Last month, I travelled to Calgary to hang with a conspiracy of lemurs. (What? You’ve never done that?) I watched them forage and frolic while being directly immersed in their habitat. Frankly, it was incredible.
I know a fair amount of my readers have spent the year discovering more of our beautiful country. With Canada 150 celebrations happening from coast to coast, it’s the perfect time to explore our home and native land. And if you have plans to visit Calgary this fall or next summer, I want you to include the Calgary Zoo in your plans. Here’s why.
During the warm weather months, visitors to the Calgary Zoo can get up close and personal with the lemurs in their brand new outdoor habitat: Land of Lemurs. The open concept environment allows guests to become immersed in the lemurs’ world, discovering what they do best: play, groom, leap between trees, search for food and soak up the sun!
In the habitat, you’ll find black-and-white ruffed lemurs, red fronted lemurs and ring-tailed lemurs. The conservation status for the lemurs ranges from near-threatened to critically endangered, and the new habitat provides the zoo with the perfect opportunity to create community conservation projects in Madagascar, as well as create engaging opportunities for visitors to learn about these loveable primates.
Our family had the opportunity to explore the habitat on a beautiful Saturday morning. (You too can beat the lines with early morning access to Land of Lemurs.) Your visit will begin with a quick introduction from an Education team member, including fun facts about the lemur species, their origins in Madagascar and the Calgary Zoo’s conservation efforts. Then, it’s time to tour the habitat!
The key thing to *always* keep in mind is that when entering Land of Lemurs, you are entering their world. Translation: they’re wild animals, and the utmost respect for their environment is necessary. Guests are encouraged to observe the lemurs without disrupting their habitat; actions and movements should be careful, gentle and never in a way that is aggressive or invades their space. And, because lemurs eat a fibre-packed diet, care should also be taken when walking under them!
So, what makes Land of Lemurs a “must see” when visiting Calgary?
1. A conversation about conservation. Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot and the only place in the world where lemurs are found. Tragically, the island has lost up to 90 per cent of its original forest cover, and habitat loss and fragmentation continue to be the primary threats to lemurs. The Calgary Zoo is taking action to protect lemurs and the unique biodiversity found in Madagascar through a community conservation project which will support reforestation efforts.
2. A unique experience for animal lovers. Land of Lemurs is the first immersive lemur habitat in Canada! It’s a bona fide hit with children and adults alike. During our visit, I spotted awe-struck kids of all ages and some serious camera equipment-toting portrait photographers. Whether you’re simply curious about lemurs or are looking to score a Nat Geo-worthy shot, the Calgary Zoo is the only place Canadians can enjoy of this one-of-a-kind engaging habitat.
Worth noting, in addition to the outdoor walkthrough 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. (During evenings and winter months, the lemurs are housed in a heated building that can be viewed from exterior windows in Land of Lemurs.)
3. Come for the lemurs, stay for a world-class experience. Visit the Rainforest Alliance conservation tent for a conservation lesson in spotting eco-friendly products at your local grocery store. Wander through the Dorothy Harvie Gardens, stopping in the ENMAX Conservatory for the butterfly gardens and the Garden of Life (including banana, coffee trees, pomegranates and olives). Grab a photo op in front of the lemur mosaic – made of living plants!
Below: Reid with Trish Exton-Parder, Media Relations Lead at Calgary Zoo. She and Justine Brenneis, Digital Communications Assistant, generously spent their Saturday morning with us, offering insight on the zoo’s many conservation undertakings, captive breeding programs and visitor education. They also provided Reid with a once-in-a-lifetime up close encounter with the zoo’s Rose Tarantula. Since I’m terrified of spiders, you won’t see photos here – but you can see a quick video via my husband’s Instagram!
Once in Eurasia, visit the snow leopards, red pandas and Amur tigers. If you time your visit for spring 2018, be sure to stop by the Panda Passage, which will welcome four giant pandas from the Toronto Zoo!
Overall, I feel very fortunate to have experienced Land of Lemurs, and look forward to returning to Calgary specifically to visit with my furry friends once again. If you’re looking to visit a Canadian destination this year or next, and Calgary is on your short list, please add the Calgary Zoo to your list of “must do” attractions.
And while you’re there, say hello to this little guy for me.
Special thanks to the Calgary Zoo for hosting my family. For more information, please visit calgaryzoo.com.