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.
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.
here at the zoo stands the one t-rex i wish i could be more like...
getting swept up in my memories of my hero t-rex, i decided to take a chomp out of his triceratops...
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.
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.