Unlike the traditional zoo where visitors freely roam the grounds observing animals in cages, the African Lion Safari near Toronto, Ontario, is set up to allow visitors to drive at their own pace around multi-acre reserves in which the animals roam freely.
Open daily between May and October, the African Lion Safari also stages animal shows and workshops and has a splash pad and playground.
Though the African Lion Safari is more acceptable in terms of animal welfare than zoos and amusement parks like the atrocious Marineland in Niagara Falls, which has been criticized for its animal cruelty, the elephant shows and rides at the African Lion Safari do seem archaic and humiliating to the animals while offering no educational value for viewers.
Tips for Visiting
- Driving your own vehicle around the animal reserves is at your own risk. Baboons have been known to jump on and scratch cars, pull at antennas or remove windshield wipers. Take the Safari Bus if you are concerned about your car being damaged.
- If you decide to drive your own vehicle, you have the option of a monkey-free route; monkeys tend to be the biggest car hazard.
- The park is less busy and not so hot if you arrive for the 10 am opening.
- As with most theme parks, food is generally unhealthy and overpriced. Pack a picnic lunch or at the least bring a snack and a water bottle.
- July and August can be very hot; be prepared with water, sunscreen, hats, and bring bathing suits for the kids to take advantage of the splash pad.
- Slightly rainy days are good days to visit, with fewer visitors and animals that are more active than on very hot, humid days.
- If you want to see some of the shows (Birds of Prey, Parrot, Elephants), find out their start times before you do anything else, and plan your activities around these times.
See the Animals
Animals wandering the African Lion Safari reserves include giraffes, zebras, rhinoceroses, ostriches, lions, cheetahs, baboons, and more.
Birds of prey, including eagles, hawks, owls, vultures, and falcons as well as parrots can be seen during demonstration and shows.
Gentle animals, such as baby goats, can be handled and pet at the Pets' Corner.
How Much Time to Spend at the Safari
Visitors should plan on spending at least three hours at the African Lion Safari. The drive through the animal reserves takes between an hour and two hours, but the other amenities will keep you at the park for longer. Many people arrive for the 10 am opening and stay the whole day.
Located in a rural part of Cambridge, Ontario, the African Lion Safari is about an hour from Toronto and 1.5 hours from Niagara Falls. Note that depending on your source, the location may be given as - not Cambridge - but Hamilton or Flamborough.
The route is marked clearly with blue Ontario attraction signage.
While You're in the Area
- Where to eat: Enjoy delicious Mexican food in a casual atmosphere at Latinoamerica Unida. Slightly more sophisticated than a food truck, Little Louie's Burger Joint & Soupery serves up delish fast food.
- Where to stay: Several hotels are in the vicinity of the African Lion Safari - mostly mid-range. Homewood Suites by Hilton is particularly convenient for families as each guest room has at least one bedroom plus full kitchen and double sofa sleeper. If you're looking for something a little swankier, Langdon Hall is a Relais & Chateaux property in the area.
- Other attractions: A lot of green space, farmland, and conservation areas surround the African Lion Safari.
- Some charming towns within 20-minutes travel include Elora and Fergus - famous for 19th-century architecture and a preserved mill - and St. Jacobs Country - popular with tourists because of the hiking trails, strong Mennonite presence, and artistic offerings.
- The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada is a less touristy, quieter way to observe animals roaming freely, namely, donkeys who have been rescued from abuse and/or neglect.