Calgary Zoo unveils 20-Year master plan
CALGARY, April 25, 2013 /CNW/ - The Calgary Zoo today unveiled a long-term development plan that over the next 20 years will dramatically transform the landscape and philosophical focus of Alberta's oldest charity and Calgary's biggest tourist attraction.
"Twenty years from now, the Calgary Zoo will bear little resemblance to the zoo today," said Dr. Clement Lanthier, zoo president and CEO. "There is no doubt that this is the most ambitious redevelopment plan in the zoo's 84-year history and it will solidify the Calgary Zoo as Canada's leader in conservation. We intend to build a zoo that will lead the world in animal welfare while immersing our guests in experiences that will inspire a new appreciation for wildlife and wild places."
In the first phase, which spans the next five years leading up to the arrival of two giant pandas in 2018, the zoo will spend $162 million on at least 36 projects that will set a new standard for animal enclosures and create new ways for guests to connect with and learn about nature.
"In developing this plan, we took a hard look at the role of modern zoos to see how the Calgary Zoo can best serve the conservation needs of the future," said Lanthier. "Because one in seven endangered species are now in the care of zoos, today's zoos can well be compared to Noah's Ark - we are part of a global network of conservation organizations to preserve species in the wild using all the means at our disposal including captive breeding, reintroduction and education."
One of the important considerations for the next five years is preparing for the arrival of giant pandas in 2018 including renovating the space currently used by the zoo's elephants, which will be relocated within the next year. Given the impact of the giant panda visit in 1988, when zoo attendance almost doubled, Lanthier says the Calgary Zoo expects the five-year stay this time will give tourism a significant boost. About 50 per cent of the zoo's visitors come from out-of-town, making the Calgary Zoo both the most visited zoo in Canada and Calgary's most visited tourist attraction.
Other highlights of Phase I include a fully-immersive lemur exhibit, an interactive African village in Destination Africa and taking the first steps in phasing out the Prehistoric Park to make room for an expansive new home for endangered Japanese snow monkeys and a new species native to China and northern India, takin.
The $162 million in Phase I development will generate an economic impact of $363 million, according to an independent study produced by Grant Thornton.
The second phase of development spans approximately 15 years and will see a complete revamp of the island's west end, a large new tiger habitat and a 65,000-square-foot immersive Tropical House, orangutans will replace giant pandas, and finally the complete rebuild of the Canadian Wilds which ultimately sees the return of the iconic polar bear and northern seals.
Lanthier explained that the innovative rebuild of the Canadian Wilds to create In the Company of Bears will increase the focus on all bear species and help guests appreciate the important role each species plays in maintaining our own fragile Canadian ecosystem.
"Polar bears are an important part of our Canadian landscape - they are iconic and majestic - but the sad reality is that they are facing huge environmental challenges," explained Lanthier. "All indications from international experts are that within 10 to 20 years there will be a great need for institutions like the Calgary Zoo to tell the story of the polar bear and help preserve them in sufficient numbers to ensure genetic diversity until we can find the solutions to those challenges. As one of the largest zoos in Canada and arguably one of the most ideally situated in the world in terms of climate for polar bears, we must be prepared to help."
"When the Calgary Zoo reaches its 100th Anniversary in 2029, I am confident that we will be a world leader for its animal welfare and conservation practices," Lanthier concluded. "We will have played a major role in inspiring change - meaningful change - in our community, in our nation and in the world."
For more information on the zoo's master plan, Inspiring Change, please visit: www.calgaryzoo.com/masterplan/mediakit
SOURCE: Calgary Zoological Society
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