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the Edmonton Valley Zoo's focus on continuous learning best practices in veterinary medicine, nutrition, enrichments and habitat design.

The Edmonton Valley Zoo is proud to have true stewards who work to provide our animals with the highest quality of care. These living, breathing, individual animals of the Edmonton Valley Zoo are the soul of our facility. 

Animal Care Strategies

To ensure the animals receive around-the-clock quality care, the Edmonton Valley Zoo team focuses on continuous learning and employing best practices in veterinary medicine, nutrition, enrichments and habitat design.

A new veterinary hospital opened in 2010. It includes a surgery, laboratory, quarantine area and space for animals needing longer-term care. The new facility, along with advanced medical equipment, will allow the zoo's veterinarian, animal health technologists and other staff to more effectively and efficiently care for the animals.

The zoo has also implemented the Zoo Information Management System –  an international electronic records database – to enhance local care, protect population health and support international conservation efforts.

Currently, plans are underway to establish an Animal Care Committee that will pull together expertise from various sources to strengthen the focus on animal enrichment, nutritional standards and behavioural training.

Zoo Animal Caregivers

The Edmonton Valley Zoo care team all have 1 thing in common — a love for animals. They care for more than 350 animals at the Edmonton Valley Zoo on a daily basis.

Veterinary Staff

The team celebrated the opening of an on-site hospital last fall. Improvements include a surgery, laboratory, quarantine area and space for animals needing longer-term care. The facility, along with advanced medical equipment, will allow the zoo's veterinarian, animal health technologists and zookeepers to more effectively and efficiently care for the animals, including snow leopards, red pandas, zebras, and Siberian tigers.

Zookeepers

Zookeepers also perform important jobs, ensuring the animals are safe and healthy on a daily basis. They prepare appropriate meals for the animals, clean animal enclosures, create enrichment activities, and assist the veterinary team in the care of all the Edmonton Valley Zoo animals.
 

Animal Enrichment

At the Edmonton Valley Zoo, animal enrichment is an important part of day-to-day animal care. Daily enrichment is a requirement for all AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, including the Edmonton Valley Zoo. More than 350 animals live at the Zoo, situated on the shores of the North Saskatchewan River in the heart of Edmonton. Caregivers work together to support the nutritional, medical and behavioural needs of every animal.

Types of Enrichment

The Zoo staff use 5 categories of enrichment. These types of enrichment are not mutually exclusive and often overlap.

Food Enrichment

The Edmonton Valley Zoo applies food enrichment in a wide variety of ways. Enrichments might engage hunting or foraging - natural behaviours in some animals. Food enrichment also encourages problem-solving. Food is often hidden, buried or placed differently in animal enclosures, so the animals must follow their senses to the food.

Physical Enrichment

The Zoo staff work hard to change the animal's physical environment everyday, ensuring the habitats are interesting and engaging for the animals. Objects in the enclosures may be moved or changed; perching branches might be rearranged; new objects may be introduced or even hidden.

Sensory Enrichment

Animal senses (taste, smell, sound, sight and touch) are enhanced with different methods. Sensory enrichment is quite varied and may engage many senses at once. For example, the Edmonton Valley Zoo has a music and art program for animals, where Lucy the elephant loves to paint and play the drums.

Olfactory enrichment (smell)

Prey scents, new scents, spices, or perfumes may be used to engage the sense of smell. 

Auditory enrichment (sound)

Devices are used in some of our animal enclosures to emit natural sound recordings or animal vocalizations. 

Visual enrichment (sight) 

Various colours, videos and mirrors are used to engage the animals. 

Tactile enrichment (touch)

Textured materials, such as papier-mache, soft items or wood may be placed in enclosures to engage the sense of touch.

Cognitive Enrichment

Cognitive enrichment stimulates the animal thought process and conditions the brain in new ways. Things like puzzle feeders and problem solving activities are used for cognitive enrichment. 

Social Enrichment

The Zookeepers are always thinking of new creative ways to enrich an animal's day through behaviour training or socialization. Some animals are tractable, so the keepers are able to take them out to socialize with visitors.

How You Can Help

Help ensure animals are "tuned" into the world around them through animal enrichment.

  • Make a donation to the Valley Zoo Development Society. Donations to the Adopt an Animal Program go toward enrichment.
  • Encourage your school to support the Music Enrichment Program. We are currently looking for donations of new or used musical instruments. Some instruments our animals enjoy are drums, recorders and xylophones. Donations are accepted at the Administration Building in the Saito Centre.
  • Donate building materials and spices to help build enrichments. Donations are accepted at the Administration Building in the Saito Centre.

For More Information

Edmonton Valley Zoo

13315 Buena Vista Road (87th Avenue)
PO Box 2359
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2R7

Telephone In Edmonton: 311
Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311
Email attractions@edmonton.ca

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