The Calgary zoo in Alberta is the second largest zoo in Canada and a popular destination. There are 800 or so animals (not including every single fish and insect, of course) and about 120 different species. It’s a comfortable place to be with kids. The zoo is arranged by geography and there is also a fantastic Prehistoric Park.
It’s hard to miss the penguins because they’re right at the main entrance, and that’s great because they’re a favourite. The set-up makes you feel like you’re swimming and climbing the rocks with them and the penguins are so cute! The Humboldt penguins strut around like they own the place. The Gentoo dive deep and swim fast. The Rockhoppers are much smaller and build their nests from rocks.
Komodo dragons are in the Eurasia section and we were anxious to see them because a close relative had spent a few days on the island in Indonesia where many of them live freely and told us fascinating stories about them. They are not actually dragons, of course, but the world’s largest lizards. They don’t breathe fire (although they have a forked tongue) but do eat their young, which is pretty disgusting. In fact, when a baby Komodo dragon is hatched the first thing it does is climb the nearest tree to get away from adults who are too heavy to climb the tree. But those adults can run really fast, at least in short bursts, so look out!
Actually, there was only one Komodo dragon at the zoo where we were there and her name is Loka. She was trying to hide and didn’t look particularly happy. We heard that four other dragons would soon join Loka but would be in a separate space because Loka would try to eat them! Little wonder Komodo dragons are an endangered species.
In Destination Africa there are hippos and giraffes and red river hogs. From the African grasslands are zebras and ostriches and lions—four lions altogether. During the Calgary flood in 2013 the lions were separated and when brought together again they were in a rather aggressive mood. Be on the look-out for the one-horned rhinoceros (or at least its poo), usually seen on the grasslands of India and Nepal.
You’ll meet alpacas, which are rather interesting. They are related to camels but do not have a hump. But just like camels, they spit when upset or unhappy. They also have a long neck so can see for great distances and warn their herd of danger.
The mandrill is rather unusual looking with a body covered with greyish, olive-green fur and a shiny head and rump. They can store a lot of food in their cheeks pouches until they think it’s safe to eat.
You’ll see grizzly bears, wood bison and wolves in the Canadian Wilds.
From Argentina comes the strict vegetarian Patagonian Cavy that reminds me of an overgrown rabbit.
Don’t miss the conservatory, where you’ll find birds and butterflies and unusual plants from around the world.
We had great fun running around the Prehistoric Park, screaming when we came upon one of many life-size creatures hidden in the forest like the Tyrannosaurus rex.
Consider going to the Calgary Zoo on the C-Train, taking the Northeast Line to the stop named “Zoo”, which is right by the ticket office. It makes getting there and back even more of an adventure.
See the ever growing Bucket List for Kids in Canada
By Sylvia Fanjoy
Photo credits Sylvia Fanjoy
© Riding the buses