New Baby Giraffe Introduced to Calgary Zoo Visitors

*This is a video of the new baby giraffe at the San Francisco Zoo. Lots of great images and information!

©2008Angie Haggstrom

June 29th, 2008 brought a new life to the Calgary Zoo in Calgary, Alberta, Canada after a long 15 month pregnancy. One week later, on August 5th, loving mom Carrie and her beautiful unnamed daughter stepped out into the sunshine of their African Savannah side pen. Zookeepers will introduce them slowly to their herd to ensure that everything goes smoothly with a minimum amount of stress on the baby and the herd.

Fifteen-year-old Carrie is very loving and caring mother, but she is also very private and protective of her beautiful baby girl. The little unnamed calf is flourishing under her mother’s care and very curious about her new surroundings. She is the second calf born at the zoo, and with the string of unfortunate deaths the zoo has been experiencing, she is a welcome sight to all.

New animal babies are always good news, but for conservationists and animal experts, a new baby giraffe is very important. In the wild, giraffe numbers are continuing to dwindle, but the species is not endangered. Best of all, the baby giraffe isn’t the only new baby at the zoo. A one year old baby elephant named Malti and a three month old baby gorilla named Yewande are also residents of the Calgary Zoo.

The Calgary Zoo, which began in 1929, is the second largest zoo in Canada and features more than 1000 animals and approximately 290 different species. The entire zoo is divided up into a series of different ecosystems that allow you to travel the entire globe in one afternoon.

There is an Arctic and Antarctic exhibit complete with animals that are both alive and extinct including dinosaurs and penguins. Austrailia, Botanical Gardens, Eurasia, the Dorthy Harvie Conservatory, and the African sections include both indoor and outdoor exhibits that are complete with vegetation, animals, and climate that mimic the real locations. If bats and other nighttime creatures are your thing, be sure to check out the ‘Creatures of the Night’ exhibit. Be warned however, the reptile and nighttime exhibits aren’t the greatest places for those who are extremely squeamish.

Children and adults both love the zoo’s Primates exhibit. All sorts of primates can be seen playing and interacting in the exhibit. The Prehistoric Park is also another popular exhibit. The life-sized dinosaurs roam through a recreated ecosystem. Last but not least is the vast Canadian Wilds exhibit. Be sure to make note of the actual size of the elk, moose, and bears in the exhibit — Let’s just say that television is very deceiving.

The Calgary Zoo has a lot more to offer its visitors. With admission running between 8-18 dollars, the zoo is actually one of the most inexpensive ways to spend an afternoon. Pretty amazing considering the costs of running the zoo and caring for all the animals. The zoo also provides all kinds of interactive programs and educational activities that prove to be a valuable and memorable experience for all. Finally, the zoo also accommodates large groups and functions. They also have an “Osprey Cam” where you can see right into the bird’s nest. (The hatching video is FANTASTIC!)

If you fall in love with the zoo, consider sponsoring an animal or giving a donation for yourself or giving it as a gift to someone!

*NOTE: The Calgary Zoo is hoping to release a video of the giraffe’s birth online. If they do (and it is locatable), I will provide the video or at least a link so that you can also witness the birth!

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Cypress Hills, Saskatchewan: Romantic Scenes and Year-Round Fun

Travel to Cypress Hills Saskatchewan For Family Vacations or a Romantic Getaway

Travel to Cypress Hills Saskatchewan For Family Vacations or a Romantic Getaway

©2008Angie Haggstrom

The Saskatchewan side of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a favorite spot for family vacations, romantic retreats, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. This portion of the park has enough amenities to make it easy and convenient to stay in while maintaining its stunning scenery and natural appeal.

In the 20-minute drive from Maple Creek, Saskatchewan to the Cypress Hills, you can feel your ears pop from the sudden 600-Meter rise in elevation. The amazing scenery begins at the top of ‘park hill’ before you even get into the official park boundary. The narrow road winds peacefully through the trees past a farmyard and quaint acreage (watch for the family of wild turkeys that live near the road just past the bridge). After going past the marsh full of cattails, you reach the park gate where you can pay for your passes and collect valuable information about the area from the knowledgeable and experienced staff.

The first building on the right is the park office and should be your first stop when you enter the park. The antique jailhouse door out front is great for pictures, and inside, there is a variety of animal bones and plants as well as tons of interesting stories about the area and its residents. The small general store sells all of the necessities as well as all kinds of souvenirs, summer toys, and camping supply. Next door, the fast food shop (currently called Dar’s Little Dipper) is a favorite spot for the locals as well as visitors to the area. The delightful café situated in front of the lake is a great place to enjoy a light meal.

When it comes to places to stay in the Cypress Hills, there is a wide variety of camping. There are group sites, full electrical sites, tenting spots hidden in the trees, and pair camping sites. If you prefer the comforts of a warm room and a soft bed, head deeper into the trees to the Cypress Hills Resort. Here, visitors have their stay of hotel rooms, cabins, or luxurious condominiums. You can eat in the delicious restaurant, have cocktails in the lounge, or grab a bag of marshmallows and a package of hotdogs for a weenie roast and an evening by the fire.

The Park is certainly not lacking for things to do. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout, there are a variety of boats and bikes to rent, and a walking path heads around the entire lake and throughout the park. A golf course and a mini golf course are also located in the park.

What the park is truly famous for is its trail, vegetation, and wildlife. One of the best ways to see the area at its best is to take one of many self-guided walking trails. The easy to walk trails show you habitat and give information on the area’s animals and vegetation. Some of the things you can see include animals such as beavers, moose, elk, and white tail deer and plants such as orchids and the famous Lodge Pole Pine that can’t be found anywhere else except in the mountains. Cougars have also been sighted in the park, however, the chances of seeing one are pretty slim.

Winter brings with it entirely new experiences. Camping might not be too pleasant, but the resort is open all year round. The cross-country skiing is some of the best in Canada. Why? It is quiet, peaceful, and the terrain ranges from easy to difficult. Snowmobiling, skating on the lake, and tobogganing are favorite activities in the winter sunshine.

Unlike typical forests with heavy underbrush, the pine trees stand tall, straight, and have branches only on the top half of the trees allowing you to see farther into the wilderness. Other trees and bushes mix into the pines heavier in some spots, but perhaps what is most interesting is the mix of prairie grasses and grassland that meet up with the forest. It is amazing to see how the three ecosystems collide.

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Proof That Saskatchewan Is Not As Flat As First Thought – An Introduction

From the Top of the Cypress Hills

From the Top of the Cypress Hills

This is an introduction to the region in the Canadian Prairies known as the Cypress Hills. This is the first in a four part in-depth series of one of the most mystical places on Earth.

©2008Angie Haggstrom

Perhaps the most amazing place on the prairies, this special region is the highest point between the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec and the Great Canadian Rocky Mountains in British Columbia. The Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, found in both Alberta and Saskatchewan, is Canada’s only Interprovincial Park.

The beautiful prairie oasis rises gracefully from the rustic prairie grasses and contains an amazing forest ecosystem. This magical place is home to a variety of unique species that draws visitors and experts from around the world.

Scientists believe that the park was formed during the last ice age. They believe that as the glaciers moved across the earth, the earth in this area pushed up between the icy plates and remained untouched. The result is approximately 220 bird species, more than 700 species of plants, and a mixture of animals including coyotes, wild turkeys, moose, elk, and cougars. Some of these species such as the Lodge Pole Pine and several orchids can’t be found anywhere else in the area,

In the early years of the park, the region was a center to the Aboriginal people and settlers in the area. As time went by, they were settled onto a reserve that remains there today. The park was then split into three distinct parts and ran by the Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Federal governments.

It soon became apparent that the secret to the park’s future would involve everyone working together to protect this vital area. In response, the park officially became an Interprovincial Park with the signing of the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park Agreement on August 25, 1989. Today, the park is still referred to in three blocks – Cypress Hills Saskatchewan, Cypress Hills Alberta, and Fort Walsh– but everyone, including the local residents work together.

The Saskatchewan side of the park, just south of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, has managed to find the perfect balance between tourist’s haven and a taste of the natural untamed world. Elkwater, Alberta, the Alberta portion of the park, contains a large, beautiful lake with a small taste of civilization hidden in its wild arms.

Combining the two of them is a quiet back country road that is completely impassible when it rains, but it offers you a look of the forest that cannot be seen any other way. Lastly, the northern region of the park can be found to the west of Maple Creek. Called Fort Walsh, this region holds a National Historic Site and tells of the hardships and the good times of days gone by for all of the area’s early residents.

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To be continued…

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Rare White Bengal Tiger Babies At The Saskatoon Zoo Until September!

White Bengal Tiger Cubs Similar to Those Picture Here Are At The Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo

White Bengal Tiger Cubs Similar to Those Picture Here Are At The Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo

©2008AngieHaggstrom

The Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, has announce they have a pair of very rare white Bengal tiger cubs named Jasmine and Jafar visiting their facility. While on exhibit at the Children’s Zoo in the park, the rambunctious siblings are being bottle fed kitten’s milk by zookeepers and snacking on hamburger every three hours since their mother can no longer feed the pair on her own. If you would like to see these little sweethearts, you will have to get to Saskatoon before they head back to their Ontario home in early September.

The Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo is a great place to include in your Saskatchewan vacation. For a reasonable price, ($7.50 for Adults, $4.50 for 6-18, free for children 6 and under, and $15 for a family at the time of this posting. November to the end of March is by donation) you can easily spend the day wandering through the beautifully kept grounds along with the many peacocks and other birds who wander loose within park limits.

They have native animals such as massive, full-grown elk (who put on quite a boisterous show during rutting season), lynx, and bears as well as several exotic species. The children’s section is just as entertaining for the adults as it is for the kids. The Forestry Farm also holds a variety of different programs and activities for both adults and children.

Besides the zoo, there are many other things to do and see in and around Saskatoon. If you are on a kid-free vacation, you can spend a day at the Dakota Dunes Golf Links enjoying the beauty of the prairie landscape while you play a round of golf. If golfing isn’t your thing, try your luck at the Dakota Dunes Casino and try to leave Saskatchewan with pockets that are a little heavier than when you arrived.

For those looking to include family activities during their travel through Saskatchewan, the kids would love a visit to Kinsmen Park. Best of all, at $1 per ride, it easily fits into the tightest of family travel budgets. There is an antique carousel and a miniature train that everyone can ride through the park.

While you are here, the kids can participate in afternoon activities such as a visit to the Saskatoon Fire Department. The park also has a water area called the Play Village where the kids can have fun in a supervised kiddie pool. If you plan to arrive at the park around lunch, be sure to get a picnic lunch from one of the local delis or restaurants. The park has lots of picnic tables and space for the kids to run and play.

There is so much more in the city of Saskatoon! If you would like more information, visit Tourism Saskatchewan or the City of Saskatoon.

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(This post now appears here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/saskatchewan/bengal-tiger-babies-saskatoon-zoo/)

Polar Bears, Beluga Whales, And Black Island: Outdoor Adventures In Manitoba

Travel to Churchill and Northern Manitoba, Canada

Travel to Churchill and Northern Manitoba, Canada

©2008AngieHaggstrom

Canada only has one place in the entire country that allows you to see uninhabited islands, beluga whales, and polar bears all in one trip. This place is also the only sub-Arctic seaport in the country. You can enjoy the Arctic tundra and tour the Eskimo Museum here before settling in for an amazing nighttime show staring Aurora Borealis. Do you know where you are?

If you guessed Northern Manitoba, Canada and the town of Churchill, you are right! This expansive region of Manitoba has a low population making it one of the wildest areas in the country that shows very little evidence of civilization outside of the small towns and villages.

Outdoor enthusiasts looking for adventure flock to Churchill, Manitoba for its rugged terrain and unusual wildlife. During the months of October and November, travel tours in a specialized tundra vehicle give visitors the chance to watch polar bears on their way back to Hudson Bay for the winter. Travelers can also get a closer look at the incoming floe ice and beluga whales by renting a see through kayak or going snorkeling.

The beautiful Wapusk National Park of Canada is also nearby. The park is certainly beautiful, but it is also the largest polar bear maternity den sites in the world. This being said, it’s not the best place to hike through, but if you would like to see the park, Hudson Bay Helicopters are a fun way to enjoy the park at a safe distance.

The little village of Hecla Island and Grindstone National Park is a haven for travelers looking for a taste of the true Canadian wild. Walking and bike trails are available for those looking for a more structured tour of the area, but for more grass roots hikers, the uninhabited Black Island is fantastic. You can wander through the area for days and not see another human being. Golfing and world-class fishing is also available in the area. Before you leave the island, be sure to ask the locals about the many mystical stories involving subjects such as sunken ship that give an entertaining history of the area.

If you would like more information on travel in the area or any other location in Manitoba, visit Travel Manitoba at http://www.travelmanitoba.com/.

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(This post now appears here: http://www.traveltheprairies.com/manitoba/churchill-black-island-outdoor-adventures-northern-manitoba/)

Travel To Where The Canadian Desert Meets The Burning Forest

Sand Dunes Similar to Those Found In Saskatchewan

©2008Angie Haggstrom

Canada’s North is home to a unique and delicate ecosystem known as the Boreal forest. It seems to be no different from any other forest on the surface, but upon closer examination, you will realize there is no other place like it. Besides being rich in wildlife and endangered species, there are nine unique species including Tyrell’s willow that live nowhere else on earth. As a result, this ecological region is truly a one-of-a-kind vacation destination. ©2008Angie Haggstrom

Like the Arctic, the Boreal forest is one of the most endangered environmental regions in the world. Clear cutting, human development, disease, and pests have always been a serious threat to the region. Now, however, global warming and several serious wildfires are devastating the region. This area may not exist for much longer if conservation efforts in the region and environmental issues continue to sit on the back burner.

One of the most interesting spots in the endangered region is the Athabasca Sand Dunes. This naturally created desert-like area, found along the southern shores of Lake Athabasca, is almost untouched by man because of its isolation. Although you can only travel to the area by plane, four-wheel drive truck, or on foot, the striking, natural beauty and peacefulness of the region is well worth the effort to get there.

If you happen to travel to the region, you will notice that the sand hills are in a constant state of movement because of the wind. In fact, if you look along the outskirts of these massive mounds, you can actually watch the fine sand swallow up the forest that surrounds it. The sheer size of the dunes (some of these can be more than 200 feet high) and the display of its power often leave visitors speechless and almost humbled.

Where did these natural wonders come from? Scientists believe the glaciers that had once blanketed the region caused the hills. The glaciers had compressed sand and other deposits into massive sandstone formations. Wind and water then eroded the stones to create the impressive dunes. If you travel to some of the local towns, the local Dene people will tell you that the Athabasca Sand Dunes are a result of a giant mystical beaver that struck at the ground with his tail turning the ground into the fine sand.

Although this unique travel destination looks powerful, the delicate balance of the Athabasca Sand Dunes in Northern Canada’s Boreal forest is in great jeopardy. Future generations will be unable to view this region if something is not done to slow global warming and the destruction of the forest. For now, however, the region’s beauty is still on display in all its glory.©2008 Angie Haggstrom

If you would like additional information on this region and many other great attractions in Saskatchewan, visit Tourism Saskatchewan.

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(Photo above is similar to those found here in Saskatchewan) Courtesy of Stock.Xchange (abose007)

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