Calgary Zoo Opens Canada's First Walk-through Lemur Experience

Posted on July 05

Calgary, AB – The Calgary Zoo is proud to open its first new major habitat in five years, Land of Lemurs, Canada’s first immersive lemur experience. 

The 1.3 acre feature allows visitors to enter the lemurs’ world in a barrier-free setting and leave with simple actions that can help protect one of the world’s most endangered primates.  

“We are so excited to open this unique experience for our visitors; it combines our expertise in conservation and visitor engagement,” says Dr. Clément Lanthier, President and CEO, Calgary Zoo. “Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot with many species and is the only place in the world where lemurs are found. It is clear that a solution requires efforts that simultaneously help wildlife and the people of Madagascar and our work on the island nation will help to link conserving lemurs with helping local communities thrive.” 

Land of Lemurs is located in Destination Africa on the east end of St. George’s Island and is the zoo's first major feature since Penguin Plunge opened in 2012. Featuring an outdoor walk-through that brings visitors up close to the animals, the habitat is also home to two additional outdoor habitats and an indoor habitat where the lemurs will spend the winter. Land of Lemurs will be home to 13 lemurs comprised of three species - black-and-white ruffed, ring-tailed and red fronted; some of the world’s most endangered primates. 

“This is an exciting new experience at our own Calgary Zoo that I’m sure will thrill Calgarians and visitors alike,” says Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “I’m confident that this will soon become a favourite destination for generations of people. This is a great opportunity for the Calgary Zoo to profile its important conservation work in this area.” 

The Calgary Zoo is working with the University of Calgary, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, and the Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership to help protect lemurs and their habitats in the rainforests of Kianjavato, Madagascar through its specific community conservation project. The community conservation project has three focuses:  

  • Funding community owned tree nurseries to support reforestation efforts. 

  • Support local field technicians for long-term lemur ecological and population monitoring. 

  • Fund green technology items such as solar lighting, water filtration and highly-efficient appliances to link conservation to human well-being. 

“I’m extremely proud that our government supported this world-class zoo habitat with $2.7 million in Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding,” says Shaye Anderson, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “This feature will increase annual attendance by up to 40,000 visits and have a $2.6 million economic impact in its first year alone. Not only will this investment create jobs and diversify Calgary’s economy, but it will make life better for so many Calgary families who will enjoy this very special lemur experience.” 

In recent years, the number of critically endangered lemur species has more than doubled (from 11 to 24) and endangered lemur species rose from 16 to 49. Sadly, of the 103 lemur species known to exist, about 94% are at risk of extinction. Their status likely makes them the most endangered group of mammals on earth. Experts believe that if things don’t change, many lemurs could be extinct in the wild by 2050. 

Just as troubling, Madagascar has lost upwards of 80% of its original forest and habitat loss continues to pose major threats. The widespread destruction is driven largely by slash and-burn agriculture, illegal logging and mining practices.  

By focusing its conservation efforts on the habitat restoration, lemur population monitoring, creating sustainable employment opportunities, and improving the overall quality of life, the Calgary Zoo is putting communities at the heart of conservation which is the key to success. Only when people prosper can nature benefit. 

As Calgary’s top tourist attraction and Canada’s most visited zoo, the Calgary Zoo is proud to be a natural tourism draw for the city. Annually, the zoo welcomes more than 1.3 million visitors, of which 39% are from out-of-town. 

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Trish Exton-Parder                     Larissa Mark
Lead, Media Relations             Manager, Communications
Calgary Zoo                             Calgary Zoo
Phone: 403.232.9381                 Phone: 403.294.7677
Mobile: 403.371.9075                Mobile: 403.998.0478
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