Toronto Zoo in Winter
by Ron Clifford, Festival Nomad Correspondent (Article & Photos)
The Toronto Zoo on a winters day? Why certainly!
The zoo is one of the most amazing places in Southern Ontario to visit anytime and the variety of things to see is fantastic, but in the winter it is especially interesting, On this recent visit, for example, I was able to see our newest little polar bear and had the opportunity to get pictures of him rolling around in the snow and having so much fun! The adult polar bears were very active and playful as well making for some great photo opportunities in a more natural snowy environment. It’s not just that there are few or no crowds, though that is a huge bonus, the animals are generally more active this time of year. If you do happen to get a bit chilled, you can slip into one of the amazing indoor pavilions and see some of the more tropical varieties of plants and animals.
There are a few things you will need to take into consideration to help ensure you have a successful and comfortable trip. One of the first things is clothing. Wear warm clothing, layered so that you are a little warmer than you think you need, just in case. You can always remove layers, but if you are under dressed, it can be unpleasant. Clothes that are easy to remove, like zippered jackets and zippered fleeces under jackets or sweaters, make going in and out of the warmer pavilions a breeze. I usually always wear thermal underclothing on winter outdoor treks and I highly recommend this. a hat, scarf and warm mitts or gloves will go a long way to keeping you toasty, especially if the wind decides to pick up. Finally, warm feet equal a warm you. If you are prone to cold hands and feet, you can pick up disposable hand and foot warmers. They are really effective at keeping you warm all day long.
In the Winter there is no zoomobile to take you to the different areas, so plan ahead with a map of the zoo, available as soon as you enter, and be prepared to walk! You won’t be able to see everything in one visit so plan to visit a few key exhibits and add extras if you have time and schedule another visit as soon as you can!
If you are like me and love to take your camera along, there are also a couple of considerations. First is to be sure you have fully charged batteries with you and fully charged spares. The cold reduces your battery efficiency dramatically so it’s good to go prepared. Second is the problem of condensation gathering on, or worse yet, in your camera when you go from the cold outside air to the warm moist inside air of the pavilions. A couple of easy solutions to that are to either bring a heavy duty Ziploc bag and put your camera in before entering the pavilion. Leave time for your camera to warm up before removing it inside and using it. There is no need to do the same when going from the inside to the outside. Another solution is if you have 2 cameras, keep one inside your coat and use that one inside the pavilions, still put your outside camera inside your camera bag or plastic bag when you go inside though. This saves you having to wait for your camera to warm up when you enter the pavilions. Finally, a telephoto lens is the most useful lens at the zoo and I rarely take it off my camera if at all while there.
I know you will have a great time visiting our amazing zoo on your next winter trip! Just remember the tips for comfort and camera safety and you will be comfortable all day long.