The mission of the Greater Vancouver Zoo is to inspire appreciation of our ecosystems and support conservation efforts by engaging the community.
The vision of the Greater Vancouver Zoo is to be a leader in the conservation efforts of animals and protection of the habitat that they live in.
The story of the Greater Vancouver Zoo began in the late 1960's when world traveler and businessman, Pat Hines, purchased 120 acres of land in Aldergrove, British Columbia. It was ideal for the realization of his dream to create a game farm. At first registered as the World Wide Game Farm Ltd. it became known as the Vancouver Game Farm, which had its official opening on August 20th, 1970.
The first animal to arrive was "Dennis", an agreeable male llama from Mount Vernon in Washington State. Very quickly, animals of every size, description and background began to fill the newly constructed paddocks.
Pat Hines and his wife Ann operated the Game Farm with family members and employees. When their daughter Eleanor married Hugh Oakes, the young couple took over the management of the facility until it was sold to new owners in 1991. The story of the Greater Vancouver Game Farm is told in Pat Hines book "From Rabbits to Rhinos, Gophers to Gnus" published by Rima Books (Okanagan Falls, BC).
Under new management, the Game Farm benefited from many changes including a new name. Reflecting the public's changing expectations of Zoos, the Vancouver Game Farm became known as the Greater Vancouver Zoological Centre. Many improvements took place during this time period with new animal enclosures, interpretive miniature train rides, a picnic park with covered gazebos & BBQ's, expanded landscaping, a remodeled entrance, more parking spaces, interpretive and educational programs and activities. In 1998 our "North American Wilds" exhibit opened and provided a narrative Safari bus ride for visitors through one area where black bears and wolves live together; and then into another habitat for the elk, mule deer and bison.
In 1999 the name of the Greater Vancouver Zoological Centre was changed to the Greater Vancouver Zoo, along with a change of owners and with further improvements for the facility and its inhabitants. As time changes, again the focus of Zoo's changes and more enhancements were made, now in respect to conservation efforts. The Greater Vancouver Zoo joined the Oregon Spotted Frog Recovery Program in 2000, a species which was the only organism that received an "emergency listing" as an endangered species in Canada at that time. The Greater Vancouver Zoo still is actively involved in this program, yearly our staff along with the OSF Recovery Team; tags, weighs, measures and releases the frogs into the wild.
Over the next few years, numerous enhancements were completed including the building of these new enclosures: Grizzly Bear, Arctic Wolf, Camel, Mountain Sheep, Hippopotamus and improvements to the Giraffe enclosure. Many animals have been rescued over the years at the Greater Vancouver Zoo and the majority of our reptiles, exotic birds, various cat species and many others we have taken in for numerous reasons. One animal rescue is "Shadow" our Grizzly bear, who could never be released back to the wild as she was abandoned at such a young age and did not learn the survival techniques from her mother. The Zoo has also made improvements to buildings & nurseries, introduced the Educational Bird of Prey (free flying raptor presentation), built new perimeter roads for service vehicles, electricity upgrades, water wells dug, new staff room, new indoor Education Centre developed and a new train are just a few of improvements and additions along the way.
In 2009 the Zoo showed a strong interest in being involved with the conservation efforts of the Western Painted Turtle, when the British Columbia Western Painted Turtle Working Group was first formed. The group was formed as a way to share knowledge and resources, standardize survey and monitoring methodology, test and improve habitat restoration methods, collaborate on research, share public education and outreach materials, and determine fund raising proposals. Although it wasn’t until spring 2012, when the Zoo began actively participating in taking eggs from emergency locations and bringing them back to be incubated at the Zoo. The in 2013 we released our first turtles back into the wild.
In 2012, the Zoo was focused on our successful reaccreditation with CAZA (Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums), and building our new Animal Care Center for sick and injured animals. The CAZA accreditation process takes place every five years where we go through a very comprehensive application submission, followed by a review from the CAZA Accreditation Committee Board and then a team of inspectors is selected from this committee for a thorough on-site inspection of all aspects of zoo operations. As in January 2012 we made some big changes in the North American section of the zoo. We no longer have a bus tour through the North American section, as we would like to provide a more natural setting for our guests and also a cleaner environment for both animals and humans alike. New enclosures were built for our cougars, coyotes and black bears in the North American section which you can access by walking around these new areas. The Roosevelt Elk and Plains Bison you may still see by the existing North American Trails and walkways. And of course our Grizzly Bear still has the wonderful viewing platform, although now you can also walk alongside half of the enclosure where before you were on the bus.
The new Animal Care Center, was completed in July 2013, and houses our animal quarantine (for new arrivals), hospital (for the treatment of sick and injured animals and minor surgery) and commissary facilities (food preparation and nutrition). The new facility incorporates advanced technology that will enable more on-site treatment of animals with speed and accuracy which will reduce stress on the animals and staff alike.
From an educational point of view, zoos exist to promote compassion and understanding through our various educational programs and activities. We provide several interpretive educational talks throughout our peak season including a fun, narrated and educational Safari Miniature Train around the perimeter of the Zoo. The Greater Vancouver Zoo delivers a wide variety of educational programs, and we are continuously expanding our options, improving the methods, and constantly updating the information.
The focus for the future is on further enhancements to our animal care management, animal enclosures, conservation efforts, education and all environmental aspects. We look forward to the future, we are grateful from our support to date and hope that you will continue to be there with us every step of the way.
Since 1970...dedicated to preservation, conservation and protection of endangered species.