Bowmanville Zoo, in Ontario's Durham Region, is an ideal place to while away a sunny morning or afternoon, especially if you have small kids who love animals.
The zoo, which is almost 100 years old, is large enough to have a good sized collection of animals and small enough to walk around.
Also, the pens are sized so you can see and be close to the animals.
These parrots are near the front gate and they greet visitors in cheery though, like all parrots, raucous tones. The zoo has parrots, macaws, cockatoos and other colourful tropical birds.
Near the entrance is also where you'll find the Zoo Cafe (the main food place for visitors), Funland (small children's rides) and the Picnic area.
And of course the Gift Shop on the way out.
Also available at the zoo are Animal Rides, for children, a Predator Planet Show, and Expedition Predator (a tram ride up-close-and-personal with the big cats).
Like most folks, I go to zoos to see carnivores, especially large ones like lions, and tigers. The zoo has both and also a black panther, something you don't see often. I don't know if there are fewer of them or that zoos just don't get them nowadays but they seemed more numerous in the past, influenced by Kipling's Jungle Book stories, perhaps.
Near the carnivores, you'll find the Carnivore Cafe, which has snack foods and drinks.
The zoo has lots of varieties of herbivores, everything from camels to reindeer. And in between there are these wonderfully horned sheep.
When we visited, there were many baby animals around and the baby goats were so small they kept escaping through the cage wire, as follows.
This and other baby goats wandered around begging food and petting from visitors, which makes late Spring or early Summer a good time to visit. Like most very young 'kids', they're fun.
Watching the goats and other large herbivores, I found yet another disadvantage of being male. The young and female animals could get their heads through the wire and eat the grass on the other side of the fence, where, as we all know, the grass is always greener. Males, with their large horns, could not.
Camels are less fun but still popular in zoos and other shows and I don't know why. They are less-than-attractive and their behaviour is less-than-adequate, in my opinion.
Bowmanville zoo, as with others, includes educational, informative signs for each animal. Camels, we are told at Bowmanville, don't store water in their humps; they store fat, which makes me like them even less:)
Definitely the cutest critters in Bowmanville Zoo, the ring-tailed lemurs are a happy family whose antics are guaranteed to keep visitors amused. When they aren't grooming each other, which means picking off fleas and eating them so far as I can see, they're chasing each other round their pen and rough-housing.
Besides the lemurs, other animals that spend all day grooming and squabbling are our near relations, the primates. Bowmanville has a number of monkeys, apes, gibbons and others.
The elephant apparently needs a car wash to keep clean, or maybe it's just to cool it off on a hot Ontario summer day. Elephants are very smart. They learn quickly and are remarkably docile. This one adjusted itself to ensure all parts got a good wash without any apparent prompting from the cleaner. Try getting your cat to do that!
Next to the elephant enclosure is the Zoo's 'Animatheatre', which puts on shows around various animals 3x each day. Well worth stopping by for, again, especially if you have children with you. And near to the theatre is the Showstopper cafe, which features popcorn and ice cream.
You'll find Bowmanville Zoo on King St East (which is Hwy 2) in Bowmanville.
Getting there: From Toronto, take Hwy 401 East and get off at Liberty St, exit 432, and head North. Turn right at Liberty and it's only about a kilometre, or half a mile, on your left.
For full details, visit their site at bowmanvillezoo
Or visit our page on Toronto Zoo.
And for a hotel in Ontario or anywhere else:
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