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Love birds and shutter bugs get special zoo events this February

The Calgary Zoo is putting on a pair of special events for people who love to kiss, or make camera clicks.

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo will be hosting the return of In the Heat of the Night.

It’s an adults-only event that features a four-course romantic dinner, followed by a fun—and maybe a little wild—talk by the zoology education team on the mating rituals of animals.

“It’s fun, it’s interesting, and it’s energetic,” said Alison Archambault, director for brand and engagement at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo.

“I would say that the naughty talk is quite definitely adults only … it definitely informs you of meeting practices that we see all the time in our scientific role,” she said.

Archambault said that unlike other zoo education programs, this event is less focused on talking about the Wilder Institute’s species survival plan, and more about animal mating in general. She said that the In Heat of the Night was all about having a bit of cheeky Valentine’s Day fun for couples.

“I was there two years ago when someone’s brought their grandma which made things rather exciting,” she said.

“I think we can all agree after another year of Covid, the chance to spend some time with our special someone—whether that’s your grandma, whether that’s that your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your spouse—it is just really welcome to be doing something that’s fun and interesting to celebrate your love.”

The event runs from Feb. 12 to 14, and tickets are only available online through the zoo’s website for patrons 18 plus.

A Rocky Mountain Goat relaxed at the Calgary Zoo on Saturday, September 4, 2021. The Rocky Mountain Goats were one of the species available for visitors to view in the Canadian Wilds exhibit at the zoo. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Photographers get exclusive access to the Canadian Wilds

The zoo’s animal enrichment team will be putting out some special items for the animals in the zoo’s Canadian Wild area at the end of February.

Photographers are being given exclusive and person-limited access to that area of the zoo on Feb. 26 during Winter Focused.

“These are items that the animals might not get regularly, and they really surprise and delight them with those items that are available in key spots and habitat during the photography event,” said Archambault.

“It’s a win-win,” she said.

The aged 16-and-up event will allow crowd-free access to photograph animals such as the Rocky Mountain Goats, Snowy Owls, Grey Wolves. The bears, however, are still hibernating and the river otter exhibit is under construction and unavailable to the public.

“You know, people enjoy photography for a variety of reasons, from myself who is very remedial in my skill level right up to the professional photographers amongst us. So, however people choose to enjoy the Canadian Wilds on this day, we’re just grateful to give them a space to do that,” said Archambault.

She said that the Winter Focused event was for anyone with a camera, and not just for professionals like National Geographic Live’s Joel Sartore.

“We’re confident that our photographer visitors are going to get the shot,” she said.

Sartore’s Photo Ark photos were projected on the Calgary Tower during the rebranding of the Calgary Zoo Foundation when it became the Wilder Institute.

He will be returning to Calgary, although not for the Winter Focused event, to add the zoo’s Sage Grouse species to the National Geographic Photo Ark.

Tickets for Winter Focused are available online, and discounts are available for current members of the zoo.