A Visit to the Calgary Zoo

Our planned 5-night stay at Cochrane to visit family ended up being extended by a day, and it was a busy time with lots of activities as well as quiet times with my daughter, Andrea, and her family. The Calgary Zoo is always a great place to take the family.

The Bow RiversEdge Campground is perfect for us, and makes the 1/2-hour commute to Airdrie, where my daughter lives, worthwhile. The 144-site campground just opened in 2005, is run by the Lions and Rotary clubs so earnings go back into the community, and the quality of the facilities and the maintenance is at a very high level.

Bow RiversEdge Campground, Cochrane, Alberta
The sites are a reasonable size, with hedges for privacy, a patch of grass, and a picnic table and firepit. The cost is $44.10 per night including taxes. Apparently the free wifi is sketchy so I pay $16.95 per week for a faster service.

Bow RiversEdge Campground, Cochrane, Alberta
The more time we spend in Cochrane, the more we like it. Many other people apparently have the same feeling, because it’s growing very rapidly, so some of the things that we like about it may not last.

Cochrane, Alberta
Cochrane’s location on the Bow River, in the foothills of the Rockies, is certainly part of its draw for Cathy and I. This is the view looking southwest over Cochrane on Highway 1a.

Cochrane, Alberta
Our first day was spent close to “home”, as the motorhome was at Crystal Glass getting the windshields removed and re-installed. Even Molly got to join the dogs and us relaxing at the picnic table, and for a ride in the car. She’s turned into quite an adventurer 🙂

Our cat and dogs at the campsite in Cochrane

We got the motorhome back mid-afternoon, and I sent a note to Crystal Glass’ head office: “I want to publicly pass on my thanks to Bart Gretz and his crew at the Cochrane branch for exceptional service. I had both windshields in my Class A motohome installed by All-West Glass in Whitehorse a month ago, and by the time I hit southern BC they were leaking badly (I had to put a bucket under the worst leak on heavy-rain days). I couldn’t find a shop in Kelowna who could fix it, but called ahead and Bart said to bring it in when we got to Cochrane. The original installation was so bad that the windshields had to be removed and re-installed. Bart explained and photographed the problems, explained what he had to do in detail, and even dealt with the Whitehorse shop who agreed to pay for the job. A few hours later we were back on the road with at-least-as-good-as-new windshields, and could continue on our journey stress-free. My wife and I can’t thank them enough.”

One of the attractions of Cochrane generally and the campground specifically is the leash-free park that runs for a kilometer or so along the Bow River, with a gate into it 100 yards or so from our campsite. It’s a multi-use park, and the leash-free section ties into more of the park, so some cyclists and walkers are apparently not happy about it, though we saw no indication of that.

Leash-free dog park in Cochrane
Bella got to play with 2 of her sisters again, and at various times during that 2 hours, other dogs of all sizes joined in. The park has been wonderful socialization for Tucker, who was getting more and confident each day, even approaching the largest dogs.

Leash-free dog park on the Bow River in Cochrane
We’ve always wondered which breeds went into making Tucker. In Cochrane, we met 2 miniature Australian shepherds, and if you add a big tail and change the colour, they’re pretty much identical to Tucker. We spent many hours at the park – the kids always came away happy and tired, which s a great combination, especially when we were going out on an activity that they couldn’t go to.

Leash-free dog park in Cochrane

Cathy and I went to an Open House at my grand-daughters’ high school, and (as usual), I regretting not taking my camera, because they put on a very impressive show. W. H. Croxford is a P3 school – a private public partnership – and the facilities are programs they have are quite incredible to an old guy who started school 60 years ago in a 2-room, 8-grade school. Talking to some of the teachers, I have no doubt that this school has played a big part in the development of girls that this grandpa is very proud of.

Our first “tourist” activity with Andrea and my grand-daughters was a visit to the Calgary Zoo. I’d been there before, but it was Cathy’s first visit. I love seeing the penguins.

Penguins at the Calgary Zoo
I have mixed feelings about zoos, but I doubt that there’s any doubt about the educational value of a zoo that’s as well run as the Calgary one is. Having underwater viewing of animals like the penguins is pretty cool, and the animals seem to enjoy it as well – a safe way to get up close and personal to some of those odd 2-legged animals walking by.

Penguins at the Calgary Zoo
Big cats are particularly special to me – as well as their beauty, it may be their apex-predator position that impresses me. The contradictory part of that is that big cats and brown bears are 2 of the animals that I most dislike to see in cages.

 at the Calgary Zoo
We arrived at the tiger enclosure just before feeding time. Now that’s a display of power! I’d like to tell you more about each of the animals I’m posting photos of, but I’m writing this in Jasper, and it may be quite a few days until I have Internet access for long enough to do more than just post what I write rather than do background research to pass on as I prefer to do.

 at the Calgary Zoo
We heard a few interpreters around the zoo – Greg did a particularly engaging job at the rhinoceros pen. Easy to hear, easy to understand, and even fun.

Interpreter at the rhinoceros pen at the Calgary Zoo
A rhinoceros wasn’t built to win any beauty contests, but Greg’s talk about them will have everybody appreciate them more when they walk away.

A rhinoceros at the Calgary Zoo
Beside the pen of the massive Komodo Dragon, who wasn’t being very photo-friendly, were some of his much smaller cousins who were 🙂

Lizard at the Calgary Zoo
I was surprised to hear, and then see, that some people are afraid of butterflies! This huge one, 7-8 inches across, was right inside the door of their habitat, where they fly free among visitors.

Butterfly at the Calgary Zoo
This looks like a really good place for a butterfly to spend its short life – constant good weather, plentiful food, and no predators.

Butterfly at the Calgary Zoo
I used to find bats to be quite creepy (watching too much TV as a kid perhaps – bats are always creepy on TV), but I find them to be quite intriguing now.

Bats at the Calgary Zoo
The gorilla cage turned out to be my favourite spot this time. Watching this mother and her new baby was very special. Does seeing this sort of tenderness help us understand that gorillas deserve to have their wild habitat protected by doing things like recycling our cellphones as a poster beside the cage says? Perhaps. But for an animal this intelligent to spend its entire life in jail…

Gorilla with her new baby at the Calgary Zoo
My girls having a chat with a rock hyrax 🙂

Rock hyrax at the Calgary Zoo
Who doesn’t love meerkats? They are just sooooo cute! Getting some warm sun on their tummies drew a good crowd 🙂

Meerkats at the Calgary Zoo
The underwater viewing windows are the best place to get a good look at the hippos.

Hippo at the Calgary Zoo
And finally, a photo for Cathy, of her favourite animal, the giraffe. High on our bucket list is a trip to see lots of them in the wild.

Giraffes at the Calgary Zoo

That takes up to end of Day 35 of the trip – lots more Adventures to come 🙂


A Visit to the Calgary Zoo — 3 Comments

  1. Wow talk about bring back memories , I too always had mixed feelings when it came to zoos but the Calgary zoo was more spacious and seemed to be more animal friendly so to say although I agree I hate seeing the cats , bears and gorillas caged it’s heartbreaking but it is what it is . On a lighter note always found the butterfly garden magical thank you Murray for the memories looking forward to the remainder of the trip

  2. Good stuff. Proud papa and grandpapa!

    Zoos…they still seem to serve a purpose, but only the better one’s. Sad to see the pacing, the empty eyes… Loved that first butterfly pic- the ends of the wingtips look like they could be a snake head or a bald eagle…a disguise for life in the wild perhaps?

    Glad you got the windshield boondoogle out of the way and that the 2nd shop helped out in putting your mind at ease – and also helped in getting reimbursement from the first sets of guys who screwed things up.

    • Yes, that butterfly’s wingtip are very impressive, and I expect that they’re an effective deterrent to some attacks out in the real world.