Those of you that have followed me for a while will no doubt remember the massive flood we had back in June this year and the damage our Calgary Zoo sustained. I will never forget the pictures shown on the local news of the flooded zoo island – it was devastating. The zoo closed its doors, partially opened a month later and fully re-opened on 28th November.
Here are some facts about how the flood affect our zoo:
– the zoo is partially located on St. George’s Island, covering 32 acres in the middle of the Bow River in downtown Calgary and sustained a huge amount of damage
– the staff moved 160 animals to higher ground
– one of the contingency plans was to move the big cats to the Calgary Court House (thankfully that plan never had to be put into practice)
– some animals unfortunately died, some fish in the TransAlta Rainforest house died, the tilapia that lived in the same pool as the hippos also perished, some piranhas and 4 peacock died; a pot belly pig later died due to related stress
– 40 buildings sustained substantial damage
– the damage is estimated at $50 million, with an additional operating loss of $10 million
– the South American building was lost, as it was one of the oldest buildings there, it was considered beyond economical repair
– the re-build motto for the zoo is “2 by 2 rebuild the Zoo”
As I stated above, the zoo has reopened and as I had a day off on Friday I took the chance to visit and see for myself all the great work that has been done to make this happen. Walking around the grounds it is clear to those of us that visit regular that things have changed since June. The staff, volunteers and contractors have done an amazing job and most of the buildings and animal enclosures have been repaired. I am sure there are many other things that still need to be done, but I am sure those can be tackled in slower time. The greatest loss to me is the South American building, which was one of the oldest buildings and was due to be demolished in a few years, but to lose it so suddenly was a shock, especially as the animals had to be re-homed to other zoos. I just hope that in time these species can be brought back to Calgary.
Our zoo has a 20 year plan, part of that plan is to re-home the elephants and to plan for the arrival of the Giant Pandas in a few years time. I imagine that some of these plans have now been accelerated, whilst other parts will probably have been put back.
It is amazing what Calgarians have done to help the zoo, especially when so many residents have been affected in their own homes by the flood. It just goes to show that Calgarians are a special bunch!
So, if you live in or around Calgary, please come and support the zoo by visiting, or buy a membership to enjoy the zoo any time you fancy (which is what we did and have been doing for a couple of years now). December, despite the cold weather, is a great time to visit the zoo, as their zoolights are a fantastic nighttime family attraction.
Now, I know that not everyone agrees with animals being kept in cages, but a zoo is so much more than that. Without zoos some of the endangered species would now be wiped out. Zoos play a vital part in conservation, locally and worldwide, with their breeding programs, raising awareness, teaching old and young about the animals of the world – so I for one am happy to support our zoos.
The photos below are some of my favourite ones I took on my visit this past Friday – enjoy!