Toronto Zoo 35th Anniversary Celebrations...


by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

35 Years of Service and Entertainment

It’s hard to believe, but the Toronto Zoo just turned 35 years old.  Judi and I had wanted to visit the zoo this year and were looking for a good event to attend.  The 35th Anniversary Celebrations seemed perfect.  Early Sunday morning we headed west for Toronto and the Toronto Zoo.  We left the 401 Highway and exited onto Meadowvale north.  As we neared the zoo, we took the exit into the main parking lot only to discover that it was full and that we were being re-directed to a secondary parking lot.  It looked like the zoo was going to be very busy today.  We joined the line-up of cars and waited our turn to enter the lot.  From the parking lot we had a long trek to the zoo’s entrance.  It was a very, very hot August day and we were exhausted by the time we reached the entrance.  We had a pre-arranged invitation and introduced ourselves to the zoo staff and were allowed to enter onto the zoo grounds.  Our first order of business was to find some shade and fresh cool water.  We found shade at the zoo’s large gift shop and the fresh cool water was available from a mobile portable water tank located besides the gift building.  We sat for a while to cool down.  We then continued on our journey to explore the 35 year old zoo and its Anniversary activities.  Many of the activities were taking place at the Waterside Theatre, so we set out in its direction.  On our way we passed the camel rides.  It was fun to see the little ones lifted on the backs of the camels and lead around the dirt path.  The excitements in the children’s eyes were unforgettable.  The entrance to the Waterside Theatre was just across from the camel rides so we walked to the entrance. 

The Celebrations

For the celebrations of the Toronto Zoo’s 35th Anniversary Celebrations they had planned a number of fun family activities.  At the Waterside Theatre a magic act was taking place.  The tricks and magic that the magician and his family performed had the audience, especially the kids, on the edge of their seats with laughter and anticipation.  After the show was over we decided to explore as much of the zoo as possible.  Unfortunately the line-ups were too long for us to visit the “Sharks” at “Stingray Bay” exhibits, so we continued on our journey.  As we walked along we started to notice several people mingling around a large fence perimeter.  We looked down into the enclosure and saw a large white arctic wolf sleeping under the ledge of a rock.  We then realized that this was the start of the zoo’s newest attraction, the “Tundra Trek”.  The Tundra Trek is a new 10-acre Arctic adventure in an authentic setting of landscape of the Canadian Arctic anchored by the polar bear exhibit.  We passed several displays as we walked through the Tundra Trek until we came up on the polar bear exhibits. We went to the underneath observations windows where we could watch the bears swim and play.  At first a massive polar bear swam lazily about the pool, diving in and out of the water.  All of a sudden, it took a right turn and headed straight towards the window where Judi and I were standing.  Fortunately I had my camera ready and was able to capture a fantastic photo (see photos)... it was an "up-close and personal" experience!  As quick as it had come, it turned lazily and with one of its mammoth paws, it pushed off the window and swam up to the sunny surface.  Reluctantly we left the window and exhibit to let others enjoy the spectacle.  The rest of the trip was slow paced as the day was very hot.  Along the way we visited other fantastic exhibits including elephants, Sumatran tigers, monkeys and more.  All in all, it was another great day at the Toronto Zoo.  Happy 35th Anniversary Celebrations!