Toronto Zoo Fall Tour


by Festival Nomad "Scoop" Correspondent, Judi McWilliams

On a crisp fall sunny day, the Festival Nomad and I were about to experience something that we had not thought of doing in the past. Over the years we have travelled to the Toronto Zoo and experienced many blistering hot sunny days and exceptionally large crowds. Today we were to Tour the Toronto Zoo in October!

There was calmness in the crisp air, not too many people had arrived as yet. At the gates, large hay bails, tall cornstalks and vibrant orange pumpkins helped us get in the “Fall Mood”! This day brought a slower pace to our step, as we took the time to take many photographs. Getting some great photos of the Panda’s today was quite easy as the grounds were not as crowds with people. It seemed like we were about to experience the Toronto Zoo with a keen eye today.

A very fuzzy orange caterpillar walked by on the sidewalk. Here was the Gary and me, with these amazing creatures all around the Zoo, and we were watching a caterpillar! We noticed beautiful tall white wheat flowing in the breeze beside breathtaking red berry bushes. With the foliage being not as full as the summertime, we got to see the owls amongst many other amazing creatures that we once had only walked by before. I was surprised by how close we got to the Peacocks walking freely along the sidewalks.

The Toronto Zoo was celebrating the changing of the season, with a new fall event with interactive and themed activities, educational programs, tours, keeper talks and enrichment programs with the animals. There is something for everyone in the family, including Fall Foliage Tours, Photography-The Zoo and You-sessions, Preparing Your Garden for Winter and Tundra Trek Tours. Fun fall activities were also in full swing at the Wildlife Marquee where you could participate in colouring and craft stations, storytelling and more! There was face painting, craft stations, games and storytelling. "Meet the Keeper Talks" were scheduled where you could see what the animals did with a pumpkin! They offered an opportunity to get outside and enjoy a mini photography tour lead by a professional photographer - what better place to take beautiful fall photos than at the Zoo. During this half an hour tour they provided photography tips on photographing wildlife and how best to capture the beauty of fall in a photo!

At a Volunteer interpretive cart, interpretive Pop-Up stations offered fun and interactive activities at some of our favourite fall-coloured animals. Enchanted Fairies and Gnome Homes at the Caribou Cafe Picnic Site offered families the opportunity to use the natural materials provided to build winter habitats for the mystical creatures of the Zoo woods. They invited folks to bring their imagination and love for the natural world to the wooded picnic site near Caribou cafe.

We were able to spend a long time with the Elephants. We were fortunate, as our timing allowed us to watch them for the last time at the Zoo, as they were about to depart to a new home soon. Gary really enjoyed watching the “Hippo”, especially as it carried a large tree branch, stick, in its mouth. It seemed to us that by doing this, the Hippo got a chance to rest his heavy head as it floated in the water. Even the Tigers looked more magnificent today! Perhaps it was the fall colour setting in their environment. We were able to get some fantastic shots today of them also.

Instead of “rushing” across the bridge to get to the “next exhibit”, we found ourselves stopping to take all kinds of photographs. We never really noticed the depth of the forest and the beauty itself had to offer visitors! There was nothing quite like seeing the vibrant colours, oranges, reds and yellows of the autumn trees. Gary used his “supper fast shutter speed” camera settings to capture a single leaf falling from the sky. Watching the leaves flutter through the bright sunshine and shadows of the trees was awe inspiring! This day was perfect! We are anxious to return to the Toronto Zoo for a “Winter Tour”, who knows what exciting adventure that will bring?