In the hollow of the Rouge Valley, across 710 acres, live more than 5000 animals from 450 different species.
One of the largest zoos in the world, Toronto Zoo has 10 kilometres of walking trails that traverse seven geographical regions.
Take the Candian trail to see American Moose, Grizzly Bears, Cougers, Racoons, Bison, American Bald Eagles and the Canada Lynx.
In Indo-Malaya there’s tigers, orangutans and baby Indian rhino. On the African savannah there’s giraffes and white lions. In Australia there’s a whole section dedicated to our Great Barrier Reef.
But really, the show stopper of this zoo is undoubtedly the five-acre polar bear enclosure.
Polar Bears are the largest land carnivores in the world. They have massive skulls, necks and bodies and huge paws. But small ears and a tiny tail. Polar bear’s fur colour changes with the season. New creamy-white coats are grown just before winter. Between May and August the bears moult. Their coat becomes thinner and appears to be more yellow.
Mother-polar bear Aurora weighs 800 pounds and was born in 2000. Aurora and her sister Nikita were both rescued from the wild. Keepers say the easiest way to tell them apart is to look at their tongues. Aurora has pink splotches. Nikita’s tounge is more dark purple.
The huge father polar bear is Inukshuk. He was born in 2002 and weighs 1070 pounds. Inukshuk was rescued from the wild after his mother was killed by hunters. He was found pawing at the police station door in Fort Severn. During keeper talks expect to see Inukshuk goofing around with fish and dropping them to the bottom of the pool.
Aurora and Inukshuk have, so far, produced three cubs – two boys Hudson and Humphrey, and a little girl, Juno.
Toronto Zoo also has some fantastic rides to keep the kids entertained. The Gorilla Climb ropes course will test your endurance. Head for great heights on the zoomobile, Conservation Carousel or Tundra Air ride.
For a more peaceful exploration, enter the First Nation Art Garden which combines traditional knowledge and creation stories with the zoo’s conservation efforts for turtles and wetlands.
In the Discovery Zone, you can see woodchucks – how much wood can a woodchuck chuck? Check out the alpacas and rabbits and dig for dinosaur eggs in the Kids Zoo. In summer, hit the Splash Zone which has a heap of waterslides and waterfalls.
Toronto Zoo caters for families of all shapes and sizes. There’s plenty of picnic areas, restaurants and kiosks for meal breaks. The zoo has a First Aid and Family Centre, and the partakes in the Access2 program for people with disabilities. Wheelchairs can be borrowed for free, and you can rent strollers, wagons and lockers.
Toronto zoo is open every day except December 25th. It opens from 9.30am to 4.30pm with the last admission an hour before closing time. Become a member to the zoo and you can enter for free. You can also buy the Toronto CityPass from the zoo desk.
Want to take the experience home with you? The Toronto Zoo also has a great live-stream video of their giant pandas Da Mao and Er Shun. Watch the panda live-stream here. It’s turned off when the panda’s are sleeping, but during the day it’s addictive viewing. Two cameras capture the panda’s every movement. The zoo also puts together an archive of the best panda moments.
Da Mao and Er Shun came to Toronto Zoo in March 2013 as part of a global giant panda breeding program. They had their first cubs, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue in 2015. The pandas were loaned to the zoo for ten years – and this year, their time is up. So if you want to see them, you had better get in quick.
Toronto’s Zoo features in our list of World’s Best Zoos, have a look!
Getting there: Fly Air Canada to Vancouver and connect through to Toronto.