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  #1
Edmonton Valley Zoo...
Old 30-03-2008

Either of you canucks been to this zoo:

http://www.buildingthevalleyzoo.com/...Video/Wmap.jpg

Is it close to the above master plan..?
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  #2
Old 31-03-2008

Yep, we have both been there before. Suffice it to say that neither Snowleopard nor myself are impressed in the least . Their master plan is just being implemented now, but has a lot of bad exhibits to replace. Not too long ago the Edmonton Valley Zoo was known as the Storyland Zoo. The whole Zoo had a tacky child's fairytale theme. A lot of those elements are still around, some are even in animal exhibits. For example the tiny indoor portion of the squirrel monkey exhibit looks like a doll house.

Gibbon enclosure
Edmonton Labour Day 2006 214 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I remember how much I hated this when I was as young as five or six. As you can imagine it feels embarrassing to go to such a place when you're an adult or teenager and aren't accompanied by children.

A lot of the exhibits are incredibly outright ugly too .

Check out the meerkat exhibit
Edmonton Labour Day 2006 080 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
The pathetic sea lion exhibit that looks like a dilapidated public pool
sleepy sea lions on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Many of the newer exhibits that were built before the master plan are not that much better.

Check out the mid(late?) 1990's indoor elephant exhibit
Zoo on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
They could not even build a good red panda exhibit
Red Panda on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

In the Saito Centre, an indoor facility, a few years ago, the glass was so dirty in some exhibits that it was hard to see the reptiles behind it. In a lot of places the glass was starting to break too.

Three years ago this facility attracted more than 200,000 visitors had hundreds of animals of over one hundred species (about 50 mammal species), but only employed 25 full time staff. They did not have a veterinarian on staff, but utilized the services of an outside private practice.

In the mid 1990's the Valley Zoo developed a different master plan. A few years later they hired a big design firm (I forgot which) to develop plans for a huge 30 million South American sea lion facility. The stupidity of this is evident when you know that this animal was only housed at that one facility and was not a sustaining population.

If I was born in Edmonton and still lived there I could imagine myself protesting against this facility. The presence of this facility smears zoological institutions in general.
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  #3
Old 31-03-2008

The 2 million dollar Makira Outpost opened last year at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. It received a CAZA award for enrichment for its significant advancement in animal care. This exhibit, unlike all the other primate ones at the Valley Zoo, has an indoor and outdoor component so the animals do not need to be caught every fall and spring and transferred. There is also natural light, and a wall for growing edible plants. I have not been there but from some of the pictures I have seen it still does not look that impressive.

lemur ball on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Edmonton Labour Day 2006 094 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
lemur platform on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

The outdoor exhibit is basically a water moat surrounding an island with a very nice elm tree on it.

As part of their master plan the Valley Zoo has also built a arctic wolf enclosure.

The Edmonton city council has approved the Edmonton valley Zoo's Master Plan. From what I have read on the Zoo's website and elsewhere the Polar Extremes exhibits and elephant exhibit will be the next parts of their plan to be implemented.

Both will have very significant associated costs and the only animals that will have their homes improved will be the lone Asian elephant and sea lions. Polar bears will be brought into the Zoo which are notoriously hard to exhibit well in North America. Preferably, I would immediately transfer these animals to new homes elsewhere and work on improving the homes for the Valley Zoo's other residents, which would be much more manageable for an institution that has had an extremely hard time getting funding and respect.
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  #4
Old 31-03-2008

Thanks for the photos Taccachantrieri!

I've posted a few comments about this ****** little zoo on other threads, but overall it is a truly pitiful sight and should be torn down. The sea lion exhibit for the 3 aging pinnipeds is as bad as any you'll ever see in the worst Asian zoos, the red panda yard is a joke, the one and only elephant spends a huge chunk of her life inside a poorly designed concrete jail, the gibbons and other primates would be better off dead then living in the enclosures that they are trapped in...and the list goes on.

I was born in Edmonton, lived there for ten years, and visited the zoo many times during that decade. I have been back to the zoo only once in 20 years, and it took me exactly one hour to go around and get the hell out of there before I launched into a protest.

One major black mark on the zoo is that in the wintertime (which can be half the year in frosty Edmonton) the animals are placed in their "winter quarters". The less said about those exhibits the better....
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  #5
Old 31-03-2008

I posted this somewhere else, but since we now have a full thread devoted to Edmonton's Valley Zoo then I cut and pasted a portion of the article:


Nearly all of Lucy’s life has been spent shuffling around the Edmonton Valley Zoo’s tiny elephant yard. She stands stationary much of the time, sometimes rocking back and forth, and has numerous ongoing health issues. She wasn’t always alone. Until last September, a female African elephant named Samantha shared her small enclosure. Samantha was shipped off to another zoo on a long-term breeding loan and may never return.

Elephants are among the most social of all animals. In the wild, a female elephant spends her entire life, day and night, in contact with other elephants. The Valley Zoo says Lucy is fine where she is and that she has bonded with her keepers. They say the zoo is all she knows and that it wouldn't be in her best interest for her to leave.

But the constant 24 hour a day social contact, that wild elephants experience with their families cannot be replicated by staff at the Valley Zoo. They are not a substitute for a family or herd. Think about it. Keepers go home at the end of their shift. And when they do, Lucy is left alone in her Spartan indoor facility until the next morning. Elephant families don’t disband in the late afternoon and then reassemble the next morning. They are together all the time. Lucy’s keepers are not a stand-in for a real elephant family.

It’s true that the elephant yard and barn at the Valley Zoo is probably all Lucy has ever known. But that’s probably the most compelling reason for her to go elsewhere. Denying Lucy a better life just because she’s only known the Valley Zoo doesn’t make sense. In fact, it's a terrible reason for her to spend the rest of her life in solitary confinement in the zoo’s Spartan conditions.

Recently, the zoo has also said Lucy has an infection that makes it too dangerous for her to travel. Lucy has many health issues, but it's difficult to imagine that her health wouldn't improve if she were moved to a better situation. Her living conditions and lack of activity, coupled with the frustration and stress of being alone, must be having a severely negative effect.

In a more stimulating, naturalistic environment Lucy would be able to act more like an elephant. She’d be more active, her fitness would get better, her immune system would get stronger and her mental state would improve.
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  #6
Old 31-03-2008

Valley Zoo's 26-page master plan:

http://www.edmonton.ca/ArtCultAttr/V...anTextOnly.pdf

I'll be shocked if even half of this plan is completed.
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  #7
Old 31-03-2008

Two interesting questions to ask here are if the Edmonton Valley Zoo Master Plan is ideal to begin with and whether they are pursuing the completion of it in the best possible manner.

The Calgary Zoo has ballooned presence wise over the past 15 years or so. To get to the point where they are today where they can consider adding large mammals in expansive and expensive exhibits the Calgary Zoo has had to make many adjustments. I imagine it would be quite surprising to most of the people on this forum that in the past fifteen years the Calgary Zoo has removed white rhinoceros, polar bears, orangutans, seals, and spectacled bears from their collection. In that same time they have added African hunting dogs, Canadian ungulates, and numerous small animals. The Calgary Zoo has also replaced some of their megafauna and large mammals with similiar species like switching Asiatic black bears with sloth bears and addax with bongos.

An important part of the Calgary Zoos development was to keep visitor interest high by building immersion Canadian habitats, mostly featuring ungulates, that were cheap to construct and maintain relative to similiar exotic zoogeographic habitats. During this time there is no way they could have mustered the funds to build the $30 million Destination Africa complex. Once they were in a better spot the Calgary Zoo was able to construct Destination Africa, which bolstered attendance almost 50% in a year (from 841,000 visitors to about 1,200,000)! Although Destination Africa has lots of big animals it really just improved the habitats for the larger animals already at the Zoo and added a lot of new species of exotic birds, reptiles, and small mammals.

I think the Edmonton Valley Zoo is asking too much at this time by trying to get Destination Africa money to exhibit controversial animals. They need to build the confidence of the community and sponsors that this money will be put to good use. When these types of exhibits open they should remind visitors how good the rest of the Zoo is, not how bad all the other exhibits are.

For now the Valley Zoo should aim for more Makira Outpost type exhibits, and less elephant and polar bear type exhibits. During this period they should ship out those demanding animals that are wrecking their reputation, if at all possible. Lucy's respiratory problems may be aggravated by a move, but surely her foot problems that until recently were her biggest health concern would be improved by being sipped off to a place like the AZA National Elephant Center (yet to be constructed).
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  #8
Old 31-03-2008

As for the other part of my question, I don't think this is the best possible plan for the Valley Zoo either.

For starters that map is really quite deceiving. The whole Edmonton Valley Zoo site is about 40 acres including those off exhibit areas you see on the map. The actual exhibit area cannot be much bigger than 20 acres. That makes a lot of those exhibits seem pretty small, eh ? Another important consideration is that the Valley Zoo is not expecting Calgary Zoo level attendance so those visitor pathways are actually smaller than those at larger better visited Zoos.

I love to see moats utilized in a design, but they can be really difficult to pull off in a small area and without great designers. They can also reduce available space, which would be particularly problematic here!

I also normally applaud the use of green designed buildings with minimal visual impact on the landscape. The problem here is that they are really scattered and very small considering how bad the climate is (colder than Calgary and without Chinooks to create warm winter spells). These indoor exhibits will end up having to deal with the omnipresent nature of all those walls, something I think few Zoos can address well. From a heating and maintenance standpoint they are also quite inefficient. I equate it to the difference between townhouses and independent lots. From a visitors standpoint I would find it enormously frustrating to have to shed my winter layers then put them all back on on over 20 occasions in a small Zoo. At the Calgary Zoo I can fold my hat and gloves into my coat and fold that in my hands and forget about them while viewing numerous adjoining indoor exhibits.
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  #9
Old 01-04-2008

@Taccachantrieri: what are the animals located in the Makira Outpost? Also, Lucy the elephant can be shipped to either the Tennessee or PAWS (California) sanctuary. Both of those establishments have hundreds of acres, massive lakes, and elephant herds that she could be eased into. The Valley Zoo should really abandon any notion of keeping elephants in Edmonton forever, and move on to smaller, less controversial mammals. The photos that you posted show how poorly designed some of the enclosures are, and as you already pointed out...how can any zoo erect such a terrible red panda exhibit?

The worst exhibit of the lot is the one for the aging trio of sea lions. Poor bastards...
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  #10
Old 01-04-2008

Wow... I come back after a few days and you guys have created:

*wall of text*

If they are planning on needing 60 - 70 million dollars, the master plan looks like it will end up being a 100 year plan...
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  #11
Old 07-06-2008

I agree with everything said here about the Valley Zoo. I find myself sticking up for them a lot in my "fight" against Guzoo, but only because Guzoo makes the Valley Zoo look like a first class facility.

Lucy the elephant and the sea lions are truly a depressing sight, and some of their monkey enclosures are tiny...but their monkeys, at least, have contact with members of their own kind.

I once spent an entire five hours sitting and watching Lucy, recording her behavior every two minutes. We actually had people taking shifts for two days. The vast majority of her time was spent standing in one spot with one leg raised, shifting weight every couple of minutes to another three legs. Sometimes she would go over to the bars of the barn and wrap her leg around it, then rock back and forth. She also spent a lot of time rocking in the corner looking at the wall. The most activity was when she was taken for a walk, but she was very stiff and kept on stopping. The keepers would pat her and encourage her to keep moving, don't touch the trees, etc. She just did what she was told and walked, not looking enriched in the slightest. Her keepers spent a few minutes with her every couple of hours, but there was no evidence that there were keepers with her constantly as the zoo implies. Even if there were, they cannot possibly provide the company other elephants can.

Her health records over the years have been revealed and she has been suffering constantly from conditions known to be caused by lack of movement, hard concrete floors, and our dry/cold weather.

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee has offered her a place, transportation taken care of, and now the ball is in the Zoo's court. They are keeping her in a situation contrary to CAZA's standards; an elephant in solitary confinement is certainly not an adequate social grouping. She is currently, as far as I know, the most socially isolated elephant in North America, as well as the furthest north...she spends most of the year in her small barn.

I really don't see how they can keep making excuses when it's obvious she would be better off elsewhere. The zoo has a lot of native animals and could play a valuable role in offering sanctuary to unreleasable native wildlife and educating the public as to how wildlife is affected by human impact.

TES has had an amazing success rate rehabilitating circus and zoo elephants in worse condition then Lucy.
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  #12
Old 08-06-2008

@Devonvm: I enjoyed your well-written and informative posting. I was born in Edmonton and visited the Valley Zoo many times as a child, but in the past 20 years have only been back once. The solitary occasion of my visit was shocking, as the zoo is behind the times in so many ways...but like you point out it is a first class facility compared to GuZoo! With only 300 animals I often wonder why the establishment doesn't close down permanently and offload the inhabitants to some of the 220 AZA zoos in the U.S., or even to other prominent institutions around Canada.

Lucy the elephant is one of the saddest stories I've ever read about, and at least she had a fellow elephant with her for most of her captive life. It's mindboggling to see that the zoo is still debating over what to do with her, when TES is willing to pay all the shipping costs and provide her with a better life. In the winter Lucy must spend at least 75% of her time in the tiny barn, rocking back and forth as she battles insanity. It would be immensely depressing for anyone to see such abnormal behaviour.

The winter quarters for the zoo's animals are appalling, the sea lions would be better off dead, the gibbons have a puny little glass-fronted cage that is an embarrassment, and the list goes on and on...
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  #13
Old 20-06-2008

Two tiny red pandas latest arrivals in program aimed at keeping species alive - Yahoo! Canada News

Perhaps the one and only good thing about the Valley Zoo: it has now produced another pair of red panda cubs! According to the article only 4 red pandas were born in all of 2007 for North American zoos, and so the pair in Edmonton are extremely valuable to the captive population.
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  #14
The Valley Zoo Does have its problems
Old 02-07-2009

The valley Zoo does has its problems but I am hoping they are starting to go in a new direction. The master plan was created by studio Hanson Roberts a foremost zoo designer having developed first class exhibits around the world. They have also been working on the new polar extremes seal, sea lion enclosure. This exhibit is supposed to start construction this fall and is a world class facility with 15 foot deep salt water pools as well as an indoor exhibit for the older south american sealions. After this the zoo wishes to take on its oldest part of the zoo the storyland section. From the plans I have seen they are tremendous and would redo the panda exhibit the city of edmonton architects created in 2002 into something much better like the calgary zoo. Also the nocturnal wing is currently being renovated and shortly the gibbons will be moved into a larger exhibit with outdoor access.
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  #15
Old 02-07-2009

Has anything major actually been accomplished in the four years since the 2005 master plan? I am terribly disappointed in this cold-climate zoo (I was born in Edmonton), and with only a few hundred animals there has been talk in the past of shutting it down for good.

A few thoughts: the gibbons being moved is great news, as they currently have what must be one of the tiniest gibbon exhibits on the planet. Also, the sealions have one of the smallest pools I've ever seen in my life, and they must be quite elderly by now. Lucy the Asian elephant is still rocking back and forth in her tiny barn, where she spends up to 80% of the year. That is one brutal elephant paddock in freezing-cold Edmonton, and it must be another sad contender for being amongst the worst of its kind.

Here is the link to the master plan, and there is a map in the 40-page document highlighting the future appearance of this tiny zoo. I'll be shocked if even half of this master plan is completed, as often zoos never finish all of their construction dreams.

http://www.valleyzoo.ca/Content_File...planlowres.pdf
 


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