calgary zoo- prehistoric park

so i guess, i'll go in locational order with my review of the calgary zoo. otherwise it could get confusing for everyone concerned (me in particular on account of my brain size).

plus this way it'll answer the question on everyone's mind right away, why is there so many dinosaur related things in the entrance to the zoo?

before anyone asks, sadly no they don't have an vivus-dinosaurs on display. i can't think of a single zoo on earth that has any of us surviving dinosaurs actually on display...

despite that, dinosaurs are all over the place here at the calgary zoo even if you're not looking for them... such as this cement mural of some here by the front gate gift shop.

your answer is to be found a few hundred metres from the gift shop. the first dinosaur you're likely to see at the calgary zoo is this triceratops (unless you come in the back gate... but its parking lot is small, and the entry is boring... that and i'm not sure why you would skip the tunnel :p ).

he is of course not a living vivus-dinosaur, but a sculpture. one of twenty they still have on display here... there used to be more when i was a kid, but as everything does, it has changed since my last visit.

your first stop is the calgary zoo's prehistoric park. marked by this sign which hasn't changed a bit since i can remember. just inside you can see our previous triceratops.

wander in a bit more, and you make here to this... uh you know, i'm not sure it has a formal name, but i like to call them prehistoric vistas.

the whole prehistoric park is an interesting combination of garden/artifical forest and cement geologic landforms. it gives the place a very unique feel. one that i have a fondness for, especially from when i was a hatchling. from a scientific accuracy point of view it is very silly, but i still like it!
the first dinosaur you see inside the proper park, is of course the coolest. a tyrannosaurus rex!
this used to be (and still might be) my favourite thing at the zoo. back when i was a young hatchling there weren't a lot of tyrannosaurs for me to hang out with or get to know what i am. in fact i had so much alone time on this angle i ended up imprinting on humans more, and so i probably am more human in some ways than t-rex.
yet i always heard i was a tyrannosaur, and constantly heard what i was supposed to be like. statues and skeletons were the closest i could come to meeting a t-rex in person most of the time. of all the there inanimate t-rexs i'd met the one from the calgary zoo was always my fav, and embarrassing as it is to admit, my hero.

while i was still just a little guy in the egg (i took a while to exit my egg... think of it as a security blanket) i'd look up to and admire this guy... wanting to grow up big, tall, and scary just like him. my hero worship was so much, one of the first things craig ever bought me was a poster of this him so i could look up to him even while at home!

of course when i was a bit older i discovered that living vivus-tyrannosaurs aren't very nice. don't believe me just read up about my cousin larry the biggest JERK! i know... i discovered i might not want to grow up to be one in the end.
which is good i guess, as i just found out in drumheller i'm not even a proper tyrannosaurus rex. i'm a tyrannosaurus traumadori, a tiny pathetic tiny joke of a t-rex.


here at the zoo stands the one t-rex i wish i could be more like...
and i don't mean i want to stand around completely still all day (i had that job once, no thank you!).
i just mean my idyllic imagined version of what a tyrannosaur should be. there is one in the world, and this is him here! he was and always shall be the coolest dinosaur on earth! i just wish i could be too...

directly across from the rex is his dinner, this old skool triceratops (okay actually pretty much every dinosaur in the prehistoric park is old skool come to think of it... and by old skool i mean human imagined old skool... which is new skool isn't it? as humans didn't show up till 64 million years after we had died out. we'd been correct and not looking like this, but then humans showed up and imagined us all wrong and made into these statues, before we showed back up to show them this wasn't what we looked like. what skool is that exactly?!?)

getting swept up in my memories of my hero t-rex, i decided to take a chomp out of his triceratops...
that sure brought me back to who i was and what i was doing... sore teeth and the taste of plastic are not cool or fun!!!

finishing off the first vista, in the far corner is the ankylosaurus.

from the first vista you have to wander to the second one. there are two paths to choose from. the high path or the low path. it doesn't really matter which one you take. in the end you'll get to the second vista (just in a different spot).

along the upper path you'll be treated to lots of the fake cement landscape.

they mimic mostly different types of sedimentary rock...

i think they were put here as their associated with dinosaurs, as our fossils are typically found in them.

however it is a little misleading and sort of confusing to put representations of living dinosaurs amongst these rocks. it gives the impression we actually lived among them when alive... most of us didn't of course, and those few that did live by the ancient badlands won't have fossilized! these rock environments erode, and thus are good for exposing fossils already there. not so good for making new ones (that would be the place all the eroded rock washes too!)

despite that fact, i can't quite bring myself to disliking them.

they are part of my fond memories of this place. more to the point they are sort of artistic. this is like a large surreal painting you can walk through. dinosaurs' past and present are mixed in fluidic harmony, and you can't pull the two apart...

taking the high path between the main vistas, you'll come across a corythosaur.

followed quickly by an edmontosaurus.

finishing off this nice pocket of alberta dinosaurs is a pretty miserable reconstruction of a styracosaurus. (the first vista could be argued to be all albertan too i guess... but the t-rex, triceratops, and ankylosaur are more associated with montana... corythos, edmontos, and styracos are definitely albertan. even if found elsewhere).

after the highpath you end up at the look out on the second vista. or as i like to call it the ocean vista...

that is if there were water in it!

i was so depressed arriving here on this visit to discover the zoo had drained all the water! i get it, they have to before winter so that ice doesn't damage the pond housing or the dinosaur models... but still it was my favourite (non-dinsaur) part of the park when it had water...

despite this photo being a lame version of this vista, you can see dr. bakker's favourite part of this zoo. prehistory offset with a modern city. on the skyline you'll notice downtown calgary in all its glory!

i saw dr. bakker do a talk at the zoo a few years back, and he always joked that alberta was single handily more than enough reason for the US to invade canada. not only did it have the dinosaurs of the alberta badlands, but it had the calgary zoo. the only place where you could look at remnants of dinosaurs and walk 2 minutes to look at modern animals to compare them too. it was funny joke... at least i hope he was joking!!!

just off to the side of the look out is the prehistoric park's newest (still here anyways) dinosaur. an apatosaurus.

as this is the sea themed vista you'd expect some marine reptiles, and you shan't be disappointed (unless they've drained the ocean... oh wait). right off the bat is a tanystropheus.

next is a nothosaur trying to fend off... a mosasaur?

okay so that doesn't make sense. clearly these two animals would never have remotely interacted, what with one being from the very beginning of the dinosaur's reign the other from towards the end...

it used to make sense. when i was a kid the mosasaur was fighting...

this elasmosaur which has now been moved a little ways away.

completing the marine reptile collection is a placodus.

missing from the upper path's team alberta was this centrosaur, which i have to say has since my last visit received the STUPIDEST paint job i've seen on a dinosaur in a long time!!!
ruling over the sea corner is a tarbosaurus and its offspring (just barely visible behind the trees... which i have to point out were really over grown everywhere this time around. i too be honest was not overly impressed with the maintenance of the prehistoric park today. it used to be well kept. trimmed and oceaned...).

marking the beginning of the lower path was this pteranodon. though this poor guy had seen better days.
some mean humans had climbed up his hoodoos and ripped off his lower body. sometimes humans REALLY bug me. especially when they destroy things meant to entertain and please everyone... why do they do that?!?
hiding along the lower path is a struthimimus if you know where to look for him.

the lower path is thick with vegetation. if it wasn't full of all the greenery you'd probably have another vista worth of space. sadly there aren't many dinosaurs down here. though the garden is nice, it is devoid of dinosaur life for the most part... okay, dino statue non life.
there is however the mandatory stegosaurus down here.

directly across from him an igunadon.
that's it... like i said the lower path is pretty sparce. back in the day there were a lot of small dinosaur models. sadly like the pteranodon a bunch of visitors went and trashed them. ruining it for the rest of us!!!
after these guys you'll come full circle back to the first vista.
so i hope you enjoyed the prehistoric park. at least then one of us will have. don't get me wrong it was nice to see the old place after so long. however in its poorly maintained state, and all the changes it wasn't as impressive as it used to be. the changes i guess i can accept, you have to innovate or go extinct.
the poor upkeep is another thing, and i nearly cried when i found out why the place had fallen into such sabby shape. they are closing the prehistoric park in feburary 2010... for good!
okay one second thought i'm not let down by this trip down memory lane. i'm bummed out as there'll be no more in the future...
at least i got in this one last look!!!


Albertonykus said...

That's what made this place so familiar! Yes, I remember that Prehistoric Park! I have some scant memories of that Pteranodon, as well as some long-necked creature in the pool. (It was probably the Tanystropheus, but I keep thinking of it as a sauropod.)

Raptor Lewis said...

I'm sorry man! I know what it feels like for good places to close! :( At least you DID get to visit it one last time! Thanks for the enjoyable "trip!" I really appreciate it and....one more thing!

You are WAY more Appreciated than you think!! You are NOT pathetic! I NEVER want you to think nor say that again!!

Remember what Professor Paradigm said? You have an evolutionary adavantage in the Quaternary that the other large Coelurosaurs like Larry lack! I think they are jerks because they are JEALOUS of you!!

Hippo A. Potamus said...

Wow! I'll have to put the Calgary Zoo on my list of vacation spots. I love visiting zoos, and try to plan my vacations around them.

There is nothing wrong with being a tiny little version of your species--I should know! And it is probably more fun to visit the zoo knowing you're the only LIVING one of your kind-even if you aren't on display and just visiting.

Love your blog!


Dinorider d'Andoandor said...

oh! what a pity! so they will be closing that exhibit soon!

I understand we tend to see a same thing in a different fashion as we grow older; however, the human factor interfered this time for bad.

So, did every winter prehistoric park close or something like that? I supppose the dinos end up being covered by snow. I ask that because in my city we don't have snow as the temperature usually doesn't get lower than 14 Celsius Degrees or higher than 30 degrees... so our zoos keep their crocs and turtles in their ponds the entire year. They use "stoves" too, of course... but everything keeps available almost 24/7.

Anonymous said...

The park not closing in February...there's cool stuff coming! (I can't say more until the PR people do their dance)

Love your blog!

Cameron D. said...

I don't think the Prehistoric Park is closing for good, they're bringing in new dinos: http://www.calgaryherald.com/travel/promises%20surprise%20prehistoric%20family%20grows/2255569/story.html