I’ve never been to the Edmonton Valley Zoo. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to other zoos and animal-related centres (a zoo in Portland, an aquarium in Chicago), but I’ve never stepped foot in the one nestled in my own city. I hear bad things about the zoo though, like how it’s so small it makes people sad because you feel bad for the animals trapped in there, but I’d still like to experience it for myself. And I shall!
On my day off (Wednesday, July 21) prior to being the Capital Ex reporter for the Sun this summer, Mike and I decided to head to the Edmonton Valley Zoo.
I was pretty excited because as the excerpt above says, I had never been to this particular zoo before. More excited I got when we realized we had a buy one admission get one admission free coupon to use!!
Anyway almost the first animal area you get to upon entering the zoo is the guinea pigs section — this made me both laugh and feel a little sad. Sad because 65 guinea pigs had been poisoned and died at the Valley Zoo a few months ago. Laughed because of a column that local Sun columnist Yukon Jack had written back then about how stellar a zoo the city has to have featured guinea pigs in the first place. Lol.
Like the excerpt reads above, I had heard bad things about the Valley Zoo — that it was too small, that all the animals looked depressed, etc., etc. But I have to say I thought it was a great place! The animals seemed happy, the visitors seemed happy, the place was cleanly and pleasant, and while yes — there were not-so-impressive animals like sheep and chickens — there were also tigers and pandas and the very popular Lucy the Elephant!
As any Edmontonian knows, there’s lots of controversy over Lucy the Elephant — protesters who say she deserves to be moved because the conditions at the Valley Zoo aren’t ideal for her health, but as far as what I saw that Wednesday, she seemed perfectly happy and healthy. I mean I can understand where the whole being the only elephant all alone without family or other elephant friends could be an issue, but in terms of care, I think the Valley Zoo is doing their best to care for her. I was actually surprised she was just trotting along the zoo grounds that day with some zoo keepers. It was really cool how close up we were able to get to her actually, as she walked by us. We weren’t able to stay for the elephant show later that afternoon unfortunately (apparently she would be painting pictures that day, Cool!) but I was stoked we had that chance-meeting with her just walking around the zoo!
We spent a good chunk of time at the birds show, where there was a zoo interpreter telling us about different birds — a lot of owls, an eagle, I can’t remember what else because it’s been too long now — how they act, how they came to be at the zoo, etc. They had the birds flying around and they also brought the birds around the audience so we could see them up close. That was pretty fun too!
The only actually depressing area of the Valley Zoo I found was the sea lions/aquatic/arctic area. Seriously, depressing. I think reports from friends about the zoo being a depressing place probably stemmed from this area because the area for the sea lions was teeny tiny and watching the poor things just swim around in the tiny space, with everything just looking so dank and drab, it was, well — depressing. But it seems like zoo officials are aware of this because construction on a new state of the art arctic habitat is being built on the grounds as we speak, one that should hopefully squash any “Looking at the Valley Zoo animals is depressing” statements into the ground. Hopefully. Because as I said, everything else I encountered during my trip was fairly pleasant! :)
After grabbing a pizza, poutine, and a blue slushie (my favourite slushie colour), we left the zoo feeling great. It was a beautiful day and the Edmonton Valley Zoo proved to be a great site for a cute date.
Sidenote: Mike’s favourite animal at the zoo was the red panda.