Lions and tigers and bears (and ostrich and hippopotamus and giraffe and flamingos). Oh, my! There’s awesome animal fun for the whole family at the Greater Vancouver Zoo.
The Zoo has been a fixture in the Fraser Valley since 1970. Over the years it has evolved into an impressive facility dedicated to conservation and educational activities, promoting respect and connectedness to the natural world. It covers an impressive 120 acres and has animals, reptiles, and birds.
Take a stroll along a mostly flat, wide, paved path that takes you from African Savannah through South America, the North American Wilds, the Arctic, and finally Asia. Be make sure to bring your walking shoes (and bikes and scooters) and anticipate spending at least two hours exploring the expansive exhibits.
While much of the Zoo is a DIY experience, you walk from enclosure to enclosure, read signs, and search for the animals within, the Zoo also hosts a series of Keeper Talks throughout the day. You might be able to see a lion feed or learn all about turtles. We highly recommend catching the Radical Raptor Keeper Talk, if you can. It’s a super informative show that has a cool interactive element for brave adult volunteers.
Definitely make a point to hop on the Safari train; it’s a 20-minute narrated trip around the perimeter of the Zoo. It’s a fabulous way to see the entire Zoo when little legs get too tired. Just make sure to buy your train tickets at the front gate when you enter, the train rides book up early.
When the adults need a break from walking, take a seat under a tree at the playground and let your kids loose. It’s one of our kiddo’s favourite playgrounds, it has lots of places to climb, slide, and hang — only the baboon enclosure rivals for coolest play apparatus!
The Zoo is more than just a place to see wild and exotic animals; it’s a wonderful place to learn about animal conservation. We love the many conservation efforts the Zoo is involved with. From local wildlife rehabilitation for the Oregon spotted frog and western painted turtle, to their latest program, Quarters for Conservation, which funds conservation efforts through Wildlife Preservation Canada, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and the International Rhino Foundation.
Tips and tricks for an awesome Zoo visit:
- The Zoo is huge. Too big, in fact, for little legs to make it around the entire 120 acres on foot. So plan for that — it’s one giant paved loop, so strollers make it around no problem. You can rent 4-person parent-powered pedal bikes near the gift shop, or you can bring your bikes and scooters from home (which is what we do).
- There are a few places to buy food at the Zoo, but it’s just as easy to bring in your own picnic lunch and snacks. There’s a big shaded eating area by the playground near the entrance, and another one part way through the park, located across from the Yellow Baboons and by Lemur Island. Or you can grab a bench in the shade along the loop and picnic there.
- Go early. When the sun is scorching, animals go hide. Since a lot of the enclosures are really big, chances are you won’t be able to find them. But if you go early, you’ll spot a ton more animals and you won’t want to run for shade so quickly yourself.
- Book a train ride. Make sure you grab your train tickets as soon as you get to the park at the entrance gate with your admission. The train fills up quickly each day.
- Take a look at the map on entry and note where the bathrooms are. There are a few long stretches where bathrooms are pretty far away. You might want to snap a picture of the map on your phone — the Zoo is big on conservation, and that means they don’t hand out paper maps at the gate.
- If you think you might visit the Zoo more than once or twice a year, a membership is worth it. Considering it covers parking, train rides, and gets you discounts at the gift shop, concession stand, and bike rental; it’s a pretty great deal. The Zoo is partnered with other Metro Vancouver and BC attractions so you’ll get discounts at Science World, the Aquarium, and even the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops.
We hope you and your little monkeys get a chance to spend a day at the Greater Vancouver Zoo.
It might be a bit of a trek to Aldergrove from Vancouver, but while you are out in the Fraser Valley, you could pick some berries, visit Fort Langley, or check out the brand new Otter Co-Op Outdoor Experience in Aldergrove. Make a day of it!
Greater Vancouver Zoo
5048 – 264th Street, Aldergrove