a peek inside the fishbowl

28 Aug, 2018

The Fishbowl goes West: animals animals animals! Plus, an unpleasant surprise fact about Alberta

Posted by andrea tomkins in: travel talk

In my previous post about our first day in Calgary I wrote a bit about our great accommodations (here’s a panoramic view from our balcony I forgot to upload by the way!) and a very cool sushi restaurant. We decided to spend our second day at the Calgary Zoo. We got up, got dressed, had a quick breakfast, and grabbed some picnic lunch-type items from the Sunterra market on the ground floor of our condo to bring with us.

According to our GPS, the Calgary Zoo was only seven minutes away by car but somehow we made a wrong turn and ended up at the west side parking lot at the zoo. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It’s a small lot with very easy access to that side of the zoo. (Note: we saved five bucks on admission because we bought tickets online ahead of time.)

I won’t go into detail about the entire zoo experience (I don’t want this to turn into a longer version of Uncle Marvin’s Holiday Slideshow), but I will say that we were impressed by what we saw and would definitely recommend paying a visit if you happen to be in Calgary. It’s clean, well-planned, friendly, and there’s a lot to see whether you’re 5 or 105.

The panda exhibition is a special draw this year. We obtained timed tickets ahead of time but didn’t actually need them. We strolled in via the “general” queue and were able to watch them sleeping and lying around… the pandas are not busy animals.

Pandas at the Calgary Zoo

One of my personal favourites at the Calgary Zoo was the lemur exhibit. It’s really well done. You can wander into their enclosure (it’s quite a large area) and see a variety of different lemur species doing what lemurs do: climb, stroll, eat, poop. The visit was semi-guided, with zoo staffers making sure the human visitors were well behaved and stand still during a “lemur crossing” (i.e. a lemur walks right in front of you). They also explained lemur behaviour, habitat info, and other fun lemur facts. I could have stayed here all day.

Amid the lemurs at the Calgary Zoo

When we arrived, the lemurs were all rather sleepy and far from the main viewing area (I figured they were in cahoots with the pandas) but they woke up and started walking and climbing around, and also (much to the delight of the younger members of the audience) defecating from the high wire.

Watching the lemurs at the Calgary Zoo

Lemurs at the Calgary Zoo

Lemur eating the tree at the Calgary Zoo

Lemurs at the Calgary Zoo

I also really enjoyed the meerkats.  I am greatly amused by these comical little creatures. There’s just so full of personality. You can practically see the speech bubble over this guy’s little head:

Meerkats at the Calgary Zoo

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably already seen the little video I shot of a meerkat on top of a sleepy meerkat. (I also uploaded it to YouTube if you’d like to view it there.)

The weather was absolutely perfect for a zoo visit, about 20C, with interludes of sun here and there and a very small smattering of rain.

Another highlight: the botanical gardens! This part of the zoo was absolutely stunning. Don’t skip it. There are surprises at every turn:

Peacock at the Calgary Zoo

Of course, this is only a small fraction of all the creatures – great and small – we saw that day.

Red panda at the Calgary Zoo

Flamingoes at the Calgary Zoo

Chameleon at the Calgary Zoo

Zebra at the Calgary Zoo

Wolves at the Calgary Zoo

Owl at the Calgary Zoo
It was a great outing and I’m glad we went.

For dinner, the youngest did some research and found a good candidate for a nice night out: the Bank and Baron. It’s a gorgeous restaurant in an old bank on Stephen Avenue, which is reminiscent of Sparks Street here in Ottawa. (Imagine heritage buildings/shops/restaurants linked by a street that is closed to vehicles). Gorgeous spot, in a great location, plus a good lookin’ menu, I’m in! We were seated and were just getting our bearings when the waiter approached our table. He turned to our daughters: “So, I guess both of you have ID?” I wasn’t even sure why he was asking. We hadn’t even ordered anything. The eldest said yes, the youngest smiled and said she was underage. That’s when he explained the hitherto unknown (to me) rule about Calgary pubs. Apparently, people who are under the legal drinking age can’t eat (EAT) in a pub. I was very confused because this place looked very much like a restaurant. Other than a big bar in the middle of the room, it was mostly chairs and tables. We complained, but we knew the servers don’t make the rules here, so we mostly just grumbled to ourselves.

Sorry you are losing so many tourism dollars, Alberta!

We left, feeling dejected, hungry, and tired. We didn’t know where to go from this point so we ended up at Earl’s, a contemporary diner down the road. It was nice enough. I ordered tacos, they were decent. I will say that their garlic fries are pretty good. We walked home with full tummies and once again, fell into bed. Tomorrow we’d be waking up early for a trip out to Drumheller.

2 Responses to "The Fishbowl goes West: animals animals animals! Plus, an unpleasant surprise fact about Alberta"

1 | The Intrepid Angeleno

September 1st, 2018 at 10:54 pm


Awww that sucks that the one who FOUND the place can’t eat there.

2 | andrea tomkins

September 2nd, 2018 at 9:29 am


Sure does! She was very disappointed.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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