Calgary Zoo finalizing plans for new Wildlife Conservation Centre

The Calgary Zoo's Wildlife Conservation Centre is one step closer to getting a new home.

The zoo is currently is finalizing plans to move the centre to a 333-acre property near Strathmore, Alta.

For 30 years, it's operated its off-site breeding facility near De Winton, Alta.

But with urban development coming closer, chief operating officer Greg Royer says a more secluded site was necessary.

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"Because of the nature of where we are with the lake on one side of us, a wetland reserve on another side of us, and the Siksika Nations on the third side of us, we have a lot of natural buffer zone that allows us to quietly do our work on the entirety of our facility," he said.

Royer says the new location more than doubles the amount of usable space in the facility, so conservation programs can be expanded.

"Adding species is not an overnight process, it's a careful process," he said. "But we anticipate adding a number of species over the next five years."

Not open to public

Should the deal go through, zoo officials estimate it will take about two years to move all the animals to the new facility. 

In a blog post, Royer says, "the new centre will feature animal habitats, research facilities, classrooms and a private animal clinic in a secure area. It will not be open to the general public but we will continue to offer special tours for zoo members."

The Calgary Zoo is the only zoo in Canada with an off-site breeding facility.

The zoo hopes to finalize the deal sometime in June.