EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Valley Zoo is rebuilding its original carousel from 1959.

“Remarkably it’s not in disrepair,” Tammy Wiebe, executive director for the Valley Zoo Development Society, said.

“There’s only two left in the world that are functioning and ours is really well taken care of.”

Edmonton Valley Zoo

Volunteer carvers from Fort Edmonton Park have spent years restoring the carousel animals one by one. Instead of using the tin horses from the original structure, they have crafted dozens of new animals out of solid wood.

From start to finish each carving has taken roughly 350 to 400 hours to create.

“This has been a long labour of love for carvers and people at the zoo,” Wiebe said.

The new carousel was remade to encourage children and visitors to learn more about endangered North American species. Wiebe said by incorporating the element of conservation the carousel will fall in line with the zoo’s core values.

“When this goes up at the zoo this august or September it’ll be by donation and all of that money is going to conservation,” she added.


Since 2017, the Winspear Centre has temporarily housed the completed carvings to ensure they were safely stored and displayed for the public to appreciate.

“It’s been a truly wonderful, magical piece to have them showcased for families and audiences,” Konstantine Kurelias, communications manager for the Winspear Centre, said.

Due to COVID-19 some renovations at the Zoo have been put on hold. Wiebe told CTV News Edmonton, they’re putting up a temporary building for the carousel. It will then turn into an event or habitat space after that.

“It’s an investment in the zoo’s future,” she added.

Valley Zoo carousel

On top of the carousel restoration, the Fort Edmonton Park painters are also bringing the 1959 cast aluminum horses back to life with a fresh coat of paint. It will not operate as a carousel, instead the horses will be put on display at the zoo.

Kurelias reflected on his time at the zoo back in the early days of the carousel “I’ve been on that carousel before.”

“It’s been really interesting to see them at the place I work at and also remembering that I sat on one of them,” he laughed.

The Edmonton Valley Zoo is open to the public once again as of last Thursday.

READ MORE: Edmonton Valley Zoo prepares to welcome back visitors on Thursday.

With files from CTV Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson