Covering an area of almost 300 hectares, this is easily the biggest zoo in Canada – and, really, it would have to be to allow 5,000 animals to roam about in their natural habitats. Toronto Zoo is also the first animal park in North America to employ an on-site nutritionist to ensure that each and every one of its inhabitants is eating happily and healthily.
The 450-plus species are spread out across 7 geographical zones: Africa, the Americas, Australasia, Canada, Eurasia, Indomalaya and the Tundra. These habitats have been reproduced so that elephants can feel at home in the savannah, gorillas can roam about the rainforest, and stingrays can swim in spacious lagoons. Look out for the zoo’s new arrivals, two giant pandas brought over from China in May 2013.
A visit to the zoo can easily take up a whole day and, with 10 kilometres of trails, you can end up doing a lot of walking. Having said that, there are prams and trailers available for children, and wheelchairs can be borrowed free of charge. The Zoomobile also runs in the summer months, shuttling visitors to four stations spread out across the site.
Begin your visit in the African Savannah which is the largest section of the zoo and also contains the African Rainforest Pavilion, the world’s biggest indoor gorilla exhibit.
The Tundra Trek is an interesting experience, with Arctic animals such as reindeer and wolves inhabiting its 4 hectares. You can also watch a polar bear swimming underwater from a special basement viewing area.
Visit the Discovery Zone for the hands-on exhibits of the Kids’ Zoo. You’ll also find the Waterside Theatre here where you can enjoy a show. The Kid’s Zoo is open from May to October.
Toronto Zoo is located in Rouge Park in Toronto's Scarborough district, and is a 30-minute drive from the city centre. The car park is large but pricey buses, however, will drop you just by the main entrance.
The zoo is open every day except Christmas Day. Last admission is an hour before closing, and opening hours vary from season to season so you’d be wise to look these up on the zoo's website before you visit. You’ll also find information about feeding times and other events on the website.