One of Toronto's best attractions
it is a must see for every visitor...
The Toronto Zoo is the largest zoo in Canada and one of largest in the world. It also consistently ranks as one of best zoos in the world.
However it isn’t all size with this zoo as it contains over 2,500 animals, representing 385 different species, not including invertebrates or over 16,000 animals representing 491 species if you include invertebrates and fish.
Spread out over 710 acres (287 hectacres) in the suburb of Scarborough, Ontario this gem in the Rouge River Valley merits a full day to fully appreciate its size and collection. Walking around is a tiring experience especially on a hot Ontario summer day. There is a seasonal zoomobile but to best appreciate the animals, walking is the only way to go.
What makes this zoo special is the way they showcase animals in their natural environments. The Zoo is divided into 7 zoogeographic regions containing the rocks, earth, and plants that the animals would experience in the wild. Natural barriers such as rivers, mountain ranges or deserts provide safe viewing distances for visitors to easily see the animals from different angles.
The animals are grouped according to their natural locations in the wild. The different zoogeographic regions of the Toronto Zoo are:
This region contains two pavilions and 4 outdoor exhibits featuring animals from southern and southeast Asia. Animals featured include tigers, rhinos, tapirs, orangutans and a variety of amphibians, birds and fish.
This region is huge as it encompasses a full third of the Toronto Zoo and includes an Africa savannah area and an Africa rainforest area. It is a definite must see as animals featured include lions, white rhinos, giraffes, hippopotamuses, and gorillas located in the world’s largest indoor gorilla exhibit and much, much more.
The elephant exhibit is no longer part of the Toronto Zoo. It was felt that it was inhumane to keep the elephants outdoors at many times of the year as they are not aclimatized to the harsh Canadian winters which they never experience in thrir natural habitat.
This region includes animals from both North and South America. Featured animals include jaguars, spider monkeys and flamingos. The Americas Pavilion also houses a huge selection of reptiles, fish, amphibians and insects.
This region features animals from Australia and many South Pacific islands. Species featured include kangaroos, wallabies, kookaburras, wombats and komodo dragons. There is also a large Great Barrier Reef exhibit featuring many of the fish found at this natural wonder.
The oldest section of the zoo features many animals that would be the highlight attraction at many other zoos. Featured species in this region include Siberian tigers, red pandas, snow leopards, Przewalski’s wild horses, Bactrian camels and Barbary apes.
Canadian Wilderness Domain
This region features animals commonly found in Canada. Featured animals include grizzly bears, moose, cougars, bison and musk ox. It encompasses a very large area of the zoo with animals living in their native environment.
The newest section of the Toronto Zoo this region features animals that live in the Arctic. Animals showcased include polar bears, reindeer, arctic foxes, snowy owls and arctic wolves. The Polar Bears are without a doubt the main attraction in this region and can also be viewed in an underwater viewing area.
Location of the Toronto Zoo
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The Toronto Zoo is located at: 361 Old Finch Avenue, Scarborough, Ontario
Getting there is easy whether by car or public transit.
- By car you basically travel on the 401 Highway until reaching Exit # 89 at Meadowvale Road then head north. There are plenty of signs on the highway indicating the direction of the zoo.
- Toronto’s public transit system known as the TTC operates 2 bus routes to the main entrance. For more route information, visit the TTC website at www.ttc.ca.
- Visitors can also reach the Zoo by taking Southern Ontario’s commuter rail system known as the GO train. This rail system spans the edges of Lake Ontario, just take the train to the Rouge Valley GO station then transfer onto the local TTC #85 Sheppard East bus and you will be taken directly to the main entrance. For GO Train information, visit their website at www.gotransit.com.
The Toronto Zoo also includes an area called the Zellers Discovery Zone that includes a children’s zoo where kids can get up close and personal with a variety of smaller animals, a water park and an open aired theatre where zoo employees demonstrate a variety of animals including skunks, ferrets, vultures and hawks.
All in all the Zoo makes for an excellent day trip and visitors should plan to spend a full day not only because of its size but also because of its location at the northeastern edge of the city.
I myself have been to the Toronto Zoo on over 20 occasions and have never been able to complete the whole attraction in one visit. In fact, if you try to see too much in one day you will just become exhausted and will actually miss quite a bit by trying to rush through.
The Zoo is open 7 days per week year round except Christmas day. Opening times and last admission vary depending on the season. Restaurants and snack bars are located throughout he zoo. Entrance fees and other information can be found at the Toronto Zoo official website located at www.torontozoo.com
The Toronto City Pass provides a discount on admission to The Zoo as well as other popular Toronto attractions that you may have on your itinerary. Get your Toronto City Pass here and save.
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