Marking 50 years on the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo

A significant milestone was celebrated at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo as it marks 50 years of operations.

“Fifty years ago, it was mostly just trees here. And then the zoo came to life,” Zoo Curator Janice McNernie told Global News.

According to a news release from the City of Saskatoon, the Forestry Farm Park and Zoo opened its doors Sept. 1, 1972, following a $160,000 renovation to expand the Sutherland Forest Nursery Station to include an animal park.

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Since then, the park has welcomed all kinds of animals.

“Since Day 1 there was a wolf, there was a dwarf goat, there was a black swan. Now, it’s changed so much more in the last few years. We’ve done a meerkat house. The dingos got a nice exhibit. The prairie dogs exhibit was just finished last year,” McNernie said.

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“We’ve been doing lots of wonderful things for the last 50 years. Millions of people were able to come to the zoo, and enjoy the zoo and learn about animals and conservation,” Zoo Manager Jeff Mitchell explained.

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Click to play video: 'Getting to know the dingoes at the Saskatoon zoo'

Getting to know the dingoes at the Saskatoon zoo

Getting to know the dingoes at the Saskatoon zoo – Sep 19, 2019

To mark the event, the zoo offered a special discounted admission rate for all visitors., but the animals were included in the fun.

“The animals get to celebrate 50 years too which is really cool. We have a lot of special enrichment. Those are the toys and games we give to the animals,” Mitchell said.

“As you walk around, you’ll be able to see all the different enrichment with the animals and the fun things we are doing for them,” he added.

Since its inception, the zoo has grown from an animal viewing sight to an educational experience through its Zoo Society team; offering programming and camps for children.

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In June, the zoo re-implemented guided train tours along the route to learn about each of the exhibits.

“They drive around, talk about the animals. (The train is) electric and so it has less of an environmental footprint,” McNernie explained.

Over the years, the animals have formed a strong connection with visitors.

“The support we have every year, even during COVID, our numbers were fantastic and people were excited to get out,” Mitchell concluded.

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