A Toronto Zoo membership is the first purchase of that kind we’ve made, and every summer we realize that it’s totally, totally worth it. And while there is no shortage of things to do in Toronto, that probably cost less and are closer to town, the Toronto Zoo is great place to visit again and again, as its vast size means you can always see something new. Everything is completely stroller-friendly, there are change tables in EVERY washroom, and it’s easy (although somewhat expensive) to purchase healthy snacks and lunches. Should you prefer, a private area for feeding and changing babies is available, and a registered nurse is onsite to help with first aid.
The fact that the Toronto Zoo is open at 9am means that early-bird babies and their mamas can get a head start on viewing the animals at the best time. The wildlife tend to be most active in the mornings and things tend to get busier and busier as lunchtime approaches.
Your best bet is to determine ahead of time which animals and exhibits are must-sees, and plan your visit around that. The Toronto Zoo is one of the world’s largest, and at over 700 acres and with over 500 species, it’s nearly impossible to do and see everything in one visit.
We’ve always loved the polar bears and so we tend to always stop at the new Tundra Trek exhibit. Inukshuk, Nikita, and Aurora the bears are now enjoying a larger, five-acre habitat with a green roof, a den with close viewing capabilities, and an improved underwater viewing area. Other inhabitants of the Tundra Trek area include Arctic wolves and foxes, reindeer and snowy owls.
More highlights for us include the beautiful butterflies in the Malayan Woods Pavilion, as well as catching a glimpse of the snow leopard and Siberian tiger in the Eurasia area. Toronto is retiring its elephant program soon, but you can still see the magnificent Toka, Thika and Iringa, the zoo’s three remaining elephants, before they are sent elsewhere -hopefully to a sanctuary.
Bigger little ones will enjoy the Discovery Zone, where our mini zookeepers-in-training interact with smaller wildlife, and dig for dinosaur bones in the giant sand pit. In the warmer months we always stuff bathing suits and towels into our bag, as the Splash Island water park is so tempting. Sometimes it’s the main reason we visit!
Food options at the Zoo are plentiful, but they are expensive. We tend to pack most of our snacks and lunches and enjoy our own picnics. There are lots of places to sit and relax, and The Toronto Zoo is perfectly fine with you bringing in any and all of your own refreshments.
My only complaint about The Toronto Zoo is the recent addition of the carousel. It’s beautiful, but it’s also expensive. I don’t mind forking out an occasional extra$5 for a pony or camel ride, but $4 per quickie spin (or 3 rides for $10) seems like a lot of money for something that’s out of keeping with the rest of the park. But many seem to love it, so if a trip to The Zoo is a once in a while treat, maybe forking over a few extra bucks isn’t really that big of a deal.
The Toronto Zoo is open every day except Christmas, but hours vary throughout the year. General admission is $25, Seniors are $20, Kids 4-12 are $15 and children 3 and under are free. Parking is $10, and special exhibitions and rides are extra. A membership usually pays for itself in 2-3 visits, which is why we decided to purchase one, and visit often.