New Calgary Zoo Pedestrian Bridge Opens

After being closed for several years due to safety concerns and 2013 flood damage, the pedestrian suspension bridge at the Calgary Zoo reopened on May 3, 2018. On May 7, the bridge will provide access to the Zoo’s new exhibit – Panda Passage from Prehistoric Park.

After the original bridge was demolished during the flood mitigation work, ISL Engineering and Land Services (ISL) was retained to design the replacement structure. In a nod to the past, the Zoo requested a swinging bridge of a similar nature to its former iconic pedestrian suspension bridge – and ISL delivered.

The new structure is a 60 m covered timber suspension bridge using multiple timber products, including FSC certified Alaskan Yellow Cedar decking. While the bridge had to be extended to meet modern standards for accessibility, ISL designed it with the same abutment locations so that new abutments actually straddle the original ones leaving the original abutments in place for posterity.

Click here to watch the Zoo’s panda, Bamboo, cross the bridge for the first time.

Fun Facts:

  • This is likely the only covered timber suspension bridge in the world.
  • The roof pitch changes along the length of the bridge.
  • The main cables came from Austria.
  • The guardrail cables are designed to move with the bridge sway.
  • It was designed to allow for a pickup truck to cross, if needed.
  • There were no environmental instances next to the Bow River and all heavy equipment was changed to bio-friendly oil as a precaution.