Toronto Zoo's 710-acre grounds and five indoor pavilions house more than 5,000 animals representing more than 500 species in recreated habitats. More than 10 kilometres of walking trails wind through fall colours and seven geographical zones designed for year-round exhibition, bringing wanderers up close to fauna from far away places such as Africa, Australia, and James Cameron's subconscious. Recently moved in to a 6,000-square-foot exhibit, endangered african penguins make funny faces at visitors in an underwater viewing area, where the tuxedoed tykes dive and swim. Western lowland gorillas headline the rainforest exhibits, and a stroll through the Tundra Trek unveils a five-acre polar bear habitat and a reindeer flight-training camp. Upcoming events include the Oasis ZooRun, Remembrance Day, Boo at the Zoo, and the Christmas Treats Walk. Visitors are welcome to pack their own lunch or opt for on-site food options, which span cafés, restaurants, and snack bars, enabling grab-and-go or sit-and-ponder-existence refueling.
Spanning 25,000 square feet of living quarters for coldblooded creatures, Reptilia houses more than 200 venomous and nonvenomous reptiles and amphibians. Experienced keepers and handlers educate zoo-goers on the critters that make up the more than 50 exhibits, including star attractions such as a 14-foot king cobra, a red-footed tortoise, and Induna—a 14-foot Nile crocodile weighing more than 1,200 pounds. Besides expounding on animals’ eating habits during four live feedings each day, the staff also demonstrates the reptiles’ instinctive behaviors during live shows in an on-site theatre. Furthering its commitment to reptilian education, the zoo helps visitors overcome their irrational fears of snakes, spiders, and terrarium glass in a four-week course dedicated to phobias, and camp counselors guide Reptilia campers through science experiments, arts and crafts, and ecologically focused zoo tours.
At Puck’s Farm, visitors can bond with 180 acres of the natural environment by learning about harvest-time chores and activities or scheduling weddings and events year-round on the open grounds. Guests of the farm can meet its animal residents, including emus, llamas, and a farm cat, which is much friendlier than a farm puma. For an even more interactive experience with fauna, Puck’s offers pony rides and the opportunity to milk cows and churn butter. Wooded trails traverse the expanse and present one of the many places on the farm where guests can delight in the changing of the seasons. Fall, for example, offers a variety of seasonal activities: visitors can get lost in corn mazes, pick ripened pumpkins, ride in horse-drawn wagons, and stroll through trails speckled with changing leaves. Autumn months also see pigs and goats building their nests for the winter ahead. An onsite snack bar serving hot dogs, hamburgers, and french fries enables guests to refuel for full days of farm activities.
Originally founded in 1919 as a small petting zoo known as the Cream of Barley Park, Bowmanville Zoo has since evolved into one of the largest collections of animals on the continent. More than 300 creatures roam its 42 acres of parkland, including turtles, primates, and large felines seen in feature films and television shows such as Animorphs and Peter Benchley's Amazon. Throughout the week, visitors can ride camels or elephants, see trained critters perform in the 400-seat indoor Animatheatre, or watch as handlers feed the carnivores by throwing them meat to trade with monkeys for delicious twigs.
Nature enthusiast Jeff Hathaway shares a passion for his country's indigenous animals—specifically amphibians and reptiles. At Scales Nature Park, staff and volunteers introduce visitors of all ages to more than 300 cold-blooded specimens from more than 60 species, most of which are native to Canada. The wildlife-conservation facility also houses exotic reptiles and amphibians donated by their owners or seized from private homes by protective agencies. All of these creatures coexist in a 21-hectare park, which represents natural habitats ranging from ponds and wetlands to hardwood forests and hemlock groves. An indoor nature centre showcases some animals in custom-built enclosures and serves as the venue for a range of programs, including hands-on animal demonstrations, guided walks, and guest lectures.