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Toronto Zoo, a member of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA), is a renowned destination that offers a unique blend of entertainment, education, and conservation. With its vast collection of species from around the world, the zoo provides an exceptional opportunity for Toronto residents and visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the natural world beyond the city. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore all the essential information you need to plan your visit to the Toronto Zoo.
Table of Contents
- Introduction to Toronto Zoo
- Hours of Operation
- Weather Considerations
- Admission Prices and Extras
- Membership Plans and CityPass
- Getting to the Zoo by Public Transit
- Getting to the Zoo by Car
- Accessibility Features
- Attractions and Activities
- Explore the Animals at Toronto Zoo
- Wildlife Health Centre
- Dining and Shopping Options
- Plan Your Next Visit
- Reviews and Ratings
1. Introduction to Toronto Zoo
Spanning a whopping 287 hectares, the Toronto Zoo is the third largest zoo in the world. It boasts an impressive collection of over 5,000 animals representing more than 450 species. Divided into six geographic regions, including Indo-Malaya, Africa, Canadian Domain, Americas, Tundra Trek, and Eurasia Wilds, the zoo provides a diverse and immersive experience for visitors. With over 10 kilometers of walking trails, you can explore the exhibits and observe the animals in their natural habitats. The zoo’s mission goes beyond entertainment, as it actively contributes to wildlife conservation efforts and collaborates with accredited zoos worldwide to protect and breed endangered species.
2. Hours of Operation
The Toronto Zoo offers year-round access to visitors, with the exception of Christmas Day. The zoo’s regular hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. However, during the spring and summer seasons, the zoo extends its opening hours until 6 p.m. It’s important to note that the last admission is allowed one hour before closing time. To ensure you have the most up-to-date information on operating hours, it’s recommended to visit the official Toronto Zoo website.
3. Weather Considerations
When planning your visit to the Toronto Zoo, it’s essential to consider the weather conditions. While a bright sunny day may seem ideal, some animals may prefer to relax in the shade or hide during hotter temperatures. Slightly cooler temperatures or breaks in the heat, such as those brought on by rainstorms, can often liven up the animal activity and provide a unique viewing experience. Therefore, it’s worth keeping an eye on the weather forecast and choosing a day that suits your preferences.
4. Admission Prices and Extras
To enter the Toronto Zoo, visitors must pay an admission fee. The prices vary depending on the season, with higher rates during the summer months. As of March 2019, the winter prices (from October 15 to May 2) are as follows:
- General Admission (ages 13-64): $23
- Senior (ages 65+): $18
- Child (ages 3-12): $14
- Child (ages 2 & younger): FREE
During the summer season (from May 4 to October 14), the prices are:
- General Admission (ages 13-64): $29
- Senior (ages 65+): $24
- Child (ages 3-12): $19
- Child (ages 2 & younger): FREE
It’s important to budget extra for meals and snacks, as the zoo’s restaurants may have slightly higher prices compared to regular establishments. However, visitors are welcome to bring their own packed meals to enjoy within the zoo premises.
5. Membership Plans and CityPass
If you plan to visit the Toronto Zoo more than once in the next year, it’s worth considering the various annual membership plans available. These plans provide a full year of access to the zoo, along with special perks and discounts on additional purchases. The Toronto Zoo is also one of the attractions included in the Toronto CityPass, a bundled ticket option that offers discounted entry to multiple popular attractions in the city. Exploring these options can help you make the most of your visits and save money in the long run.
6. Getting to the Zoo by Public Transit
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) provides public transit service to the zoo, but the specific bus routes may vary depending on the day of the week and time of year. During the summer, the 86A Scarborough East bus operates daily from Kennedy Station, while the 85 Sheppard East bus runs on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from Don Mills Station and Rouge Hill GO Station. For the most accurate and up-to-date route information, it’s recommended to visit the TTC website or contact their customer service at 416-393-4636.
7. Getting to the Zoo by Car
If you prefer to drive to the Toronto Zoo, it’s a straightforward journey. Simply take Highway 401 to the east side of Toronto and exit at Meadowvale Road. From there, follow the signs that will lead you directly to the zoo’s parking lot. Parking at the Toronto Zoo costs $12 per vehicle, and payment is made on the way out. This convenient parking option ensures a hassle-free experience for visitors arriving by car.
8. Accessibility Features
The Toronto Zoo strives to provide accessibility for all visitors. The zoo and its two TTC service routes are wheelchair accessible, although some areas may have steep grades. Wheelchairs are available for borrowing on-site with a refundable deposit, but the quantity is limited. It’s important to note that the zoo has specific policies regarding guide dogs, including the requirement of proof of vaccinations. For detailed information on the zoo’s accessibility features, visitors can refer to the official Toronto Zoo Accessibility webpage.
9. Attractions and Activities
At the Toronto Zoo, there is more to explore beyond the animal exhibits. The zoo offers a range of attractions and activities that enhance the visitor experience. These include daily keeper talks, where knowledgeable staff share insights and information about specific animals and their habitats. The Discover Zone is an interactive and educational area that features the Kids Zoo, animal shows, and Splash Island, a water play area. Additionally, the zoo offers rides such as the Gorilla Climb Ropes Course, Zoomobile, Conservation Carousel, and the Tundra Air ride. These extras are included in the admission fee, providing added value and entertainment for visitors of all ages.
10. Explore the Animals at Toronto Zoo
The star attractions of the Toronto Zoo are undoubtedly its diverse collection of animals. The zoo’s exhibits are organized based on the regions of the world where the animals originate. Let’s take a closer look at some of the animals you can expect to see in each exhibit area:
- Sumatran Orangutans
- Birds and Lizards
- Great Indian Rhinoceros
- African Lion
- Spotted Hyena
- African Penguin
- Grizzly Bears
- Golden Lion Tamarins
- Polar Bears
- Arctic Wolves
- Lesser Snow Goose
- Amur Tiger
- Snow Leopard
- Red Pandas
- Siberian Tiger
- Victoria Crowned Pigeon
For a complete list of animals and detailed information about each species, visitors can refer to the official Toronto Zoo Animal page.
11. Wildlife Health Centre
The Toronto Zoo takes pride in its commitment to wildlife conservation and protection. In July 2017, the zoo opened the state-of-the-art Wildlife Health Centre, which showcases the scientific research and efforts dedicated to safeguarding animal health. This 50,000 square foot facility is the first of its kind in Canada and features a public viewing gallery that provides a behind-the-scenes look at diagnostic imaging, treatment, surgery, clinical lab, and endocrinology lab rooms. The Wildlife Health Centre is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm, offering visitors a unique opportunity to witness the vital work being done to protect and care for wildlife.
12. Dining and Shopping Options
Exploring the Toronto Zoo can work up an appetite, and fortunately, there are several dining options available within the premises. Whether you crave pizza, poutine, ice cream, or even bubble tea, the zoo’s restaurants have a variety of refreshments to satisfy your taste buds. While the prices at the zoo’s eateries may be slightly higher than average, visitors are welcome to bring their own packed meals to enjoy within the designated areas of the zoo. Additionally, the zoo features several gift shops where visitors can find souvenirs, toys, apparel, and more. The largest gift shop, Zootique, offers a wide selection of items, but each gift shop has its own unique offerings worth exploring.
13. Plan Your Next Visit
To make the most of your visit to the Toronto Zoo, it’s important to plan ahead. Consider the season, weather conditions, and the specific animals or exhibits you wish to see. Arriving early in the day allows for more time to explore and observe the animals. You can also take advantage of the zoo’s extras, such as keeper talks and rides, to enhance your experience. Don’t forget to check the official Toronto Zoo website for any updates on operating hours, special events, or temporary closures. By planning ahead, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable visit to the Toronto Zoo.
14. Reviews and Ratings
The Toronto Zoo has garnered positive reviews from visitors who have experienced its wonders. With an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars on Yelp, the zoo has been praised for its care and compassion toward animals, knowledgeable staff, and interactive experiences. Visitors appreciate the educational value and the opportunity to connect with wildlife in a responsible and ethical manner. Some reviews mention the zoo’s admission prices, suggesting that visiting during off-peak hours may provide better value. Overall, the Toronto Zoo offers a memorable and enriching experience for animal lovers of all ages.
Plan your visit to the Toronto Zoo today and embark on a journey to explore the wonders of wildlife while supporting vital conservation efforts. Immerse yourself in the diverse exhibits, engage with knowledgeable staff, and create lasting memories at one of the world’s most impressive zoos.