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First impressions count and the recently revitalized entry to the zoo, with the addition of Penguin Plunge and the new Gift Shop & Café, greets guests with a buzz of activity. This vibrant area presents options for year-round, easily-accessible indoor and outdoor venues. The old gift shops are removed and green space that acts as a gathering place are added to provide the perfect location for groups, friends and families to meet, orient themselves and decide on their itinerary for the day. This pleasant resting place overlooks the portion of the zoo located on St. George’s Island with Calgary’s skyline and beautiful Rocky Mountains as a further backdrop. It provides options for guests to explore In the Company of Bears, seek out adventure in Beyond the Great Wall or proceed across the bridge to Destination Africa, Dinny’s Green and The Shadow of the Himalayas.
Penguin Plunge, which opened in February 2012, initiated the development of this area as a year-round attraction. Engaging penguins in indoor and outdoor habitat, as well as the new Gift Shop & Café, provide a great welcome to the zoo regardless of the weather or the season.
Retail, food services and washrooms provide all the comforts required at either the beginning or end of the guests’ around-the-world experience. A presentation place, multi-purpose rooms and a play/discovery area make this an area that further enhances the guest experience.
The western far reaches of the aging Prehistoric Park are completely redeveloped into an exciting representation of the deciduous forests of Asia – an area spanning China, the Koreas and Japan. One of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world, this region encompasses the last vestiges of sub-tropical species, dominating temperate forests and the Russian taiga – regions with many similarities in climate and geography to Alberta. It is home to some of the world’s most endangered animals and a visit to Beyond the Great Wall will inspire guests to wonder why tigers travelled so far north or how sub-tropical macaques (snow monkeys) came to be in Japan.
Guests will encounter snow monkeys basking in spectacular “hot springs” reminiscent of those found in Japan, complete with a Asian-inspired viewing structure. An expansive takin exhibit is added in Phase I and later, in Phase II, a new home for Amur tigers completes the zone and safely showcases the predator-prey relationship between these two magnificent species. The welfare needs of these highly-endangered animals are met through exhibit design and active participation in conservation breeding and research so they are truly ambassadors for their species.
• Japanese Macaque (Snow Monkey)