The Calgary Zoo will be adding a new polar bear exhibit thanks to a multi-million dollar cash injection from Alberta’s provincial government.
The UCP announced Tuesday it will be investing $15.5 million over three years to expand and upgrading the zoo’s preexisting Canadian Wilds habitat, creating larger and more complex habitats and revitalizing the 21-acre space.
Included in the first phase of the redevelopment are polar bears, otters, caribou and whooping cranes.
Fundraising for future phases has already started and includes bison, prairie dogs, grizzlies, cougars and northern leopard frogs.
The zoo’s Canadian Wilds habitat was developed in the 1980s and has undergone minor updates and improvements since then.
It’s expected the redevelopment project will grow the zoo’s annual revenues by $13.4 million and grow its annual contribution to Alberta’s economy to more than $140 million, the UCP said.
“Revitalizing the Canadian Wilds habitat is an important investment that will continue to elevate the zoo as a world-renowned conservation facility,” Alberta Minister of Culture Leela Sharon Aheer said.
The government said the project will create an estimated 240 construction-related jobs and 100 permanent full-time jobs at the zoo in various areas.
“The Calgary Zoo is one of the crown jewels of our province’s tourism industry,” Alberta’s Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer said.
“This latest investment will create hundreds of jobs and ensure that the zoo will continue to be a world-class attraction for years to come.”
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The Calgary Zoo is Canada’s most visited zoo, welcoming more than 1.3 million visitors annually.
It’s home to more than 800 domestic and exotic animals, 270 of which are part of Species Survival Plans.
“As an internationally recognized conservation charity, we are known for our excellence in habitat design and animal care,” Calgary Zoo CEO and president Dr. Clément Lanthier said.
“We are well-suited to support the identified need to provide sanctuary to polar bears and support greater conservation messaging around the critical issues facing wildlife in Canada’s arctic.”