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Second Nature

New features and facilities bring the zoo’s natural habitat in Edmonton’s river valley to life.

Edmonton, Alberta

Get closer to nature

The Edmonton Valley Zoo is not the same storybook-themed zoo it was when it opened in the 1959. This design is part of series of upgrades to the zoo that focuses on getting guests closer to nature. This project includes a new entrance featuring arrival, entry and orientation plazas, a café, gift shop, and an education and guest service centre. A central circulation path called The Wander tells the story of the North Saskatchewan River as it moves guests throughout the zoo.

Exploring the zoo's natural habitat

The circulation path, known as The Wander, tells the story of the North Saskatchewan River, starting in the Rocky Mountain glaciers, trickling through the foothills and across Alberta’s aspen parkland before winding around the site of the Edmonton Valley Zoo. The path features river otters and fish habitats, interpretive features, wetlands, and other plants and wildlife native to the North Saskatchewan River.

Visit the zoo without paying

The entry plaza is designed to be a welcoming space for visitors and the community. You don’t have to pay admission to enjoy the plaza’s café and patio, gift shop, rest areas, and playful water features. You can even get a glimpse at the river otters playing—their habitat extends into the entry plaza. Families and cyclists using the nearby river valley parks and trails often stop in for a snack and water bottle refill.

Natural surroundings

All of the buildings and landscape features echo the surrounding North Saskatchewan River valley. The impressive rammed earth wall that greets visitors is made with stratified soil that can be seen in the river banks nearby. The buildings are designed to look and feel as though they emerged from the valley.

Project facts

Cost: $25 Million
Completed: July 2014
Collaborators: Studio Hansen Roberts, T. A. Maranda, Natural Systems International, Ion Irrigation
Builder: Stuart Olson Dominion
Client: City of Edmonton

Achievements & Awards

Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) Awards of Excellence - Regional Merit