Our family visits the zoo regularly throughout the year to see our favourite animals, such as the hippos, Western Lowland gorillas and Amur tigers. They are just a sampling of the 121 species on display as part of the popular Calgary attraction’s commitment to education and conservation. 

We’re especially excited about the new arrivals that have taken up residence since the facility completely re-opened after the devastating 2013 flood. Our trip today is a mini safari to see who besides the lone rhino is new at the Calgary Zoo.

GREATER ONE-HORNED RHINO

A greater one-horned rhinoceros lumbers toward us across its expansive habitat at the Calgary Zoo. The creature resembles an armoured tank because of its body plates and seems just as ponderous in its movements. At last, it plops down in the dirt as if too tired to carry on.

“Isn’t he cute?” fawns my daughter, cooing over the stubby horn and wide face.

MANDRILLS

Outside the TransAlta Rainforest building, three mandrills monkey around on this sunny day. We’re mesmerized more by the brothers’ curious looks than their primate behavior—this vulnerable monkey species from Africa boasts a blue nose, red nostrils and a dapper yellow beard, not to mention their bright red and blue rumps. My daughter, who just attended a week of zoo camp, informs me the colours intensify when they’re ready to mate. Who knew? 

EURASIAN LYNX

The pair of sleek Eurasian lynx is easy to spot with their distinguished faces and black tufts of fur atop pointy ears. And we’re in luck when we walk past the enclosure — the male has just grabbed a meaty bone in his mouth and is now batting it around playfully, much to my son’s delight. The lynx notices us staring and returns our gaze with piercing, watchful eyes.

KOMODO DRAGON

Loka, the oldest Komodo dragon in captivity, is sleeping peacefully inside her new enclosure in the Eurasia building, but we’re not fooled. The world’s largest lizards are stealthy predators that can run at speeds of up to 20 kilometres per hour. 

‘WHITE’ BLACK BEAR

This bear’s story is even more riveting than her unusual, blonde fur. The young female had turned into a “problem bear” after becoming habituated to humans in a small mountain town in British Columbia. The Calgary Zoo adopted her and hopes to educate the public about human-wildlife conflict—without a safe place to call home, the young bear would have been destroyed.

- By Lisa Kadane


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