We woke relatively early, consumed many pancakes with nutella, syrup and banana, and proceeded out on foot to the zoo. The Calgary Zoo was extensively flooded and damaged in the floods last year, but they are rebuilding pretty well. The zoo is located on two sides of the river, connected by a bridge.
After a 40minute walk, we arrived at the walking gate, only to find it was closed, and a sign sending us back to the north entrance. We headed back that way, but ended up walking right around the outside of one of the islands, which was a bit frustrating for me, coz I wanted to be inside looking at the animals, not freezing outside! However, we got to walk along the river, pretty and mostly frozen, and we saw a whole bunch of canadian geese (who were just standing in the unfrozen bits of the river, like it was balmy), and a very cute, fluffy, black squirrel.
We finally made it to the entrance, and went inside. It was freezing outside, with a slight breeze. A slight breeze I’m sure that brings the temperature down so much!
mThe zoo was pretty quiet, I don’t think it is that much of a Winter destination haha. The zoo itself I enjoyed, many of the enclosures are well designed and interesting, both for the animals and the people. The indoor penguin enclosure was awesome, with glass walls and pools that you can see into, with tunnels under the walkway, and when the penguins get out of the pool, they are at your head level, so you’re kinda looking up at them. You can lean on the glass wall, and while doing so, a penguin decided it would be a good idea to peck my hands. We’re not allowed to touch the penguins, but they are allowed to touch us!
After the penguins it was to the Canadian Wilds area, where we saw mountain goats and sheep, caribou, bison, elk.
An aviary housed some very fluffy owls, who all blinked sleepily at us (apart from one, who had intent yellow eyes, and he stared at us, no matter where we moved. There was one who was snuggled under a heat lamp, so cute!
Then across the bridge, where we found zebra, which were interestingly camouflaged with the snow and rocks; a pair of the coldest looking lions I have seen – two males, with decent manes, one was stretched on a rock, but the other was curled into a ball like a little housecat!
There was a very cool indoor African area, where they house the hippos, with a viewing pool, so you can watch them while they swim… on land they are massive, fat, and droopy. In the water, they are like large ballerinas, and it is very cool watching them. Also in the Africa area were giraffe, porcupines, and meerkats. I was (being mean) very amused by the fact that the meerkats were all quite terrified of my fox hat…I would stick my head over the viewing wall, and peer down at them – if I didn’t have my hat on they would peer up at me, and then go about their business, but if I had my hat on, they would peer up, look startled, and then if I moved, they would sound an alert, and then all run off and hide in a log or ball or den.
I had two favourite parts of the zoo – the first was their snow leopard exhibit, which we walked past and couldn’t find anything in, so we went along to the tiger exhibit, which was my other favourite part. The tiger exhibit was quite large, and had a lovely stream/pool in the middle (though frozen over at this time of year). it was full of bare trees and snow, but looked neat, and there were two tigers prowling in it. They looked much happier in the snow than the lions did, and their stripes and orange was very striking against the while. They both looked alert and curious and prowled around the cage a bit. They were so cute! One was cleaning his face with his paw, just like a house cat.
On the way back, we went past the snow leopard cage again, and there were two snow leopards! We were super excited. They are very pretty, they look so fluffy and soft, and their tails are amazing. So thick and long (I think they are up to 1 meter long, just the tail). They prowled around, and glared a bit.
Lastly we visited the elephants, who spent a while finding their food, in puzzle balls and holes in the walls. Their trunks are so dexterous!
We left the zoo, and caught the train into town (too cold and far to wander any more, and still sore from skiing), and went to the center mall, which has an indoor garden on the 4th floor. It is quite lovely, to sit amongst the trees and warm, while it is freezing outsdie. There were koi, and a few water features. The gardens were all so perfect, I thought at first they were fake. But they are real; I guess they grow pretty equally, with similar light, humidity, no breeze or animals or erosion to make things look different.