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Calgary Zoo cancels Illuminasia Lantern and Garden Festival

Calgary Zoo announced it has cancelled its Illuminasia Lantern and Garden Festival.
Calgary Zoo announced it has cancelled its Illuminasia Lantern and Garden Festival. Courtesy: @veinywillow, Twitter

The ailing economy in Alberta has claimed another victim, with the Calgary Zoo announcing it has cancelled its Illuminasia Lantern and Garden Festival.

The zoo said the event has attracted 100,000 visitors over the past couple of years, but that’s still not enough to make the event sustainable in the current climate.

“People just weren’t willing to spend the money the same way they were the year before, even,” spokesperson Lindsey Galloway said.

The festival was first held in fall 2015 and again last fall. During the months-long festival the zoo was lit up with nearly 200 animal lanterns highlighting the 800-year tradition of Chinese lantern making.

Galloway said 1.32 million people visited the Calgary Zoo in 2016, making it the most-visited zoo in the entire country.

But, he said the number of people attending the festival dropped from 60,000 in 2015 to 41,000 in in 2016.

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“We looked hard at a variety of different ways to make it work, a number of different options [like] just reusing the same lanterns as we had in inventory,” Galloway said. “Even with the economy recovering, we couldn’t see anything beyond a break-even … we’re a charitable organization with limited resources.”

READ MORE: Calgary Zoo introduces Christmas party for businesses hit by economic slump

Galloway said the zoo is busy with a number of promotions and new exhibits in the next year-and-a-half, including the upcoming lemur exhibit and welcoming the giant pandas, which are expected in 2018.

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