Spread over 100 acres, Granby Zoo’s wild habitats present a remarkable number of exotic animals from four distinct world regions — Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania. Each clearly marked realm runs in a loop pattern with easy walking paths designed for optimum viewing. However, with 1,500 animals from 225 countries, it’s unrealistic to think you’ll see every one, so it’s best to plan which area tickles your fancy, and head for those first. In fact, the zoo’s website provides a helpful day planner — great for those who tire easily or don’t have a lot of time on their hands. Maps are also given out freely to get you going in the right directions.

How about staring into the eyes of a lion? Head for Africa. In June the zoo welcomed a new home for the king of the jungle.

“Three lions were moved from their cramped indoor quarters outside onto brand new expansive terrain,” said biologist Louise Labarre, who’s been with the zoo since 1990. “Congo and his sisters, Kao and Cécilia, now have a spacious home. They all live together and get along.”

During her time, Labarre has witnessed a few miraculous events at the zoo, including one that happened last year. “The zoo performed a Caesarean on an Amur leopard. She was experiencing grave stress while birthing. It was the first operation of its kind ever to be performed in North America. We saved both mother and baby. We were so excited and relieved. It was huge for us all.”

Speaking of huge, another star attraction are the 21 different dinosaurs that “come to life,” roaring right in front of your face. Triggered by mechanical ingenuity, these titans also move their claws. The Jurassic age setting effectively immerses you into a prehistoric atmosphere. Called Dinozoo Park, this place is a sensational crowd pleaser, but it won’t be here next summer, so catch it now.

Throughout the day, educators shed light on a specific animal’s feeding habits, provenance, age and more. These entertaining talks reveal the wild ways of the lion, Amur leopard and tiger, giraffe, hippopotamus, even the T-Rex. The scheduled times are listed on your map.

Dinosaurs are long gone, but many animal habitats are now diminishing at an alarming rate and several species are nearing extinction. Some can be found at the zoo.

“The most endangered species is the Amur leopard,” noted Labarre. “There are only about 70 leopards left in the world. Also at risk is the Amur tiger, whose world population totals a mere 500. The red panda is also threatened. We have a species survival plan (SSP) which is a breeding, protection and conservation program. It’s an integral part to this zoo. With this program, there is no risk of predator killings or injury. Health care is ever-present.”

Other endangered species include 50 mammals, birds, such the snow leopards, red panda, the monkeys, including the Japanese macaque and colobus guereza. Labarre also brought up a controversial issue. “Contrary to what the public thinks, animal survival rate is much higher at a zoo than in the wilds. They are safe here and they thrive. They never go hungry, and they’ll never face a drought.”

There is much to enjoy at the zoo. At Oceania’s South Pacific Odyssey Pavilion, you can feed the cownose ray, even touch its back, or even feed nectar to the colourful lorikeets? Your Zoo de Granby ticket gives you access to everything, including its awesome Amazoo Water Park, the amusement park where most rides are free, and the farm where kids can feed some animals

The zoo closes on November 3 and reopens the day after Christmas. For all information, visit www.zoodegranby.com

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