Carousel at Edmonton Valley Zoo gets facelift with hand-carved animal seats

·2 min read
Fort Edmonton Park volunteer carvers did 20 endangered animals for the carousel. (Submitted by Valley Zoo Development Society  - image credit)
Fort Edmonton Park volunteer carvers did 20 endangered animals for the carousel. (Submitted by Valley Zoo Development Society - image credit)

Edmonton Valley Zoo's carousel is taking some new seats for a spin.

The Fort Edmonton Park volunteer carvers and their partners have restored the historic carousel with wooden animals, instead of the ride's original metal horses.

The ride is one of only two working 1959 Herschell-Spillman carousels operating in the world, according to Tammy Wiebe, executive director of the Valley Zoo Development Society.

"They're absolutely stunning. They're works of art. When people see them, they're then surprised that we're going to let children ride them," she said.

Wiebe said the zoo wanted the refurbished carousel to teach children about animals as their main pillars are conservation and education.

"A lot of our decisions about the things that we do always come back to those pillars and environmental sustainability," she said.

"And when we looked at the entertainment value of things like the carousel … we compare that to, you know, does this further our mandates? Is this helping teach people about the animals we share the planet with and how to best conserve them?"

Wiebe said the volunteer group has been working on the carvings since about 2014. More than 350 hours of work was put into each animal. Among the 20 animals that were carved are a great horned owl, a red panda and a lynx.

The Red Panda is one of the 20 animals featured on the revamped carousel.
The Red Panda is one of the 20 animals featured on the revamped carousel.(Submitted by Valley Zoo Development Society)

"There's an enormous amount of time and attention to detail that's gone into them," she said.

With the effort put into the carousel, it will be placed and operated in an enclosed space in Nature's Wild Backyard to protect the wood.

The Valley Zoo Development Society has been raising funds for the final pieces of the project, including the enclosure. They've been doing so through sales of a colouring book and scale models of the wooden animal carvings, as well as sponsorships of carousel seats.

Part of the fundraising efforts include sponsorship of the carved seats.
Part of the fundraising efforts include sponsorship of the carved seats. (Submitted by Valley Zoo Development Society)

The hope is that in the future, the carousel will raise money for conservation.

The ride is expected to open in August or September.