Vancouver Zoo – Family Adventures
The Greater Vancouver Zoo is a 120-acre (49 ha) zoo located in Aldergrove, British Columbia, Canada. Please note from June 8th 2019 entrance to GVZoo will be through a temporary entrance booth located in the lower parking lot while we carry out work on a new entrance.
Dedicated to education and conservation, the Greater Vancouver Zoo is home to many rescued, donated and orphaned animals. The mission of the Greater Vancouver Zoo is to inspire appreciation of our ecosystems and support conservation efforts by engaging the community. Discover the sights and sounds of 140 species on 120 acres in the heart of the Fraser Valley.
Greater Vancouver Zoo
Vancouver Game Farm: 1970–95
In the late 1960s, businessman Pat Hines purchased 120 acres (49 ha) in Aldergrove, British Columbia to construct a game farm. At first, Hines registered the business as the World Wide Game Farm Ltd., but on August 20, 1970, the site was opened to the public as the Vancouver Game Farm. The first animal to arrive was a llama named “Dennis”, who came from Mount Vernon, Washington. Soon after, animals of every size and description began to fill the newly constructed paddocks. Hines operated the game farm with his wife, Ann, other family members, and their employees. Their daughter Eleanor and her husband, Hugh Oakes, eventually took over management of the facility until 1991, when it was sold.
Greater Vancouver Zoological Centre: 1995–99
Under new ownership, the game farm underwent many changes, including a new name. In 1995, it was renamed the Greater Vancouver Zoological Centre, since it is part of the Greater Vancouver area rather than being a part of Vancouver. Improvements included the construction of new animal enclosures, 2 ft (610 mm) narrow-gauge miniature train rides, a picnic park with covered gazebos and barbecues, expanded landscaping, a remodeled entrance, more parking spaces, interpretive and educational programs and activities. In 1998, the North American Wilds exhibit opened, providing a narrative safari bus ride for visitors through one area where carnivores like black bears, coyotes, and Vancouver Island wolves live together; and travel into another habitat where grazers like the Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, and North American plains bison roamed. But after four years, there were more changes.
Greater Vancouver Zoo: 1999–present
In 1999, the facility went through another ownership change and was eventually renamed the much simpler Greater Vancouver Zoo. During this period, the zoo (as with most other zoos and aquariums these days) focused more towards conservation and to building up its educational programs.
In 2000, the Greater Vancouver Zoo joined the Oregon Spotted Frog Recovery Program. At the time, the frog was the only species to receive an “emergency listing” as an endangered species in Canada. The zoo is currently still involved with this program, releasing frogs into the wild after they are weighed, measured, and tagged. Furthermore, many animals have been rescued over the years and eventually released back into the wild, but some animals like “Shadow”, a grizzly bear, could not be returned because she had been abandoned as a young cub and was not able to learn the skills needed to survive in the wild. In addition, the majority of the zoo’s reptiles, exotic birds, various cat species, and many others were taken in for numerous reasons, such as being rescued from the illegal pet trade or after being abandoned as pets.
New educational programs were introduced by the zoo. In 2005, the “Radical Raptor Birds of Prey” show was created, in which eagles, owls, hawks, and falcons performed free flying presentations at the zoo’s amphitheatre. Since then, the zoo has introduced a one-week summer camp program for children ages 10–14 to handle and learn about the many birds of prey species since 2007. In 2006, the zoo opened its indoor “Animalasium – Educational Training Centre” to teach the public about conservation and education for animals and their environments. In addition, the centre will also be used for various other functions, such as birthday parties, group sessions and guest speaker events. Furthermore, the zoo offers educational walking tours for school groups that is based on a B.C. Ministry of Education curriculum.
The new owners also completed building new enclosures for the grizzly bear, the Arctic wolf, the camels, the mountain sheep, and the hippopotamus, while making improvements to the giraffe enclosure. On August 23, 2008, the zoo introduced a pair of muskox to their new 32,000 sq ft (3,000 m2) enclosure, which with the Arctic wolf, Arctic fox, reindeer, and emperor, and snow goose enclosures, completes their new Arctic Section exhibit.
In 1997, two reports by Zoocheck Canada and UK veterinarian Samantha Lindley called on the Greater Vancouver Zoo to improve conditions for the animals it holds, such as rhinoceros and big cats. By 2003, few improvements had been made.
On May 31, 2006, the Crown Counsel of British Columbia laid formal charges against the Greater Vancouver Zoo, in accordance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, for failing to provide adequate facilities for a baby hippo acquired in October 2004. This was the first case of a major Canadian zoo being charged with cruelty to animals. However, in January 2007, the case was stayed, as crown counsel believed, with the opening of a new habitat for hippos, that it was no longer in the public interest. This was not seen as vindication for the Greater Vancouver Zoo nor a statement that charges were unjustified. The zoo eventually lost its Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums accreditation over this incident for two years. In May 2008, someone broke into the zoo when it was closed, entered the spider monkey enclosure, killed Jocko (the male monkey), and kidnapped Mia (the female monkey). The case is still unsolved and there is currently a $3,000 reward for Mia’s safe return.
In June 2008, the zoo made headlines when Skye, a female golden eagle, was killed by a lioness after landing in the lion enclosure, following a run-in with a murder of crows.
Two months after that incident, a four-year-old boy was landed on by a Harris’s hawk when he volunteered in the Radical Raptors Birds of Prey show. According to the zoo’s spokesperson, the hawk mistook the boy’s head for a perch. However, questions have been raised as to what motivated the bird to leap off the lure and fly towards the boy. After the incident, the zoo removed Harris’s hawks from the bird show and put a stop to audience participation.
On April 20, 2009, it was reported that four zebras had died in early March, shortly after two African buffalo were introduced to their enclosure. The zoo did not make the incident public at the time. A spokesperson for the Vancouver Humane Society stated that the zebras were between five and 15 years old, and probably died from exertional myopathy, a muscle disease causing damage to muscle tissues which is caused by physiological changes (often extreme exertion, struggle, or stress). The spokesperson also stated that African buffalo are extremely dangerous and although the two species co-exist in the wild, they should not have been placed together in an enclosed space. The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has launched an investigation of the incident, while the Vancouver Humane Society will ask the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums to investigate the incident and review the zoo’s accreditation. The zoo replaced the dead animals with two new zebras.
Two giraffes died within a week in November 2011 — both three-year-old Amryn and 23-year-old Eleah were found dead inside their barns. A 12-year-old giraffe was found dead inside its barn November 4, 2012.
Petting Zoo Vancouver
Our kids are nuts for animals. When they aren’t pretending to be them, they love any opportunity to hang out with furry, feathery, creepy-crawly, or slithery friends. We love visiting the Zoo and we’ve enjoyed many afternoons at the Aquarium, but sometimes we want a different animal experience. We’re talking farms, petting zoos, and other ways to get up close to animals in a safe and friendly environment. We love that these opportunities give our kiddos the chance to learn all about animals and what goes in to caring for them. If possible, they fall even more in love with animals each time we go on one of these outings!
Here are a whole bunch of places in Metro Vancouver where you and your family can visit with animals.
This is the classic way to get up close with friendly animals, but beyond holding out for the fair, where can you pet some cute little goats and snuggle with soft bunnies? The Queen’s Park Petting Farm in New Westminster is one place to go, kids will get to learn about and have contact with a wide assortment of common farm animals. Another place to check out is the Petting Zoo at Gagan Farm Market. They have long eared bunnies, waddling ducks, honking geese, silly goats, loveable ponies, and lots of exotic birds!
Vancouver Zoo Prices
|Student (18+ with ID)||$23.00|
|Children 2 and under||Free|
|Train (available to purchase at the front gate upon admission)||$5.00|
You may also purchase gift certificates online for any of the above day passes, or a yearly membership as a gift for a family member or friend.
We accept Cash, Debit, Visa and MasterCard.
Pay parking is a $6.00 flat rate. Parking meters are found just inside the Zoo’s entrance. The parking meters will ask for your parking stall number and accept the following forms of payment: Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. No bills are accepted. Cost is $6 for the whole day.
Parking is maintained and monitored regularly by Impark. The Greater Vancouver Zoo is not responsible for lost or stolen items left in your vehicles or on the premises. Please do not leave anything of value unattended.