Calgary Zoo closes flood-damaged South America building

Flooding has forced the Calgary Zoo to permanently close a building that showcased animals from South America.

Exhibit hard hit by flooding housed monkeys, sloths and anteaters

Thirty-four animals, including five Goeldi's marmosets, will be moved from the Calgary Zoo's South America building. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

Flooding has forced the Calgary Zoo to permanently close a building that showcased animals from South America.

The 34 animals — including parrots, monkeys and sloths — will be moved to other institutions starting as early as next week.

One of three De Brazza's monkeys forced to leave The Calgary Zoo because of flood damage. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

"We know people will be sad that these animals are leaving us, but we need to think of their welfare and we simply can’t provide for their long-term needs in the foreseeable future," said zoo president Clément Lanthier.

  • Listen to Lanthier's full interview with The Homestretch by clicking the "Listen" button above.

The building, located on the zoo’s 32-acre island, is one of the oldest at the zoo and one of the hardest hit when the Bow River overflowed last month.

Lanthier says the sad reality is the zoo has been forever changed by the flood.

The zoo was already looking for new homes for some zoo inhabitants prior to the flood — including a white stork, Parma  wallaby, two black swans and seven Rock hyraxes — which brings the number that needs to be moved to 45 animals from 15 different species. 

While closing the South America building was always part of the zoo's long-term plan announced in April, but zoo officials say none of the staff were prepared to lose it in such a sudden and devastating way.

"That will be tough for the keepers, because they have built a personal relationship with many of those specimens," he said.

The damage to the zoo from the June flooding is estimated at $60 million, including estimated lost revenue.

Earlier, the zoo announced it would lay off 300 staff because of the flood-based closure.

The zoo is closing the South America building and finding new homes for its animals, including three cotton-topped tamarins. (Courtesy Calgary Zoo)