Judy Garland wasn’t talking about the Toronto Zoo when she said Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my! in the The Wizard Of Oz, 1939 because the Toronto Zoo is just 40 years old this year.
Not only does the Toronto Zoo have lions and tigers and bears they have much more including the Canadian Domain, the African Savanna, Indo Malyaya and Tundra Trek. You almost feel like you have travelled around the world in one day at the zoo.
But the big draw this year (and for the next 3 years) is the critically endangered Giant Pandas that are on loan from China. They spend 98 per cent of their time either eating or sleeping and unfortunately for us, they were sleeping while we were visiting them, however we did get a lovely picture. The zoo staff are hopeful that Er Shun (female) and Da Mai (male) will have a baby cub while here in Toronto. The female goes into heat for a brief period (1 to 3 days) once a year.
Also fairly new this year to the Toronto Zoo is the baby Polar Bear Humphrey who was born at the zoo on November 9th and now weights about 50 kg. Humphrey can be found in the Tundra Trek and was in a playful mood while we were there and was very intent on trying to get the round ring to flip over so that he could play with it while his mom Aurora slept nearby. Papa Polar Bear was enjoying his synchronized swimming routine. He was so much fun to watch and he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself. If you look closely I think you can see him smiling. He would swim on his stomach them roll over and push off the wall with his back legs and glide through the water on his back and then do it all over again. Ah the life of a polar bear!
The other new Zoo babies include Mstari the baby giraffe at home in the African Savanna and also baby zebras Luke and Leia. The Lemur Twins were spotted running around in the African Rainforest Pavilion but we didn’t get to see the new baby gorilla Nneeka.
We were delight to patiently watch as one of the many peacocks performed a mating dance for us. The zoo attendant told us that this peacock often goes to this corner, sees himself in the windows and thinks its another peacock. So he spreads his feathers and circles around. We were very fortunate to have been able to watch this magical performance.
And last but certainly not least are the rare white lions which are unique to the Timbavati region of South Africa. These rare and beautiful cats have not been seen in the wild in over 15 years however we managed to get a great look at them at the zoo. White lions are not albino lions but rather have a genetic rarity. They carry the recessive gene known as a colour inhibitor. He looked up just as we walked by and stared right at us.
We loved our day at the zoo as I am sure you will too. Please ask and we will share our pictures with you.
Traveller Tips: For your day at the zoo plan on spending most of the day so that you are not rushed and can enjoy all that the zoo has to offer. Wear comfortable shoes and have your camera ready because you will never know what you might see. Most people drive however there is a bus to the zoo. It take you about 1/2 hour (36 km or 22 miles) from the Boatel. Adult fee is $28 and parking is $10 per car.