Calgary

Sorry, beaver: Wolf leads the pack in Calgary Zoo's Greatest Animal contest

The zoo launched the contest in March to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, highlight at-risk species and start a debate about which animal best exemplifies the country's national identity.

Canadians have until May 19 to vote for their favourite national beast

The wolf is at the top of the list in the Calgary Zoo Greatest Animal contest.

The wolf is leading the pack in the Calgary Zoo's Canada's Greatest Animal contest, sidelining one of Canada's official emblems — the beaver.

So far, the wolf has been a favourite among the more than 10,000 Canadians who have participated in the national contest, which ends May 19, said zoo spokesperson Trish Exton-Parder.

The zoo launched the contest in March to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, highlight at-risk species and start a debate about which animal best exemplifies Canada's national identity.

Here's the zoo's full list of candidates

  • Plains bison.
  • Grizzly bear.
  • Whooping crane.
  • Grey wolf.
  • Great grey owl.
  • Rocky Mountain goat.
  • Beaver.
The beaver, an official emblem of Canada, is falling behind in the contest. (CBC)

"We're not saying anything is wrong with the beaver — we love the beaver," said Exton-Parder, "but we just thought we want people to learn a little bit more about Canada's species — some of them at risk."

Currently, the once-endangered whooping crane is at the bottom of the list.

"This is a bird who was almost the way of the dodo years ago and has made an incredible comeback thanks to a number of organizations," including the Calgary Zoo, said Exton-Parder.

"That's where my vote would go," she said.

Once endangered, the whooping crane isn't getting the respect it deserves, says a zoo spokesperson. (Calgary Zoo)

People are also invited to come to the Calgary Zoo on May 6 to actively debate the topic at either 11:30 a.m. or 1 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Eyeopener's Unconventional Panel weighed in on the wildlife debate on Wednesday.

George Brookman, CEO of West Canadian Industries has a soft spot for the wise grey owl. "They're very smart, they're very quiet. They're like Canadians."

Comedian Andrew Phung sang the praises of the underdog whooping crane. "It's a majestic, beautiful animal."

Michelle Minke, founder and artistic director of the Cowtown Opera, chose the grey wolf.

"It's the singer of the natural world. It's also very family oriented, strategic, it's smart and works as a team and collaborates with its kind, and that's a lot like Canadians."

As for the lowly beaver, the panel agreed Canadians take it for granted and just assume it'll always be there.

Canadians can cast their ballot at calgaryzoo.com/greatestanimal.

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