Toronto Zoo. 

Toronto Zoo is a wonderful place. I have really enjoyed both my visits there. Both times, I completely skipped the Australian section because I have most of those animals living in the wild around where I live, and I’ve seen them in Australian zoos and wildlife parks, too. 

I always try to visit a zoo if I have the opportunity. I love zoos for the diversity of animals they host, and for the breeding and conservation programs they maintain in order to protect and regenerate animals around the world. It’s always fun to see animals that I would not ever have the chance to without travelling internationally and going on some kind of wildlife safari which, to be honest, is a lot more work and far more expense than I can manage. 

My previous visit to Toronto Zoo was on a -2C day in April. 2014. In addition to the cold, it was raining on and off. We got cold and wet, and my companions were very nice about not complaining because they knew how much I wanted to see some Canadiam animals that I had only see in books or on the Internet. I think that this goes very close to provifing a real-life definition of true friendship. 

Yesterday was sunny with blue skies and a light breeze, with an expected top of 23C. Perfect zoo weather.  

We set off on our adventure with zoo map in hand and discussing where we would go first. We visited the monkeys of Indo-Malaya, the Sumatran tigers, and the wild beasts of Africa – the lazy hippo, the equally lazy rhinos, the giraffes, cheetahs, wildebeests, and lions. I had seen all of these before, but that did not dampen my enjoyment of these beautiful creatures. 

While we were watching the rhinos, we were surprised to see a very Canadian creature running around in the enclosure. It looked like a beaver but had a longer, furry tail rather than the flat, broad tail of a beaver. We had no idea what it was, but conferring between our photos and Google, we came to the conclusion that it was a marmot. It was exciting to see another Canadian animal that I had not even considered putting on my bucket list, and to get some photos of it, so that was a bit of a bonus. 

Then we got to the Canadian section. This is the part of the zoo that I was most excited about. Ironically, this is also the section with the steepest, most brutal hill in any zoo, anywhere on earth. I don’t know whose idea it was to make people go up and down this hill without any assistance,  but even the fit people were slowing down and panting a little. You can imagine someone with a walker or a cane struggling back up the hill, wondering who they could bribe to carry them or give them a ride. A sign at the top does say that it’s a steep hill which is not recommended for wheelchairs or strollers. No kidding, Sherlock. 

Regardless, Sean and I proceeded down the hill. We’ve been down and up it before, so we knew what we were in for. The same is probably not true of the lovely young lady we saw walking down the hill in stupidly high-heeled wedge sandals, or another in high-heeled boots. Try as I did, I couldn’t muster any sympathy for them. I was just glad I had opted to wear that most iconic Australian footwear: a pair of thongs. (That’s “flip-flops” for my American and Canadian readers. Don’t be naughty.)

Despite the climb required in order to return to civilisation, the Canadian section is totally worth it. Most of these animals, with the exception of the moose, the bald eagles, and one bear who had just woken after a 16 week long nap but stayed right at the back of the enclosure, were busy hibernating last time I was here. Today I met the lynx, the cougar, the raccoons and the grizzly bears for the first time, and reacquainted myself with the others. Most of them posed for photos, but there was one bald eagle who insisted on burying his head under his wing just as I took a picture, every single time. A brave little chipmunk darted through the bottom of the eagles’ enclosure, and then I was glad that the eagle was busy preening his wingpits, or whatever. I do love chipmunks. 

  

My favourites of the day were the grizzly bears. They are such powerful, strong beasts despite their fuzzy-wuzzy appearance. They are amazing. 

  

I could have watched the bears for hours, but then we would have seen even less of the rest of the zoo before we were unceremoniously evicted just after 4.30pm because the zoo had closed. 

Who the hell closes a zoo at 4.30pm on a beautiful sunny day when there are still people in there who have paid almost $30 each plus parking to get in? It may well have been “the first day of fall” but the sign at the entrance still clearly said it closed at 6.30pm because Jenn and I both checked on our way in. Boooo.

I didn’t get to see the otters, the beavers or the polar bears, even though we were right near their enclosures. I saw the polar bears last time, of which I am very glad, but I sure don’t have much luck concerning the otters or the beavers. 

Maybe next time I will do the zoo backwards and start with them, just to make sure. 

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