Spring Toad Festival

(Toronto Zoo)


by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

Off On Another Adventure…

The morning was sunny and bright, not a cloud in the sky. It was warm, but not too warm. A great day for taking a walk in the zoo. Having missed last weeks Festival of Maples in Perth, I really wanted to find something for the next weekend. I decided that I would search the web. Nothing specific jumped out, so I went to the Toronto Zoo site to see if they had any special events scheduled. They did… the “Spring Toad Festival”! I read their web promotion and it sounded like it would be fun, especially if my grand children accompanied us. I called my daughter to see if she and her brood would like to come. She and her husband thought it was a great idea, so plans were made. We arrived at 9:30 am, coffees and donuts in hand, ready for our trip to Toronto. Getting three young children primed to go is always a challenge! Today was no exception. By a little after 10:00 am we were off. The drive to the zoo was uneventful, the traffic was light. The road into the Zoo was another story. It seemed like a lot of people had the same idea… a day at the Zoo. We finally made it through the ticket gate ($8.00) per car and then parked the cars. We pilled out of our vehicles, grabbing all the paraphernalia needed for a day at the zoo. We walked to the main entrance gates and lined up to purchase our tickets. It was my task to purchase Judi's and my tickets plus the two boys. While we were in line the couple in front of us had an extra ticket and offered it to us. I gladly accepted and saved $19.00. What a thoughtful couple! We passed through the gates and were greeted with a "Toad Festival" banner.

The Festival

Our first order of business was to find out where the festival was being held. Straight ahead there was an information kiosk with two zoo volunteers standing beside it. We knew that they would know where the festival was because they were wearing festival sweatshirts. They pointed us in the right direction… “follow the blue feet” to the “Americas Pavilion”. On the way there we were side tracked by a children’s attraction. It was great fun for the kids… a giant treehouse, lots of animals, sand, caves and plus lots of play animals to climb on, over and under! There were also some live animals to ride… ponies and camels. We passed. We continued on the “blue foot” path trying to find the festival. We went toward the Americas Pavilion, but there was no festival there. There was the pavilion and plenty of animals to view, but not festival yet. We left the pavilion and walked down a hill towards the “wetlands”. Finally we had found the festival. We knew it because there was a sign on the bridge and volunteers wearing “Spring Toad Festival” sweatshirts. We were ready to see the “Toads”...

The Wetlands…

The festival took place in a small section of the zoo called the “Wetlands”. The 8th annual festival advertised in its website “…experience the ardent wooing of American toads and learn about the wonders of our wetlands.” The ad went further to read “Meet a friendly Giant Toad. Become a Toad Detective and use special equipment to find heir hiding places. Learn how to identify frogs and toads by mimicking their calls!” Finally it concluded “Enjoy face painting, crafts and much more.” While I think the Zoo and especially its volunteers wanted to make this a great event, it unfortunately feel well short of it. The volunteers did try their best to tell us about the wetlands, but the area set up made it difficult for them to inform everyone. We were at the site for over an hour and learned very little about the wetlands. We did learn about the “Adopt-A-Pond” program which seems very worthwhile, but little about the wetlands themselves. For the kids, they did get to meet the Giant Toad and did get their faces painted, but there was no Toad Detecting, few crafts and no “much more”. The Zoo and its volunteers put on so many great events. I am very surprised that this one fell so short.
That being said, there was whole big zoo to explore and we were “game” to see it…

Exploring the Toronto Zoo

After a quick lunch, we continued on our exploration of the zoo and its residents. I can never come to the zoo and not be in awe of the world’s creatures, big and small. Our tour took us through and passed most of the zoo’s attractions. Rather than describing what we saw, the photos will tell our story.

A day at the Zoo is always exciting and tiring. As we passed through the main gates back to our vehicle, I was stuck by the thought of how fragile our world is and how much we need to manage it more wisely.

"We must learn to manage our world more wisely!"