Greater Vancouver Zoo offers exotic outing

Walk on the wild side just over the border


photo by Lance Henderson

Lemurs frolic on a log at the Greater Vancouver Zoo.


In a bear market, the human beast can grow weary of trekking through the urban jungle.

Stalking a big deal and sniffing out the next business lead can wear on the two-legged animals and leave them hungry for adventure. As the temperatures warm, these human animals stretch muscles tightened by a long winter, adjust their eyes to the sun and realize their hunger for adventure can no longer be ignored.

For those restless beasts and their cubs, the year-round Greater Vancouver Zoo has attractions and activities to satisfy even the wiliest temperaments.

Jody Henderson, public relations director for the Greater Vancouver Zoo, said during the zoo’s peak season (April to September), the zoo is a flurry of activity with scheduled talks from zookeepers, feeding presentations, and educational demonstrations.

“There is always something to see and do, but if you don’t want to do any of that, you are welcome to just wander around. That leaves it up to you to determine how much or little activity you experience,” Henderson said.

Henderson said the zoo provides an outdoor, educational experience to many Canadian schools, but families from Vancouver, Chilliwack and Bellingham are also drawn to the zoo for an exotic outing that is an escape from the everyday.

“Family is a big focus for us,” Henderson said. “It’s a great place to come for a day trip.”

The Greater Vancouver Zoo, which is just over the border north of Lynden, is set up more like a park than a zoo, with large, walkable paths where bikes and rollerblades are encouraged. Picnic benches and green spaces are sprinkled throughout the zoo inviting patrons to take it slow and maybe have a picnic. The zoo even plays relaxing, Zen-like music for ambiance.

Before setting off to visit all the animals up close, Henderson recommended the Safari Express miniature train, which takes visitors on a 12- to 15-minute narrated tour around the perimeter of the zoo.

“That’s always a big hit with the kids because it’s fun and educational at the same time,” Henderson said.

Once inside, visitors can marvel at the African Savannah enclosures, which feature lions, giraffes, and a rhinoceros, or perhaps they would like a cold-blooded visit with the snakes and lizards in the vivarium exhibit.

“We also have our Meet-a-Reptile presentation at 11 a.m. everyday, so the kids get to see a reptile up close along with a vivarium keeper,” Henderson said.

Patrons can also visit with Shadow, the zoo’s grizzly bear, arctic foxes, ibexes and wolves. The zoo also boasts a 15-minute bus ride through the North American Wilds section of the zoo, where visitors get up close and personal with bison, deer and black bears. The narrated bus tour makes frequent stops along the way for people to take pictures and learn about the different species in the enclosure.

Over near the lion enclosures, Surrey resident Wilma DuBrow pointed to the lions as her 3-year-old son, Maximilian, squealed and cheered while kicking his legs.

DuBrow said she gave birth to her son while on a mission trip to Kenya and likes to bring him to the zoo, especially to the lions, so they can remember their time there.

“It might be more for me, since he probably doesn’t remember being there, but he goes bonkers whenever we see the lions,” DuBrow said.

As she spoke, Maximilian released inaudible screeches of joy as the giant cats paced nearby.

“He’s my little lion,” she said.

DuBrow said she loves coming to the zoo to just stroll around and relax.

“There is something about the zoo on a weekday that is so peaceful to me,” she said. “You have fresh air and the sounds of all these different animals all around you.”



All photos by Lance Henderson




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