Edmonton Valley Zoo unveils new urban farm, habitat for red pandas

Get ready to see red pandas up close and touch some animals at the urban farm.

'You're able to literally get underneath them or they walk around you,' says the zoo's director

Edmonton Valley Zoo unveiled its new red panda exhibit on Friday morning. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

Guests visiting the Edmonton Valley Zoo will now be able to pet animals at an urban farm and walk beneath the habitat of red pandas.

The city unveiled the zoo's new renovations on Friday morning, which included the opening of a new restaurant, urban farm and red panda habitat and play space. 

"It's going to be fantastic for this summer," said Lindsey Galloway, the zoo's director, at the grand opening. 

"This new space is all about getting up close. It doesn't get any closer than being able to touch the animals at the urban farm," Galloway said. 

"With the red pandas, you're able to literally get underneath them or they walk around you, so it's a really immersive experience." 

The grand opening concludes phase one of the city's Nature's Wild Backyard reconstruction project, which started in 2017. The first phase of the project costed $25 million. 

Galloway said the zoo doesn't have a definitive plan for phase two yet For now, the focus will be on using the new spaces to teach the public about conservation, he said.

"This space is about touching people's hearts. We're trying to educate them about conservation and the best way to do that is to get them excited and fall in love with these animals like we do," Galloway said.