Calgary Zoo Flood Protection Project

In 2013, the Calgary Zoo was inundated with flood waters, causing more than $50 million in damages. This singular event caused widespread damage to the zoo and it took nearly five months before the zoo was fully able to reopen.

Welcoming 1.3 million visitors in 2015 and generating $79 million in annual economic impact (Grant Thornton Economic Impact Study), the zoo puts Calgary on the map as a major tourist destination. The zoo is an international leader in conservation, a treasured family activity and a critical component of Calgary’s culture. We are grateful for the support of The City of Calgary for this project. 

The City of Calgary’s Zoo Flood Mitigation Project will protect the zoo against a flood to a level of a one-in-100 year event – that’s a metre above the 2013 flood levels.

Watch the video below for a progess update after Phase 1 completion.

About the project

  • The barrier consists of a below- and above-ground steel wall around the perimetre of St. George's Island.
  • Below ground, the steel is driven to bedrock, creating an impermeable barrier against seepage.
  • The wall itself will be designed to be esthetically pleasing.
  • Other flood protection measures will include pumps to dispel water that might enter the zoo.
  • The machinery used to build the barrier is large and could be loud, anticipated to be about 85 dba which is slightly louder than average street traffic.
  • Piling work will begin at 7 a.m. and continue until 7 p.m., Monday to Friday. General construction activities may take place from 7 a.m. -10 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. on weekends


  • Construction began in March 2016 and is anticipated to be completed in late 2017.
  • The zoo’s West Gate will remained closed in 2016 and 2017.
  • Piling work will be paused during the zoo’s busy summer months, from June until September.
  • Phase two of piling work will begin on September 12, 2016. 

Will the work affect my visit?

The zoo will remain fully open and operational throughout the flood mitigation construction; working to ensure visitors continue to have an enjoyable and educational experience at the zoo. This work is crucial to ensure that the zoo is around for future conservationists.

What about the animals?

The focus on this project is to ensure the least amount of disruption to the animals. The welfare of the animals is the zoo’s license to operate so we will monitor conditions continously throughout the construction period. There are plans in place should some of the animals need to be relocated. There has also been collaboration with ENMAX to relocate the osprey’s nest due to be sensitive to the birds’ needs during the time of construction.

How do I get to the zoo?

Along with the construction of a barrier around the zoo, The City of Calgary is also taking the opportunity to do some improvements to Zoo Road. With the closure of this road, zoo visitors can still enter the zoo through the main entrance at the North Gate at 201 St. George’s Drive NE. Click here for directions to the zoo.

Where can I learn more?

Please visit our visitor centre located in the Discovery Centre on zoo grounds. It is slated to open in May 2016. 

For more details on The City of Calgary’s Zoo Flood Mitigation Project, including road and pathway closures, please visit the official project site.