Wild Times Archive

Where does the Zoo find a Red Panda

Many of our guests ask: “Where does the Edmonton Valley Zoo get its animals?”

Of course, there are no zoo stores with catalogues of animals to order. Rather, there are many different ways zoos acquire animals for their collections.

Zebra mom Zari with Zuri in 2015
Pip, Red Panda

Births account for many of the arrivals at our zoo – many of our takins were born here. So was Zuri, the Grevy’s zebra. And of course, two of our red pandas – Pip and Paprika – were born here. Although baby animals are popular draws, accredited zoos do not breed their animals indiscriminately as the result would be an overpopulation, which in turn would cause housing and care challenges.

Many animals are part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs meaning that zoos worldwide, work cooperatively to manage animal populations thereby maintaining the greatest genetic diversity. The SSP often controls breeding in order to limit the number of offspring born each year.

Another way in which animals arrive at our zoo is through animal loans. Many animals in SSPs are on breeding loans; sent from other facilities to be mated with animals currently living in our zoo. The offspring of these loans is shared between the zoos.

Pasha, the serval cat
Lucy, the Burmese rock python
Hula outdoors under water

Private donations are yet another we acquire animals. Many times a well-meaning pet owner buys a “cool” animal only to find out that they are not equipped to look after the animal. They soon realize that the tiny two inch sulcata tortoise they bought grows and grows until they can no longer deal with it. Sometimes the pets are illegal to possess and must be donated to a zoo. This was the case with our serval cat Pasha and Burmese python Lucy. Sadly, unwanted pets often have issues with obesity, aggression or they are bonded to humans resulting in behaviours that are not specific to their species.

Rescue animals also make their way to the Edmonton Valley Zoo if they are unable to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Harbour seal Hula is a rescue animal who has thrived here.

Lastly, when a zoo is in need of a particular species, and none are available for trade or loan, there is always the option of purchasing an animal from a breeder, pet store, another zoo, or a reputable animal dealer. Koko and Lala, our first two red pandas, came to us from a zoo in Japan in 2004 and more recently, we found Tundra, our male Arctic wolf, in a zoo in the Netherlands.

Whether our animals were born here, donated, or arrived via a loan, trade or sale, together they make up our Edmonton Valley Zoo family.