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.
Environmental preservation, rehabilitation, and education abound at Hawk Creek Wildlife Center, a sanctuary harboring more than 80 nonreleasable animals from around the globe, a number of which have made on-screen appearances with the likes of Rachael Ray and Conan O’Brien. In its 25th year, the nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization hosts more than 2,500 educational programs and numerous events showcasing its panoply of raptors, wildcats, and barn owls, that, since 1994, have blossomed thanks to Hawk Creek’s barn-owl-breeding project. Hands-on activities place visitors face-to-face with the facility’s feathered residents—including a bald eagle—and an onsite gift shop brims with ornithological souvenirs and signed headshots of Big Bird.
The third-oldest zoo in the United States, the Buffalo Zoo was originally founded in 1875 as a deer park in the northwest corner of Delaware Park. Since then, it has grown into a 23.5-acre home for diverse species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish, all under the care of the Zoological Society of Buffalo, an organization dedicated to advancing the conservation of the world’s exotic, endangered, and ordinary animals. Within its habitats, creatures ranging from Asian elephants to poison arrow frogs serve as ambassadors from far-off kingdoms, and at the Delta Sonic Heritage Farm’s 1800s-era barn, a collection of berkshire pigs, southdown sheep, and other farm animals represents the fauna that once commonly lived along the Erie Canal. To carry out its educational mission, the zoo regularly hosts programs such as behind-the-scenes workshops and Zoo Snooze, in which kids can stay over for the night and wake up alongside the lions roaring angrily at their rooster alarm clocks.
The professional handlers at Reptilepartywny know no birthday is complete without a bite of cake, a round of games, and a quick hug from a boa constrictor. Packing exotic creatures such as snakes, tortoises, and chinchillas, they arrive at celebrations ready to let kids discover the wonders of the animal kingdom. Add-ons such as safari hats, bubble machines, and cotton candy enhance events, helping kids pretend that they’re jungle explorers or attendees at the first rave held along the Amazon. In addition to their signature menagerie, the party planners also maximize fun with attractions such as stuffed-animal creation, balloon animals, bounce houses, and costumed characters.
Safari Niagara provides a home for more than 750 exotic and domestic animals. The park’s conservationists lead educational presentations on threatened species and aim to shape children into the world’s future caretakers through up-close interactions with the park’s most social residents. Alpacas, river otters, grey wolves, and falcons are among the many animals that prowl the 110-acre facility, which also hosts an amphitheater where guests can watch musicians shimmy and shake in their natural habitat.