The Edmonton Valley Zoo officially opened its new $25.3-million renovation on Friday.
Phase one of Nature’s Wild Backyard features an urban farm, a new red panda habitat and play space and a new restaurant.
“The urban farm is an immersive experience with a large barn, green roof, interactive farm yard and the new 40Acres restaurant,” according to a news release announcing the changes.
“The goal of the urban farm is to create a deeper personal experience and understanding of a working farm while educating people about food sustainability and local agriculture.”
While at the urban farm, visitors will see pigs, ponies, cows, sheep, rabbits, cats, bees and chickens. There are also goats that have access to what’s described as a “360-degree green roof.”
“Nature’s Wild Backyard will further establish the zoo as a leader in its field, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to animal welfare, education, conservation and environmental stewardship,” director Lindsey Galloway said. “Not only that, it promises to engage and entertain all visitors, and we hope they love it as much as we do.”
The new red panda habitat and play space is next to the farm. The exhibit is designed to let visitors get closer to the animals, the zoo said. Kids will have a unique view of the red pandas in the new play area that is right next to the habitat.
The new red panda building that’s part of the enclosure can house up to four breeding pairs. According to the zoo, that is essential to the zoo’s participation in the international Red Panda Species Survival Plan.
Red pandas have been classified as endangered since 2008.
“This truly is a place of learning and discovery,” Mayor Don Iveson said. “The City of Edmonton is proud to be creating a vibrant new zoo with improved habitats and better opportunities for guests to closely interact with animals.”
Most of the phase one construction was funded by the City of Edmonton. The Valley Zoo Development Society contributed $3 million and $575,000 came from the government’s Community Facility Enhancement Program.