Amélie and I love zoos and we always enjoy discovering new zoos that offer large living spaces for animals. Working for the conservation of the boreal fauna and located in a rural setting, the Saint-Felicien wild zoo was quickly at the top of our list of activities to do during our trip to Quebec.
We spent a whole day at the Canadian zoo of Saint-Felicien. Here is a lot of useful information to follow our example, as well as a review of the things we enjoyed and a few others. All of this is accompanied by photos taken during the visit.
Useful information about the Saint-Felicien zoo in Quebec
Where is the Saint-Felicien zoo?
The wild zoo is 2230 boulevard du Jardin – Saint Felicien, QC G8K 0H1.
More concretely, it is west of the Lac Saint-Jean. During our Canadian road trip, we left from Montreal, took road 155 through the Mauricie National Park and slept in Roberval on the shores of Lac Saint-Jean.
The next day, the wild zoo was nearby and after the visit, we drove to Saguenay and then Tadoussac to see the whales.
When to visit the Saint-Felicien zoo?
The zoo is closed to the public during half of the year. After that, it depends on what you like.
Indeed, from November to the end of April, the zoo is closed. The weather conditions do not allow you to visit the Saint Felicien zoo in winter. Moreover, because of the cold, some species are put in closed rooms for their well-being.
For a quiet visit, May and June seems a good idea even if it is possible to have rainy weather.
The biggest crowds are in the zoo during the summer months. The weather is nice and warm and it’s a real pleasure to walk in nature. However, you should expect a bit of a wait for the train and less peace and quiet to observe the animals.
With Amélie, given the dates of our trip to Quebec, we saw the zoo in May and as you will see later, it suited our “taste” for visiting a zoo.
What are the opening hours of the Saint-Felicien zoo?
The opening hours are different depending on the time of the year. There are three periods:
- From the end of April to mid-June: from 9a.m. to 5p.m.
- From mid-June to mid-August: from 9a.m. to 6p.m.
- From mid-August to the end of October: from 9a.m. to 5p.m.
When the zoo is open, it is open every day of the week, including Sunday.
How long does a visit to the Saint-Felicien Zoo last?
The St Felicien Zoo recommends a tour of 5 to 7 hours in summer and 4 hours the rest of the year.
Taking our time (we sometimes stayed more than 20 minutes in front of the same enclosure), we took about 6 hours. This was possible because there were almost no visitors in the park and therefore, no waiting was necessary.
Should I reserve my tickets for the Saint-Felicien Zoo?
In late spring and summer, it is recommended to buy your tickets online to avoid waiting in line at the entrance.
Since our visit was during a slow period, we did not do this.
What is the price of the Saint-Felicien zoo?
There are several prices and they vary depending on the time of year.
In May, the price is reduced to about $20 (Canadian dollars). For this price, you only do the walking trails during the week, or the walking trails + the train on weekends.
The rest of the year, the entrance fee is around $50. For this price, you get a full tour that includes the Boreal train, snacks and animated animal encounters.
There are discounts available for seniors (65 and over) and children (15 and under).
There are also family packages: 2 adults + 2 children for $150, 1 adult + 2 children for $110…
Where to park to visit the Saint-Felicien Zoo?
A big parking lot at the entrance of the zoo allows you to park your car easily.
If you are staying at a nearby hotel and don’t have a car, you can take a bike or a cab to get there.
Our visit to the Saint Felicien Zoo
Map of the Saint Felicien Zoo
The location and facilities of the zoo
The Saint Felicien Zoo is in a small town and enjoys a beautiful natural setting.
You walk on elevated paths through most of the zoo. In several places, you have a view of streams. As we were there during the snowmelt period, the water flow was impressive.
The enclosures are globally large without reaching the surface of those of a zoo like Beauval in France. Moreover, not all animals are housed in the same way. Some species like grizzly bears have a lot of space compared to others.
The open plain that you can visit with the boreal train tour is really big. The animals live there in complete freedom and enjoy an ideal living environment.
Even though we were at the very beginning of the season, we found all the installations in excellent condition, whether it be the walkways, the trails or the enclosures. You can say that the zoo staff is doing a real job of maintenance.
There are some small games for the children, like a climbing wall (about 2 m) which allowed Amélie to show her agility…
The animals present at the Saint Felicien zoo
The wild zoo of St Felicien welcomes more than 500 animals, 86 species and has 4.5 km of pedestrian path to observe them.
The pedestrian part is divided into 7 sectors.
- The Arctic Tundra
- East Asia
- The Laurentian Forest
- The Rocky Mountains
- Ethiopian Plateau
- The Little Farm
In these areas, you will discover various animals such as the alpaca, the musk ox, the caribou, the beaver, the arctic wolf, the Canadian lynx, the grizzly bear, the black bear, the raccoon, the tiger, the elk…
While some species come from other continents, the focus is clearly on North American animals.
Depending on the time of day, it is possible to see animal feedings.
We had the chance to see the tigers eating. We could see them from a bay window right in front of us. They were three feet away and you could see them moving to grab their food and shred it with their fangs.
There were only ten of us visitors enjoying this moment and we took our best zoo pictures ever.
The little train: the zoo’s star attraction
The little train is made of several cars with grilled windows. You get on it at a station, then you enter an area where the animals are like kings. You visit their territory rather than them entering enclosures in full view of humans.
Many species of the boreal forest are present in complete freedom. If, like me, you are not an expert in geography, remember that the boreal zone is a large vegetation zone of Canada, which represents more than half of the country’s territory.
You will see local fauna and flora via the little boreal train. They are in their element. Among the species, some are never seen in other zoos in the world.
If you go to the zoo, this activity is a must. If I remember correctly, it lasts about 30/45 minutes. A guide using a microphone gives some information and alerts you to direct your eyes towards the visible species.
You pass very close to the animals. We were only a few meters away from black bears, bisons, wapitis… It was the first time that we observed such species from so close. The animals don’t seem to be bothered by the train. They just watch it go by.
In some places, the zoo teams have reconstructed equipment worthy of the first settlers, such as a “coureur des bois” dwelling or a farmer’s cottage.
You can, of course, take pictures. We had the chance to be in a car full of French compatriots… Badly educated (surely to prove to the rest of the world that we deserve our reputation), they didn’t hesitate to stand up, put their phones at 30 cm from the faces of other passengers to take pictures of the animals.
When the train arrives at the station, it is a bad surprise: you are disappointed to finish the tour as it is so exciting!
Food and beverage outlets in the zoo
The main restaurant is a big cafeteria with a capacity of 450 seats. There is also a creamery and some snacks to buy in a store near the boreal train station.
As we went there during the week at the beginning of the season, there was no restaurant open.
So we brought sandwiches in our bag to eat them on a picnic table. There are several of these spread throughout the zoo.
Was visiting the zoo in May a good idea?
The big snag was the weather. As you can see from our photos, it rained steadily, the trails were muddy and the wind was cold. But, it wasn’t mosquito season yet, which is already a good thing.
We were surprised and saddened to see monkeys from Africa suffering from the weather. They seemed to be freezing and huddled together under a heat lamp… Not seeing them and knowing they were in a warmer indoor enclosure would have been better!
Aside from this amazement, visiting Saint-Felicien Zoo in May had some major benefits. The zoo was very quiet and there were few people at each enclosure. Standing for twenty minutes watching the grizzly bears, wolves or lynx was possible and we didn’t mind doing it.
We also exchanged a few words with the staff who were observing their animals and who, in a quiet and stress-free environment, were eager to share their love of animals.
Between visiting this zoo in the summer with good weather but a lot of tourists and our rainy but peaceful visit in May, my choice is quickly done!
If one day, we come back to this side of Quebec, it is sure that we will return to this zoo because it is one of our best tours in Quebec.