A national organization has awarded two awards to the Saskatoon Forest Park and Zoo.

The prairie dog exhibit and educational program at the Saskatoon Zoo were honored by the accredited zoos and aquariums of Canada (HUNT) in their 2021 annual awards of excellence.

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Prairie Dog Exhibit won the Thomas R. Baines Award, which recognizes excellence in habitat design and development.

The exhibit presents a naturalistic habitat for prairie dogs and allows visitors to get up close and personal with their natural digging and exploring behaviors.

A behind-the-scenes area was created to provide space for future medical and physical examinations of the animals, which was also recognized by the award.

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“We are very proud of our new prairie dog exhibit and receiving an award that recognizes the new habitat is very exciting,” zoo manager Jeff Mitchell said in a statement.

“A big thank you to our zookeepers and our partner organizations, including the Saskatoon Zoo Foundation, who came together to make this exhibit a reality.”

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CAZA awarded the Eleanore Oakes Award for Educational Program Design to the Saskatoon Zoo Society for developing five virtual environmental education programs for children in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The programs featured real-time animal interactions and matched Saskatchewan’s curriculum goals by incorporating indigenous-centric content.

“Our team developed virtual programs when the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic forced our programming to move to a virtual environment,” said Kathleen Zary, the society’s education manager.

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“We are very grateful to receive the support of various sponsors to offer more than 350 virtual programs designed to connect students with nature by connecting animals and students through interactive education while fostering respect for nature with a Saskatchewan approach “.

The HUNT Awards of Excellence recognize facilities that have made significant investments to ensure world-class animal care and inspire global conservation.

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