contact February 28th, 2014
You didn’t know? Yes, Toronto has a zoo. It’s called the Toronto Zoo. It’s a perfect day outing with the kids.
The Toronto Zoo is a zoo located in the north eastern part of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It opened in 1974 as the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo and is owned by the City of Toronto; the word ‘Metropolitan’ was dropped from its name when the cities of the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto were merged to form the present-day City of Toronto. The zoo is located near the Rouge River. It is one of the day use areas of Rouge Park, one of Canada’s largest urban natural environment parks, and is open every day except Christmas day.
Encompassing 287 hectares (710 acres), the Toronto Zoo is one of the largest in the world. It is divided into four zoogeographic regions with numerous indoor pavilions and outdoor exhibits. The zoo is home to over 5,000 animals representing over 460 distinct species.
The zoo is accessible from Highway 401 (2 km away), or by TTC buses from Don Mills or Kennedy station. There was at one point a proposed extension of the TTC’s Scarborough Rapid Transit line, which might have stopped at the zoo, but the plan was dropped because of the low demand and the high cost of running the Scarborough RT’s linear induction motor-driven vehicles.
The evolution of the Toronto Zoo begins back in 1888 with the opening of the Riverdale Zoo. The old zoo was converted into an urban farm called Riverdale Farm. The Riverdale Zoo was a typical example of a zoo during this time, with animals displayed as curiosities in dark cages and cramped enclosures.
It wasn’t until 1963 when a private citizen’s brief to build a new zoo was introduced. In 1966, eleven citizens met at City Hall to form the Metropolitan Toronto Zoological Society. In 1967, the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto approved the Rouge Park site in Scarborough for a new zoo. The following year, a Feasibility Study on the new zoo was submitted by architect Raymond Moriyama. Construction of the new zoo began in 1970. On August 15, 1974 the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo was open to the public. The zoo increased from 3 to nearly 300 hectares and is now one of the largest in the world. The Zoo introduced some innovative designs to enhance not only the public’s viewing experience but also the animals’ living comfort. Animals were displayed in naturalized environments and grouped according to their zoogeographic region.
In 1976, the Zoo opened the Canadian Domain Ride, a monorail that travelled into the Zoo’s Canadian Domain area, located in the Rouge Valley. The ride ceased operations in July 1994 after an accident. The monorail has since been dismantled and replaced by the Zoomobile, a tractor-pulled ride.
Between 1980 and 1983 several new exhibits were added to the Zoo, including Gaur, a children’s zoo (Littlefootland), a new indoor habitat for African Elephants and Snow Leopards.
In 1985, Qinn Qinn and Shayan – a pair of Giant Pandas, on loan for three months from the Peoples’ Republic of China were displayed at the Zoo. The Zoo broke all previous attendance records, as thousands of visitors came to see these rare animals. Over the years, the Zoo has presented other rare or unusual animals, including: Golden Monkeys (1986), Koalas (1988 and again in 1996), and White Lions (1995).
In 1998, with the amalgamation of the Metro Municipalities, the Zoo was officially renamed the Toronto Zoo. That same year, the Zoo opened the Africa Savannah exhibit, the largest expansion in its history. In 2000, the Zoo opened the Gorilla Rainforest, the world’s largest indoor habitat for Lowland Gorillas. The zoo’s ‘Splash Island’, an educationally-themed waterpark, opened in 2002. This was followed by an open-air theatre in 2003 and the ‘Kid’s Zoo’ in 2004 featuring exhibits geared to guests 10 and under.
The SARS crisis in 2003 had a devastating effect on the tourism industry in Toronto, including the Zoo. The Zoo’s attendance is slowly recovering from the after-effects of these events.
On August 21, 2007, the Tundra Exhibit was closed for expansion and renovations.
[photo and info from wikipedia]