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Metro Toronto Zoo

Metro Toronto Zoo is on the eastern outskirts of the greater Toronto area, about 30 mins from downtown whether you go by public or your own transport, and is one of North America's best zoos.

I would recommend public transport, if you're a visitor, because in the summer the parking lots (even though they're very big) get full quickly and you can have a long walk to and from your car if you arrive late.

And summer is the best time to visit even though it's hot for kids to walk in.

To minimize that problem, the zoo runs a 'zoo-mobile' (a tram shuttle) to get you between the exhibits and it's well worth using if you have younger or older people in your party,

Metro Toronto Zoo -- New Arrivals

Metro Toronto Zoo's white lions

In 2012, the zoo gained some new stars, three white lion cubs from South Africa. The photo shows two of them disdainfully ignoring the public as befits these 'kings of the jungle' though as everyone knows, lions live on grasslands not in jungles.

The white lions aren't albinos. They're that colour because the part of Africa they inhabit is a light sandy environment and they have adapted to blend in. Unfortunately, they are a small sub-species of the lion family and growing smaller with every passing year, which is why Toronto is taking some in. They should blend in well with Ontario's winter snow. 

And in 2014, the stars drawing the crowds are two young pandas.

Metro Toronto Zoo's polar bears

Toronto's polar bears have always been a popular attraction and having a cub makes them even more so. Here are the adults playing in one of their pools on a hot (hot for a polar bear, that is) day.

Here's a page of more common Ontario Wildlife. 

Supporting Conservation Efforts

Metro Toronto Zoo's wood bison

Another animal that the zoo is helping to support is the wood bison, a relative of the plains bison we're all familiar with from western movies.

The North American wood bison suffered the same drastic loss of habitat and over-hunting of the plains bison and was disappearing before the Metro Toronto Zoo stepped in with its breeding program. 

Metro Toronto Zoos' rhino

Another endangered species, the rhino, is killed in the wild because folks in Asia think its horn has invigorating properties and all the scientific denial down the years has not yet been able to change that belief.

The rhino is also popular with kids, its quirky appearance seems to appeal to them.

Canadian Animals

Metro Toronto Zoo grizzly bears

A Canadian but not an Ontario bear, the Grizzly is a native of the Rockies in Western Canada and the US. Grizzlies are big and fast, apparently. There's no point trying to outrun them because they can reach racehorse speeds -- very comforting to know when hiking or camping out west.

Speaking of hikes, the grizzly and wood bison are in the Canadian section of the zoo and it's quite a hike to get there. I advise using the zoo tram, which runs throughout the zoo in the summer months. 

Metro Toronto Zoo is open all year round from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm, though not all the animals are outside in the Canadian winter, and is only closed on Christmas Day.

The opening hours do vary in the winter so for current information, visit their site -- Toronto Zoo. Another fine zoo to visit is Bowmanille Zoo in Durham Region, which is about an hour's drive along Hwy 401 to the east of Toronto. 

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