A six hour drive westward brought us from Montreal to Toronto, where Canada’s largest zoo is located. The Toronto Zoo has a large collection of animals, as well as visitors in the parking lot.
In terms of area, this is the largest zoo I’ve seen with the exceptions of the Wilds and the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park. Most of the large animals had enormous enclosures. For example, the bison practically had a prairie.
The Bison were in the Canadian Domain section. Half of the small cats we saw were there. Two Canadian Lynxes were hanging out in the drizzle. One was trying to hide from the rain.
The other didn’t let it deter him.
They also had a pair of cougars. When we were standing there, we learned that a government agency released a couple of cougars to take care of an overpopulation of fishers, a fierce member of the weasel problem.
We saw plenty of “moose crossing” signs as we drove through Quebec, but never saw a moose (or a deer, for that matter). We watched this gentle giant enjoy his lunch.
The big thrill in Canadian Domain was the grizzly. One appeared to be juvenile.
The boisterous youngster seemed to be intent on playing with an older bear. Personally, I wouldn’t mess with her.
Adjacent to the Canadian Domain was the Tundra Trek, showing the animals of the Arctic.
Our favorite was the Arctic wolves.
The Arctic fox was displaying his summer coat.
I liked the snowy owl.
The polar bear was having a lazy afternoon.
One thing I found interesting was an inuksuk, a marking stone used by the Inuit.
The America’s section was home to the otters.
We always love the antics of river otters.
The spectacled owls watched us as we entered.
One enclosure had parrots and capybaras. A capybara got a bit too curious about the parrots’ goings on.
He was escorted off their perch.
The Toronto Zoo has two jaguars. One is tawny, taking a bath.
The other was melanistic. It looked a little like Luna.
The cheetah keeper was giving a talk at 1:30. We got there at 1:27, and saw no cats. Right as my watched hit half-past, we saw a head.
Zeek the cheetah knew when he’d get a snack.
Such a handsome cat.
Next door was a white lion pride. A male.
…and two females.
We watched them for a bit. I think we bored him.
Obviously, this was in the Africa section, also home to Southern white rhinos.
The antelope played in the drizzle.
And African elephants. African elephants have larger ears than their Asian counterparts.
I’ve seen plenty of pictures of sugar gliders, but I don’t think I’ve seen one in person before.
This was in the indoor Australia exhibit. I liked the reptiles, such as a one year old emerald tree boa.
The bearded dragon just watched.
A sign indicated that their clouded leopard was an older cat, and the zoo keepers were trying to keep her comfortable. She simply dozed as an older feline should.
The gaur is a fairly rare species–from what I can tell, the Toronto Zoo is the only one in North america who has them. Also known as the Indian Bison, it is the tallest species of wild cattle.
The spider tortoise is one of the smallest of the tortoise species.
Only one of the two subspecies of tiger, the Sumatran tiger, was visible when we went.
A reindeer was sprinting around his enclosure. It was fun to watch him run.
The Toronto Zoo is getting two giant pandas on a five-year loan.
There was a large “Interpretive Center” on the way in, speaking about these creatures. It left me perplexed: they eat only one species of bamboo, but only get nutrients from about half of what they consume. They eat all of their waking life. Have they become overspecialized?
The Eurasian exhibit was, for the most part, closed. A tram went through part of it. We were told we could see the snow leopard, and given a series of wrong directions, leading us to circumnavigate much of the zoo, only to finally find out that, while the snow leopards were still at the zoo, they could not be seen while we were there. This exhibit is being remodeled, set to open in 2014. This was a major disappointment to me.
However, it was still a very impressive zoo. We were there pretty much from opening to close, and I’m not entirely sure how we would have fit in another section during our time there. The exhibits were well done, and there was a lot of space for the animals living there.