If you live in or are visiting Ontario, the Toronto Zoo is THE zoo to visit. It’s not the only zoo, nor is it necessarily the best on all fronts, but as the largest in the region and overall the best it’s well worth the price of admission (especially if you get a membership, though most visitors will probably be satisfied by a single visit).
The Toronto Zoo has your standard zoo layout. The place is divided into a series of sections containing different parts of the world and ranging from massive outdoor exhibits to indoor pavilions. All of this is connected by stone walkways with convenient footprints leading visitors on to their desired animal, making it rather difficult to get lost. You can also hop on the zoo’s transit system, though given the price of doing so it’s probably better to simply walk and have a map on hand.
Fortunately for those with rather wide-ranging tastes, the Toronto Zoo has a fairly massive selection of animals on display. They aren’t always out when you arrive, granted, but such is the problem with most zoos – neither you nor they can guarantee that you’ll get to see everything you want. That said the zoo has enough animals that you’ll doubtless find another replacement of interest if you look around enough.
And you’ll have to look around a lot, because this place is huge. Massive. You can get through the entire zoo in a single day, true, but it will take a long while and your feet will be dead by the end. This is the zoo’s major drawback, really: the terrain is mountainous and sprawling, and though hardier specimens will have no trouble getting through the zoo those of us who are less athletically inclined may not survive to see every animal. The North American section is particularly difficult to reach, found up a steep hill, and is probably the least visited.
That’s not enough to ruin a day, however. The zoo endeavored to keep people shaded while they’re walking around with an abundance of greenery in most places, so overexposure to sun probably won’t be a factor, and there are plenty of buildings to enter for those who need to cool off. There are also refreshment carts everywhere, though it’s a rare sight indeed to find one that’s actually open – most sit abandoned for much of the year, and when you do find one the prices will, no surprise, be quite high.
The rigors of the zoo are worth what you see, however, as the zoo’s construction is such that viewing of the animals in some neat environments is a piece of cake. The time of day plays a big role in the animals’ level of activity, however, so go early and on cooler days to get the most out of your zoo trip. The heat will keep most animals indoors and well away from the windows and bars where you can get some good pictures.
Overall the Toronto Zoo is a worthwhile investment. It offers little that’s grand or innovative, but it successfully covers all the bases that a good zoo should.