We at the Greater Vancouver Zoo were very concerned to hear about a patron’s experiences at the Greater Vancouver Zoo, and would like to respond to the comments she brought forward to the editor [Zoo doesn’t match fond memories, Oct. 18 Letters, Langley Advance].
First we would like to sincerely apologize for the unpleasant greeting she received at our front admission.
When you are greeted at the zoo we want it to be a great first impression that will stay with you the rest of the day, and perhaps even after you leave. We work hard at providing appropriate training and coaching to our staff, and without hearing from our guests as to how we are doing, we sometimes are not aware of where we need to focus more efforts on additional training.
In respect to pricing, we charge $22.25 for adults, of which $0.25 goes towards conservation efforts in the wild. Currently, we are supporting three projects: The Iranian Cheetah Project, The Guatemalan Yellow- Naped Amazon Parrot, and the Indian Horned Bill Nest.
One hundred per cent of the proceeds go directly back to those projects.
Even though we don’t house those animals, we want to help support them in the wild.
And yes I agree the Calgary Zoo is a fantastic facility. They charge $21 for adults, similar pricing to ours, although they are a city-run facility with much more corporate and government funding than we have. Our funding comes directly from admission, school groups, private events, behind the scenes, corporate groups, and small camp groups.
It is expensive to run a facility such as ours, and we are always looking for new ways to help raise funds to continually enhance what we are doing.
The bald eagles have an enclosure in the North American section of the zoo and are rescue eagles. They were hit by vehicles and would have been euthanized, since their wings were broken. We were called by conservation officers and asked if we would take them in our facility for educational purposes.
After careful consideration, the Zoo decided to take on the project and build a new facility, strictly for these bald eagles that were unable to fly anymore.
Here is the link to our Press Release http://gvzoo.com/node/307 where we announced this new rescue project.
The eagles are unable to fly although they do hop and walk around their enclosure. All birds of prey only fly when they are hunting, otherwise they conserve their energy and stay perched. The more they fly, the more chance they have of injuring themselves and then being unable to fly in order to find food for themselves.
The rhino – our dear, sweet “Charlie” – is our oldest animal at the Zoo. We believe he is in his mid-40s.
Charlie is by himself at this stage in his life – it would be too stressful to introduce another friend to him. He has rheumatoid arthritis and he definitely is slowing down, although he routinely goes out to graze.
We refill his mud hole so that he can have his regular mud baths.
There is no barbed wire fence in his enclosure or around it.
We trim his horn regularly as he ages, as he seems less interested to maintain his horn-trimming on his own. His horn is made of compressed keratin fibers, the same material that is found in our fingernails and hair, so it doesn’t hurt him to do this.
When younger, rhinos maintain their horn trimming for a defensive territory for females. As Charlie ages this has lessened over the years, leading his horn shape to change, and so that is where we step in.
He is starting to lose his hearing, and is on regular medication to help him with his aches and pains, like most seniors.
Is he in unbearable pain and does he not move around? No. He loves his daily rubs, leg massages, and scratches, in addition to many special treatments that he receives from our dedicated animal care staff.
On a daily basis he moves around both his indoor and outdoor enclosure, along with eating (on a restricted senior diet), and yes, has regular bowel movements.
You monitor an animal’s health usually by their eating, drinking, bowel movements, weight, general behaviour etc. He receives regular check-ups with our Animal Health Technician and our Veterinarian.
Charlie doing pretty well for his age.
The wallaby mentioned is “Coco,” and she does have a friend with her. Coco may have been asleep.
When wallabies sleep, they sit back on their tail and usually stay a little bit away from the fence area in order to have some quiet time. People get excited when they see animals, and sometimes will talk or even yell to get their attention.
We haven’t seen the shaking behaviour mentioned. It is helpful if any unusual behaviour in any of our animals is reported to a keeper or the front admission immediately, so that we can check it out.
Throughout the day we hold interpretive educational talks that provide some really great information about the animals and what we do for them while they are in our care.
In respect to construction, there is a large sign at the entrance of zoo that explains our construction areas, as does our website. Signs are also posted where the construction is happening.
We tried to complete the construction during the off-season; unfortunately we were not able to, for numerous reasons.
Most of the construction has now been completed, and we have a wonderful new walk-through area in the North American section of the zoo.
This is just another area of enhancement at the zoo where we replaced a diesel bus going through the North American section, to provide a more natural walkway that would be better for the animals, the environment, and the people visiting – by not breathing in diesel.
We are always making efforts to move forward and always looking at ways to enhance the lives of the animals that are in our care. Everyone at the Greater Vancouver Zoo is very passionate about animals and their well-being.
Jody Henderson, Greater Vancouver Zoo