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Visiting the Toronto Zoo

by Misty Pratt

Over Canada Day weekend we left the city and went to stay with friends who live just outside of Toronto. I've been meaning to make a visit to the Toronto Zoo for years with my kids, but every time we've tried it hasn't worked out.

Finally the stars aligned and I purchased our tickets online to avoid the big crowds we would be seeing over the long weekend.

Growing up just down the road from the Toronto Zoo, our family spent time there in all kinds of weather. We would hit up the zoo on New Year's Day and check out the animals braving the cold. One summer I did Zoo Camp, and learned all about conservation and the rainforest.

Going back with my own kids was so incredible! Yes, a lot has changed, but so much has remained the same.

We started off in the new kids zone, where there's a lot of things for kids to crawl through and climb over. There's a giant sand pit there, and a splash pad nearby for those hot days.

We then moved on to see the pandas. The wait was quite long, but there is a lot to see and read while you're waiting. It was definitely cool to check that one off the list - the pandas were munching away on a snack and were definitely cute!!

When dark clouds and rain threatened, we moved into to the African Rainforest Pavilion - this is what I always LOVED about the Toronto Zoo. Even in bad weather, there are always places inside that offer so much for the kiddos.

Another new addition is the Gorilla Climb Ropes course - you can see my 7 year-old WAY up there!! She has no fear of heights! The cost was $8, and since there was no line-up, she was allowed to stay on the ropes for as long as she wanted.

We also got to see many outdoor animals, including all those in the African Savannah. Sadly we missed the Canadian Domain, but it requires a lot of walking and our kiddos were on their last legs at that point.

If you go:

  • The Toronto Zoo is about a 4 hour drive west of Ottawa (just off the 401.) If you're looking for other things to do in the area there is Rouge Park, which is a beautiful urban wilderness
  • Try to arrive as soon as they open so that you score a parking spot close to the entrance (we failed at that one, but everyone was tired after Canada Day fireworks the night before!)
  • Buy your tickets online - then you can go through a faster line
  • Don't forget you will have to pay for parking on top of the fee to get into the zoo.
  • The Toronto Zoo is a non-profit organization, and all the money they make is funneled back into animal care, upkeep, conservation programs and so much more!
  • We decided to bring a wagon, and it had both positives and negatives - it allowed us to lug all of our stuff (including a packed lunch) but meant that the kids were constantly asking to sit in the wagon - our kids are old enough to walk for quite a ways now!
  • On our next visit, we will definitely be purchasing a Zoomobile pass. I love walking, but there were times we just wanted to get from point A to point B quickly, and the zoo is HUGE!!
  • You can bring all your own drinks/food, but there are many different types of food services there - Tim Hortons, Subway, Dairy Queen and Pizza Pizza to name just a few.

Have you made the trip to the Toronto Zoo? Share your stories, tips and tricks in the comments!!

Disclaimer: I was provided with one Toronto Zoo adult pass in exchange for sharing my experience at the zoo. All opinions are my own.