Edmonton Valley Zoo

The Edmonton Valley Zoo (sometimes known simply as the Valley Zoo) is a zoo located in the heart of Edmonton, Alberta's river valley. The Edmonton Valley Zoo is owned and operated by the City of Edmonton and is open 364 days a year, closing only on Christmas. The zoo is currently accredited by CAZA and is one of three accredited zoos in Alberta.[3]

Edmonton Valley Zoo
One of the 8 variations of the logo.
Date openedJuly 1, 1959[1]
LocationEdmonton, Alberta, Canada
Coordinates53°30′41″N 113°33′14″W
Land area0.18 km2 (0.069 sq mi)
No. of animals350 [2]
No. of species100

The Valley Zoo opened on July 1, 1959, as a replacement for a previous Edmonton Zoo (Borden Park Zoo) which was torn down to expand Northlands Park (now Northlands). The zoo is home to over 350 exotic and native animals and houses over 100 different species. In 2007, the Edmonton Valley Zoo launched the Makira Conservation Fund Initiative in honour of their newly unveiled lemur habitat, aptly named the Makira Outpost after the Makira forest region in Madagascar.[4] In addition to this cause, the zoo also raises funds and awareness for other endangered animals such as red pandas, through the Red Panda Network,[5] and various other conservation efforts.[6] This facility also promotes animal conservation through its participation in the Species Survival Plan,[7] an international effort led by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association which ultimately aims to restore endangered animal populations to the wild, for a variety of species. They have successfully raised six red panda cubs since 2007.[5]

The Edmonton Valley Zoo's 2005 Master Plan was approved by Edmonton City Council, allocating $50 million in capital funding. With the first project, Arctic Shores completed, the second phase, The Wander Trail, Opened in 2013.[8]


Valley Zoo
Location of Valley Zoo in Edmonton
Inner Zoo 
The Inner Zoo is the area of the zoo that was originally the Storyland Valley Zoo. The vast majority of the area was constructed in 1959. Animals that live within this area of the zoo during summer include: emus, kookaburras, keas, Black Swans, and Skunks
Makira Outpost 
Makira Outpost is an exhibit which opened in the summer of 2007 and is home to the zoo's lemurs. The new exhibit uses many new exhibit methods. The lemurs have access to a large outdoor island with two large elm trees for climbing. It also has two outdoor enclosures that have zoomesh (a nearly invisible mesh). The indoor enclosures are huge and benefit from lots of natural light. The animals housed in Makira outpost include: ring-tailed lemurs, African spurred tortoise, mongoose lemurs and ruffed lemurs.
Nature,s Wild Backyard
New for 2019 the zoo has recently opened phase one of Nature’s Wild Backyard. Phase one includes a new immersive exhibit for the zoos Red Panda as well as a new expanded year round Urban farm home to numerous domestic species. The most defining feature of the new Urban Farm is that goats are up on the roof. In addition to the new animal enclosures the Urban Farm is home to a new restaurant, washrooms, and ice cream stand. Phase II of Nature’s Wild Backyard is currently not completely funded.
Carnivore Alley 
The Carnivore Alley is home to majority of the zoo's carnivores. Here one can see red foxes, snow leopards, Amur tigers, Arctic wolves, Canadian Lynx and African serval cat.
Elephant House and Exhibit 
The Valley Zoo's Elephant House is home to Lucy, a female Asian elephant who was orphaned in Sri Lanka in 1975 and came to the zoo at the age of two in May 19, 1977.
Saito Center 
The Saito Center is named after the zoo's former veterinarian who died shortly before construction of the building. Originally designed as a new winter holding building it now houses all the zoo's fragile animals. It is winter home to all of the zoo's primate species as well. It is also home to the reptile and nocturnal wing, froggerry (home to over 10 species of Amphibians), and many of the zoo's smaller animals. In 2017 a new indoor exhibit that houses temporary animal exhibits was created.
African Veldt 
The African Veldt is home to non-releasable American white pelicans and endangered Grevy's zebras.
Back Paddocks 
The back paddocks are home to the zoos larger hoof stock and include Bactrian camel, reindeers, guanacos, bighorn sheep, and a Sichuan takin group.
Birds of Prey 
The Birds of Prey area features "non-releasable" raptors, some of which are in outreach programs. Some highlight species include bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and snowy owl.


The residence of Lucy the elephant at the Valley Zoo has been a source of controversy since 2009. Animal welfare groups such as Zoocheck[9] opposed on keeping a lone elephant in a zoo, since elephants are a highly social species, and that Edmonton's cold climate is unhealthy for elephants. Groups like Zoocheck have said that Lucy exhibits psychological health issues, including lethargy and abnormal stereotypical behaviours, though these have not been confirmed by any animal healthcare professional.

A number of North American zoos have phased out elephants, including the Toronto zoo when it moved three elephants in October 2013 to the United States.[10][11]

The Edmonton Valley Zoo, for its part, argues that moving Lucy would be detrimental to her health, disclosing a known respiratory issue that is purportedly exacerbated by stress.[12]

Retired game show host and animal rights activist Bob Barker had also advocated for Lucy's transfer.[13]


  1. Edmonton Journal, , New Zoo Opens Doors Wednesday, June 30, 1959, Retrieved on May 16, 2011
  2. City of Edmonton, , Edmonton Valley Zoo, Retrieved on May 16, 2011
  3. CAZA, Archived 2011-07-23 at the Wayback Machine, CAZA Members Directory - Alberta, Retrieved on May 16, 2011
  4. City of Edmonton, , Makira Conservation Fund, Retrieved on May 16, 2011
  5. City of Edmonton, , Red Panda Network, Retrieved on May 16, 2011
  6. City of Edmonton, , Conservation & Environment, Retrieved on May 16, 2011
  7. City of Edmonton, , Species Survival Plan, Retrieved on May 16, 2011
  8. "Construction". About Our Zoo. The City of Edmonton. Archived from the original on 3 October 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  9. Zoocheck
  10. "Phasing out Elephants?". Zoocheck Canada. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  11. "Former Toronto Zoo elephants begin new life in California". CBC News. October 21, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  12. Edmonton, City of (2019-08-09). "Let's Crush the Myths!". www.edmonton.ca. Retrieved 2019-08-09.
  13. Landry, Frank (February 24, 2009). "Bob Barker wants Edmonton elephant moved". Canoe.ca. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
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