Inspiring Change represents an idea that one place, the Calgary Zoo, can change our world.


– Dr. Clément Lanthier,

President & CEO, Calgary Zoo



When Calgary was still just a small city with big aspirations, a simple foot bridge connected the deer park on St. George’s Island, Calgary’s first park, to the mainland. In those days, the natural island proved an ideal setting for picnics, relaxing and socializing.


Although the first collection of animals appeared on the Island in 1917, the founding of the Calgary Zoological Society in 1929 firmly established the Calgary Zoo at the heart of its community. Throughout its history, the zoo has evolved to not only meet the needs of its growing city, but also to meet the world’s conservation challenges. Recent decades have seen the addition of Prehistoric Park, Canadian Wilds, Destination Africa, Elephant Crossing, a new ENMAX Conservatory, major renovations to our north entry and main parking lot, and Penguin Plunge in 2012. These features have helped make the Calgary Zoo a favourite place to spend time and one of Alberta’s most important tourist destinations. In 2012, we hosted 1.45 million visitors, setting a new attendance record and generating a new level of excitement for the future.


Inspiring Change – reflects our plan for the next 20 years. This master plan carefully balances a number of priorities: the welfare of our animals; conservation research and outreach to support greater understanding of wildlife and wild places; renewal of facilities and programs; and the opportunity, and responsibility, to help our guests and community appreciate the importance of wildlife conservation. Inspiring Change represents an idea that one place, the Calgary Zoo, can change our world. Our mission is to take and inspire action to sustain wildlife and wild places and we succeed in that effort every day. For instance:


• We are Calgary’s largest living classroom, teaching 65,000 school children each year about conservation;

• Over 70,000 Calgarians hold annual memberships, visiting on average six times a year;

• Recent market research indicates that more than 30 per cent of Calgarians visit at least once a year; remarkably, 97 per cent of all citizens report having made at least one visit to the zoo in their lives!

• We host more than 150,000 international visitors annually and as many Canadians from other provinces;

• A team of dedicated biologists from the zoo’s Centre for Conservation Research work on critical projects earning the centre recognition as North America’s leader in the science of species recovery and reintroduction;

• In the last five years, we have actively supported conservation projects in more than 20 countries around the world, specializing in community-based conservation initiatives;

• The zoo’s 320-acre Devonian Wildlife Conservation Centre south of the city is home to endangered species breeding programs specifically for reintroduction to the wild and provides an ideal setting for research; and most importantly;

• Our award-winning work has helped halt the slide toward extinction for several species, in Canada and around the world.


For many species, zoos have become the modern-day Noah’s Ark, the only insurance against extinction and the hope for the future. The next 20 years are critical.Has the Calgary Zoo made a difference? Yes, but there’s much more work to be done. Our long-term vision is to be Canada’s leader in wildlife conservation.


Tragically, the current trends and ever-increasing number of species classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as threatened or endangered reinforces the importance of our conservation efforts in research and public education.


As Inspiring Change outlines, we are focused on finding new ways to use our resources and our influence to continue to make a difference as Canada’s leader in wildlife conservation. There are important milestones ahead that will help focus our efforts.


In 2018, we will become home to two endangered giant pandas from China. We expect this five-year visit to bring unprecedented local, national and international interest. Inspiring Change ensures the Calgary Zoo will be ready to host these iconic animals – and the world.


We are excited about our 2029 centennial anniversary, a milestone that will provide the opportunity to celebrate our place at the heart of our community and reinforce our continuing commitment to wildlife conservation for the next 100 years.


The Calgary Zoo has always been a place that inspires the next generation, takes action that makes a difference, and invites our guests and community to become part of the solution to the challenges facing nature. Inspiring Change is a plan for the future and an invitation to join us on this exciting 20-year journey.


Together, we can make a difference – we can and will inspire change.



Dr. Clément Lanthier,

President & CEO, Calgary Zoo