There’s a new attraction at the Saskatoon Zoo, but unlike most spectacles that bring people through the gates — this one doesn’t have an enclosure.
The Orano Fun Zone Playground was unveiled to the public Thursday.
Featuring a tree house, swings and talk tubes, this playground doesn’t resemble the basic play structures that many in Saskatoon are used to — especially if you frequent the playground at the zoo.
“The original playground here at the zoo was opened in 1972 when the zoo opened,” Saskatoon Zoo manager Tim Sinclair-Smith said. “It’s pretty old … Like anything, everything has its day, and (the playground) has run its course.”
That means no more parents breaking their back as they try to cram into the small tunnel that led to the old playground site.
“If you’re tall, you really know that tunnel. Some intimately with their heads,” Sinclair-Smith said. “Although the kids love running through it, it can be a bit of a struggle for the parents to get through.”
Stationed right next to the orchard, Sinclair-Smith is excited for the playground to become a fixture in a more easily accessible area.
When comparing what makes up a playground now as opposed to 40 years ago, accessibility was the word Sinclair-Smith kept using.
The new playground at the zoo is completely wheelchair accessible, which isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Not only can you maneuver a wheelchair around every part of the playground, but in time the wood chip-filled ground will be easy for anyone to navigate.
“Engineered wood chips are specially made and they go through a rigorous testing process,” Sinclair-Smith said. “It takes a little bit for them to settle, but they’ll drop by about two inches and then they mesh together.”
Once the process completes, the ground will be soft enough to provide comfort for falls, but solid like a patch of pavement for wheelchairs to smoothly glide along.