thereby maintaining the greatest genetic diversity. The SSP often controls breeding in order to limit the number of offspring born each year.
Another way animals arrive at our zoo is through animal loans. Many animals are on breeding loans; sent from other facilities to be mated with animals currently living in our zoo. The offspring of these loans is shared between the zoos. Our snow leopards for example, arrived on breeding loans. Other types of loans include animals brought in for the summer to reside at the Urban Farm (calves, lambs, goats) and returned back to their owners in the fall.
Private donations are yet another we acquire animals. Many times a well-meaning pet owner buys a “cool” animal only to find out that they are not equipped to look after the animal. They soon realize the tiny two-inch Sulcata tortoise they bought grows and grows until it ends up to be over 200 pounds (91 kg) and three feet long (91 cm), and they can no longer deal with it. Sometimes the pets are illegal to possess and must be donated to a zoo. This was the case with our Serval cat, Pascha, and our Burmese python, Lucy. Sadly, unwanted pets often have issues with obesity, aggression, or they are bonded to humans.
Lambs and other farm animals are often on loan to the Urban Farm for the summer.
Serval cats are illegal to own in Alberta. Pasha was surrendered by his owner.
Rescue animals also make their way to the Edmonton Valley Zoo if they are unable to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Our male Peregrine falcon was brought to us when he was just a fledgling due to an injury leaving the nest. We were able to offer him a home here and saved him from being euthanized.
Lastly, when a zoo is in need of a particular species, and none are available for trade or loan, there is always the option of purchasing an animal from a breeder, pet store, another zoo, or a reputable animal dealer. Koko and Lala, our first two red pandas, came to us from a zoo in Japan in 2004 and more recently, we found Tundra, our male Arctic wolf, in a zoo in the Netherlands.
Whether our animals were born here, donated, or arrived via a loan, trade, or sale, together they make up our Edmonton Valley Zoo family.