The Toronto Zoo is favorite tourist spot in Canada even though it takes a little extra effort to get there. With 5000 animals in residence, 460 species in all, plus unique exhibits and encounters for children and adult alike it’s a great way to spend the day. Some of the highlights include getting up on a camel for a slightly bumpy ride, or touching sting rays as they glide past in touch tanks. The zoo is also very proud of the amount of babies they feature, which most recently includes a baby girl Gaur named “Wilma Bonnie Sue” now viewable at the Indo-Malaya Pavilion.
Also hanging around in this location is “Little Poppy”, a Black-Handed Spider monkey born last November. It’s an entertaining treat to watch her and her monkey family swing amongst the tree tops using not only their long limbs and hooked black fingers, but also their strong prehensile tail. These beautiful, often comical creatures are listed as “Endangered” by the IUCN due to habitat loss in Central and South American Rainforests. Conservation of this type of monkey is made further difficult because of their low reproductive rate, so every baby born in a zoo that is focused on conservation is an achievement towards their survival.
In other parts of the zoo, there are gravely endangered animals also producing youngsters, including the Grevy’s Zebras of which less than 6000 remain in the wild. Grevy’s Zebras have the most intricate stripe patterns of all zebra species, and no two stripe patterns are the same. The newest member of the herd at the zoo is “Tori”, the third foal born last June. The Zebras can be found in the African Savanna exhibit. Sharing the savanna, one will also encounter lions, African Elephants and the spiral horned Greater Kudu, a large species of antelope with striking white facial markings.
In the African rainforest, something special is also happening. Western lowland gorillas, as all of the four Gorillas species, are critically endangered. A few years back, a female lowland gorilla, Ngozi, in hopes she might breed with the resident male in charge, handsome Charles. The pair was successful and introduced Little Nasir, a boy, to their gorilla troop, in 2009. Also found in this part of the zoo is the colorfully faced Mandrill, a species in the Orangutan family that has bright blue and red facial features. The pygmy hippo, a smaller relative of the massive river hippo, is a unique creature and another highly endangered animal due to logging in much of its native range in West Africa.
Among the various geographic areas featured in this zoo, the Canadian Domain showcases many animals indigenous to Canada that one rarely gets to view up close. The great Grizzly bear, enormous Moose, and Wood Bison are residents, as well as the more common but no less enjoyable raccoons, lynx and cougar inhabitants.
There is much more to see at the Toronto zoo, including playful orangutans, and breathtakingly beautiful snow leopards. What many also find equally exciting is learning about the Conservation and Reintroduction programs they are working on which your visit continues to make possible. Since 1992, the organization has been able to successfully reintroduce 413 Black-footed ferrets back to their natural range in North America. More than 500 Loggerhead Shrikes have been reintroduced as well, as well as ecologically valuable species.