Before you read this article and freak out over the amount of snow you're about to see, I want to clarify that I took these pictures last March. Moose Jaw had a lot more snow than they do at the time of publishing this. I just postponed the article to prevent you from any winter PTSD during the summer months.
The Moose Jaw Wild Animal Park opened in 1929 as a 540-acre zoo. It contained over 200 types of animals from across Canada and the northwestern United States. For almost eighty years the zoo was in operation, educating visitors on different animals and environmental preservation. It started with bison, bears and wolves, and eventually expanded to include more exotic animals such as lions. It was difficult to get numbers, but it had an average attendance of almost a million people per year.
All this ended in 1995 when the zoo failed to gain the necessary liability insurance. On September 28, 1995, the Environment and Resource Management shut down the zoo. In 1997 the zoo's property was sold to the City of Moose Jaw for $1, with the provincial government providing a $50,000 grant to restore the area.
To this day, the quality of that restoration has been controversial.
The former zoo can be accessed in a variety of different ways, but my girlfriend Jessica and I entered it from 9th Avenue Southwest, on the south side of the city. It's listed on Google Maps as "MJ Animal Park", with Tatawaw Park right below it. "Tatawaw Park" is the new proposed name for the park, which is Cree for "there is room, you are welcome".
If you enter the zoo from this side, you'll have to walk down a steep hill to arrive at a bridge. Because we did this in the winter, the hill was easy to go down, but exhausting to go back up.
Judging from maps I found of the area, I believe we entered the park from the original entrance, with the plateau near the top of the hill being the former parking lot. It was impossible to be certain, especially with everything covered in snow.
In the summer the park is probably full of green trees and grass, but in the winter, all the trees are dead, black and twisted. Any green that once existed had died off or is covered in a blanket of snow.
After a bit of walking, we found the former gate to the zoo. It was battered, bent and broken, but it shows the pride of what the zoo once was. Nearby was a graffiti-covered sign owned by the City of Moose Jaw. Very little of the sign can be read under a layer of profanity and paint. I've seen pictures of the sign online though, and I knew it warned visitors to proceed at their own risk.
Once inside the zoo we found a smattering of buildings, each gutted and left to rot. I assumed they were once bathrooms judging by their layout, but the only running water was the dripping snow from the caved-in ceilings. Every inch of the walls was covered in graffiti and the floor was littered with foam, wood, grass and garbage.
While I explored more abandoned buildings, Jessica walked up the road to see how far the zoo went.
I found one building that looked like it was once an exhibit, but the walls and ceiling had been dismantled. All that was left was a concrete base of the building, showing hallways, walls and rooms.
Unfortunately, the rest of the buildings I found were locked up. It appears other graffiti artists were equally as disappointed and vandalised the outside of the buildings with faces, curses and signatures.
I came across a few broken signs, power-boxes and picnic tables, but beyond that, there wasn't much left of the Moose Jaw Wild Animal Park. I caught up with Jess and we walked to where the zoo breaks off into more "established" parks and headed back.
On our way out of the zoo, we stumbled upon a few domesticated dalmatians running around with their owners. These and a few other dogs were the only animals we saw in the former "animal park".
The former Moose Jaw Wild Animal Park was disappointed in the winter but would probably nice to explore again in the summer.
My parents told me I went to the zoo when it was still in operation, but I was too young to remember. Have you ever been to the zoo? Have you been to it since it closed? Let me know in the comments below.
Don't forget to pin it!
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
Don't forget to share!
Get Your Complete List of What to See & Do in Regina!
When it comes to Saskatchewan, your next adventure can be around any corner. As you venture off the main highways, signage is scarce and directions such as "if you've passed the gate with the buffalo skulls, you've gone too far" are all too common. Communities grow smaller, people grow warmer and the list of things on your Saskatchewan Bucket List seems to only get longer.
My adventure to Leader started a few months ago when Christine over at Cruisin' Christine shared a list of Leader bus tours on Facebook. Some of the tours were in June, but one was in September. The September tour caught my eye because it was a two-day tour and I had to ask myself what we would do for two days in Leader. Leader has a three digit population, so I was perplexed on what the tour would comprise.
I was so perplexed that I decided contacted Leader Tourism and booked the tour to find out.
After a long, dark, frigid winter, Canadians love the few months of summer we get every year. Once the snow melts and the mud dries, we are out hiking, picnicking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, climbing and exploring this wonderful country of ours.
Of all the provinces to explore, Alberta ranks at the top of many adventurers' list. From hoodoos to waterfalls, mountains to valleys, deserts to tundra and everything in-between, Alberta offers any outdoorsman the perfect place to embrace nature.
Long before I started my blog, many, many years ago, I visited Innsbruck, Austria. I was on a Contiki trip through Europe and visited a plethora of locations such as Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, Lucerne and Innsbruck, just to name a few. It was an incredible experience and one that I think was a transformative moment in my life.
Off the record (or, on the record now, I guess), of all the places I visited, the only one I didn't like was Innsbruck. I couldn't get into it. We visited it in late March, so the weather wasn't the best. The trees didn't have any leaves on them, the grass was brown, and everything had a post-winter grey look to it. After visiting Munich and spending the night in St. Goar, my mind wasn't thinking about Innsbruck at all. Instead, I was more excited to go to Venice the next day, and the Vatican the day after that. My time in Innsbruck was uneventful, and all I wanted was to get back on the road.
That was in 2011, and now it's 2018. Has my opinion on Innsbruck changed? I would say yes. I'm more mature now and if I went back, I would better appreciate what I was seeing. As I've gotten older, I've been less impressed by the massive buildings and more enthralled by the history that created them.