Toronto Zoo

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, and is open every day except Christmas day.

Encompassing 287 hectares (710 acres), the Toronto Zoo is the third largest in the world. It is divided into six zoogeographic regions: Indo-Malaya, Africa, the Americas, Australasia, Eurasia and the Canadian Domain. Animals are displayed indoors in tropical pavilions and outdoors in naturalistic environments, with viewing at many levels. It also has a children Zoo, Waterside Theatre and a Splash Island. The zoo is home to over 16,000 animals (including invertebrates and fish) representing over 491 distinct species. The Toronto Zoo is currently working on the North Zoo Redevelopment (for more information scroll down to the Toronto Zoo Projects).

The zoo is accessible from Highway 401 (2 km away), or by TTC routes 85A or 85B (from Don Mills station) or route 86A (from Kennedy station).


In 1888, the Riverdale Zoo opened in Toronto, as a typical example of a zoo during this time, with animals displayed as curiosities in dark cages and cramped enclosures.

In 1963 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 produced by architect Raymond Moriyama. In 1969 a master plan was created by Johnson Sustronk Weinstein and Associates which was approved by the Zoological Society. 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. The old zoo was converted into an urban farm called Riverdale Farm, which opened in 1978.

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 1984 several new exhibits were added to the Zoo, including Gaur, a children's zoo (Littlefootland) which does not exist anymore, and a new indoor habitat for African Elephants, Snow Leopards and the Indian Rhinoceros Pavilion. As well as, the official opening of the Zoomobile.

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 1987, the zoo opened the Maya Temple exhibit and Wolf Woods exhibit. In 1988 the zoo's new reptile exhibits completed in Australasia Pavilion, and Opening of Americas Pavilion Primate Wing. Caracal lynx exhibit opens in 1989, the year after the Spotted-neck otter exhibit opens.

In 1993, the Red Panda exhibit re-opens and the Malayan Woods Pavilion opens. Sumatran tigers arrive in 1994. Naked mole rats go on exhibit in 1996. Komodo dragons become feature exhibit in 1997.

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 and Eyelash vipers go on display. 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.

In November 2006, the Toronto Zoo temporarily closed the Australasia Pavilion for redevelopment. The pavilion underwent two years of construction, resulting in new exhibits including a Great Barrier Reef area (where the former Edge of Night exhibit used to be). The Great Barrier Reef exhibit consists of a large seven-metre-long community tank featuring sharks, damsel, and angel fish. There is also a lion fish, as well as enlarged seahorse tanks. Coral and moon jelly fish have also been added to the collection – both firsts for the Toronto Zoo. This pavilion reopened on May 16, 2008.

In May 18 2007, Dinosaurs Alive opened, which featured animated dinosaurs models. This exhibit closed in October 2007.

On August 21, 2007, the Polar bear, Llama, Dall's Sheep and Mara exhibits were closed for the new Tundra Trek which is part of the North Zoo Redevelopment Site. The Tundra Trek is slated to open in 2009, the Tundra Trek is nearing completion, but with much more to be done! Updates at a later date.

On May 16, 2008, Stingray Bay opened. This interactive exhibit allows the public to touch, feel, and feed live stingrays. Stingray Bay is scheduled to come back next summer, according to the 2008 operating budget and they will also be bringing sharks.

Board of Management

  • Councillor Raymond Cho, Chair
  • Mr. Peter Evans, Vice Chair
  • Councillor Glen De Baeremaeker
  • Dr. Ming-Tat Cheung
  • Councillor Mike Del Grande
  • Councillor Norman Kelly
  • Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti
  • Councillor Michael Thompson
  • Mr. Joe Torzsok
  • Dr. Dudley Williams

Toronto Zoo Vision: The Toronto Zoo is Canada's premier Zoo, known for its interactive education and conservation activities. As a unique wildlife experience, we inspire people to live in ways that promote the well being of the natural world.

Toronto Zoo Projects

Construction Projects:

  • North Zoo Redevelopment Project: (The animal listed in brackets may be getting new exhibits)
  • Phase One: Tundra Trek. (Polar Bears, Reindeer, Wolverine, Caribou, Arctic Wolf, Snowy owl, and Arctic Fox)The first project of the Tundra Trek and is scheduled to open in 2009.
  • Phase Two: Eurasia (Panda Bears & Golden Monkeys were thought about in the Eurasian plan)
  • Phase Three: Mixed Wood/Boreal Forests (Moose, Wood Bison, Grizzly Bears, Vancouver Island Marmots)
  • Phase Four: Tropical Americas (The conversion of the Americas Pavilion to Tropical Americas)
  • Dr. Scholfield Memorial.
  • Toronto Zoo is currently (Feb 2008) starting the initial design phases for an expanded elephant complex, including a large indoor space where the herd can be together and on display year-round, and an expanded outdoor paddock. (date not yet confirmed). There is going to be a feasibility study to determine whether it would be worth the cash to expand the elephant habitat and quadruple the space of the current exhibit, according to an elephant keeper.
  • The South Side of the African Pavilion is to be renovated this winter according to a mandrill keeper.

Conservation Projects:

  • The Toronto Zoo spends considerable effort in conserving and propagating endangered species from around the world. Breeding captive wild animals is a difficult process but the zoo has become successful. The Toronto Zoo helps with many animal SSP's as well as other Conservation Projects.
  • 2008 Year of the Frog.

Temporary Exhibits:

  • Dinosaurs Alive Opened in 2007 from May to October.
  • Stingray Bay - A Touching Experience is opened on May 16 2008 until October 13 2008.

Conservation and births

The Toronto Zoo makes considerable effort to conserve and propagate endangered species from around the world. Breeding captive wild animals is a difficult challenge that the zoo has met with some notable success.


  • The Toronto Zoo rescues two female Polar Bear cubs, later named Aurora & Nikita


  • 3 Sumatran Tigers were born at the zoo to parents Brytne and Rengat. They were the first of their kind to be born in Canada. This subspecies of tiger is critically endangered, with an estimated 400–500 remaining in the wild.
  • 1 Komodo Dragon was hatched for the first time in Canada.
  • The Toronto Zoo rescued a male Polar Bear cub, later named Inukshuk.



  • 1 male Gorilla was born March 7, later named Sadiki.


  • 1 male Sumatran Orangutan was born January 18th. He was named Budi which means "The Wise One" in the Indonesian language.
  • 1 Two-Toed Sloth was born. This was the first birth of this species at the zoo.
  • 18 Vancouver Island Marmot pups were born. The Toronto Zoo was the first zoo to establish a captive-breeding program for these animals with the goal of releasing them back into their wild habitat.
  • 2 more Sumatran Tigers were born to the same parents as the 2003 litter. They were later named Kali and Indah which mean "River" and "Beautiful" in the Indonesian language.
  • 5 African Cheetah cubs were born.
  • 4 Golden Lion Tamarins were born.
  • 1 Matschie's Tree Kangaroo one of three born in North America in 2006.(New York Bronx Zoo, St. Louis Zoo and Toronto Zoo.)
  • 1 Grevy's Zebra foal, the first born following a 14 breeding hiatus.



Zoo Diaries

Zoo Diaries is a Canadian documentary television series which airs on Life Network. The series documents the stories of people who work at the zoo. 74 episodes have been produced since 2000 by DocuTainment Productions.

Zoo Diaries is an intense look at life behind the scenes at the Toronto Zoo. One of the world’s biggest, the Toronto Zoo has expanded its longstanding role as an exhibitor to devote more of its resources to protecting endangered species. Each episode of Zoo Diaries focuses on the relationship between the animals and their keepers, allowing viewers to experience what it’s like to bond with some of the world’s most exotic creatures.


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