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Calgary Zoo: A Zoo Pass Isn’t Frivolous, It’s Necessary

By Joanne Cook
August 3, 2011

After being a mum for 4-years, one of the activities we regularly embark on, is a trip to the Calgary  Zoo. And I have to be honest, I am surprised at how much I enjoy it.When my youngest son was a toddler, occasionally we’d head out for a “day at the zoo”. It was always an event for us. Something we talked about, planned, prepared for and took seriously. And we always had a good time but the visits were more about all the things we could see and exhibits we could get to before we left … sticky, dirty and exhausted.

Calgary Zoo kangaroos at the Calgary Zoo

Two years ago, kinda on a whim, I bought an annual zoo pass. So many people talked about having one – I just didn’t know if we’d use it enough.  After I bought it, I thought “I hope I get my money’s worth”. Looking back on that comment now, all I can do is laugh. My annual zoo-pass provides me with an entire year of entertainment.

Calgary Zoo Gorillas at the Calgary Zoo

Calgary Zoo Tigers at the Calgary Zoo

We aren’t one of those families that head to the zoo weekly or even with any regularity. We are more wake-up-see-the-sun-shining-decide-on-the-spot kinda family. And with a pass, the best part is I never feel guilty about leaving, even if we only stay for 2 hours.
The sky opens up and pours buckets – we can leave. We head to the hippos but they’re “in their house” today and my 4-year old is outraged (translation: begins to shout and stomp his feet) – we can leave. The baby is tired and cranky and clearly isn’t having fun – we can leave. Mum is tired and cranky and clearly isn’t having fun – we can leave.

Calgary Zoo train ride at the Calgary Zoo

That’s not to say we don’t have days where we stay for hours and hours and hours – because we do that quite regularly. Lots of times we’ll meet up with other friends and families and we’ll make a day of it. We have used our pass to get into Zoo Lights at Christmas, for special events during the year, for Storytime on Thursday mornings … we have certainly gotten our money’s worth.

Calgary Zoo enjoying ice cream at the Calgary Zoo

Calgary Zoo enjoying a picnic at the Calgary Zoo

But for me, the best part is still the option to go when we want and stay for as long as we want. Just this morning, the sun was shining, we had no plans and when I asked my son what he wanted to do, he wanted the zoo. Why not? So we packed a lunch, visited a couple animals, had a picnic and after the gorillas (my favorite) we had an ice cream cone (Ben’s favorite) and we headed home in time for the baby’s afternoon nap. Brilliant!

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