The Calgary Zoo (1300 Zoo Rd. NE, 403/232-9300, year-round daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m., adult $18, senior $16, child $10) is one of Canada’s finest zoos. Unique viewing areas have been designed to allow visitors the best look at the zoo’s 1,000-plus animals.
For example, in Destination Africa, giraffes tower over a huge glass-walled pool that provides a home to two hippos, with sunken stadium seating allowing visitors a fish-eye view of hippos’ often-relaxing day. The second “ecosystem” of Destination Africa is a massive building that re-creates a rainforest, with gorillas and monkeys absolutely everywhere.
Other highlights include a section on Australia’s nocturnal animals, exotic mammals such as lions and tigers, and conservatories filled with tropical flowers, butterflies, and birds. One of the largest display areas is Canadian Wilds, devoted to the mammals you may or may not see on your travels through Alberta.
In the Prehistoric Park section, the world of dinosaurs is brought to life with 27 full-size replicas set amid plantlife and rock formations supposedly similar to those found in Alberta in prehistoric times, but looking more like badlands. Nature Tales is a daily interpretive program that takes in everything from trained elephants strutting their stuff to grizzly-bear feeding.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition