I lived in Toronto for 5 years and I travel back and forth to the city on regular basis. Like most “locals” who do not visit tourist sites in their own city until they host a visitor, I had never been to the Toronto Zoo. Granted when I lived in Toronto, public transportation to the zoo was next to impossible. Now with a new subway line to Markham, options are more available and two bus routes travel direct to the zoo. Even so, I did not realize the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) trip would take me 2.5 hours both ways from downtown. If you are planning on taking the TTC, this is something to consider. http://www.torontozoo.com/ExploreTheZoo/Directions.asp?mbset=1
I had hoped to arrive in the morning so the animals would be out, by the time I got there, it was after lunch and most animals were having their afternoon siesta. The zoo is 710 and 10 kms of walking trails. It looks daunting but walking is fairly easy. I opted to purchase a ticket to ride the Zoomobile road train to travel throughout the park since I have knee issues (and half the day was gone), but even so there is still a lot of walking. The train takes you around the peripheral of the park and drops off and picks up at one station at each section. I also was contemplating on renting a scooter, I actually only saw two young women on scooters throughout the park. Most of the visitors walked the zoo.
Ensure that you pick up a map at the front gate, the zoo exhibits can be confusing and you can get turned around easily. This is especially for the exhibits inside a pavilion. The map also promoted to follow the footprints, but in June they were all faded away. There are lots of people working on site but only one person was specifically designated to provide information within the exhibits…. that I could find.
The Toronto Zoo is home to 5,000 animals representing over 450 species. I missed the pandas but I did arrive a few days after one of the gorillas gave birth to a baby girl.
There are lots of places to eat in the zoo, mostly fast food. The exhibits reflect the countries and the food kiosks as well, but upon further exploration, the zoo didn’t have any authentic food from the area represented. It would have been nice to see some authenticity to reflect the experience. I guess this is more of adult thing, and the food kiosks appeal to kids and families. I opted for my usual Dairy Queen soft ice cream, which was really the only time I rested during the visit.
I saw most of the exhibits in one afternoon, but I didn’t linger and I didn’t watch any presentations or demonstrations. I passed on the Discovery Zone; this section of the zoo is the highlight of the park for kids. It has a Kids Zoo, a water play area, and family entertainment. You would definitely need to get there early in the morning or go for two days if you are taking young children. I also bi-passed the Canadian section.
Tourists travelling by local transit should ensure that you don’t miss the last bus. If you do, it would be an expensive taxi ride to the subway or a bus stop but Toronto does have Uber and Lyft!