A member of the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Toronto Zoo is at once a place of fun, education, and conservation. Bringing species from around the world into Scarborough, the zoo provides a rare opportunity for Toronto residents and visitors to gain a better understanding of the wild world beyond our city.
Toronto Zoo Hours of Operation
The bad news is the Toronto Zoo is closed on Christmas Day, December 25th. The great news is the zoo is open every other day of the year!
In terms of hours, the zoo is always open from at least 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with longer hours in the spring and summer. During the summer it stays open until 6 p.m. Last admission is always one hour before closing time.
The Kids Zoo, Splash Island, and the Waterside Theatre are only open in the peak summer season.
A Note About Weather
If you're waiting for a bright, hot, sunny day to visit the zoo, remember that the hotter it is, the more likely the animals are to simply relax in the sun (or the shade, depending on what kind of climate they're used to). While there is lots to be said for visiting the zoo on a sunny afternoon, slightly cooler temperatures or breaks in the heat brought on by rain storms can really liven up a number of the residents.
Toronto Zoo Admission
How much does it cost to go to the Toronto Zoo? Prices below as of March 2019.
In the winter (Oct. 15 to May 2)
- General Admission (ages 13-64) $23
- Senior (ages 65+) $18
- Child (ages 3-12) $14
- Child (ages 2 & younger) FREE
In the summer (May 4 to Oct. 14)
- General Admission (ages 13-64) $29
- Senior (ages 65+) $24
- Child (ages 3-12) $19
- Child (ages 2 & younger) FREE
You should also remember to budget extra for lunch, dinner or snacks, as much like a movie theater the zoo restaurants charge a bit more than you would usually expect. Alternately, you're welcome to bring a packed meal inside.
Other Ways to Pay
The Toronto Zoo has a variety of annual membership plans available, which give you a full year of access plus special perks. If you think you or your family will visit the zoo more than once in the next 365 days, this is an option that's well worth checking out. The zoo is also one of the six attractions available through the Toronto CityPass.
Getting to the Zoo by Public Transit
The TTC does provide service directly to the zoo, but which bus is heading there changes depending on the day of the week and the time of year. The 86A Scarborough East bus from Kennedy Station runs every day in the summer from about 6am to 8pm. After Labour Day, 86A buses operate to the zoo from Monday to Friday only. You can also take the 85 Sheppard East bus route, which operates to the zoo from Don Mills Station and Rouge Hill GO Station on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
For more route information, you can visit the TTC website or contact them at 416-393-4636.
Getting to the Zoo by Car
Driving to the Toronto Zoo is fairly straightforward. Take Highway 401 to the east side of Toronto and exit at Meadowvale Road. Head north on Meadowvale and the signs will take you right into the parking lot. Parking costs $12 per vehicle, which you pay on the way out.
The zoo is wheelchair accessible, as are the two TTC routes that service it, however, there are some steep grades. You can also borrow wheelchairs on-site with a refundable deposit, but there is only a limited number available.
Because of the nature of the zoo, they have a unique policy regarding guide dogs, which includes the need to bring proof of vaccinations. Read the full policy on the Toronto Zoo's Accessibility webpage for all the details.
Things to Do at the Toronto Zoo
Obviously, the main reason to visit the Toronto Zoo is to see the 5000+ animals who live there, but you can also enjoy zoo keeper talks and scheduled feedings, hands-on discovery areas, and special exhibits.
In summer there's the Splash Island water play area, shows at the Waterside Theatre, and camel and pony rides available. A number of special events are held at the zoo, as are day programs and camps for kids and adults alike.
The Animals of the Toronto Zoo
The Toronto Zoo's animals are grouped together based on the region of the world where they originate. This means there are animals representing several geographic regions including Indo-Malaya, Africa, the Americas (North and South America), Eurasia, Tundra Trek, Australasia and Canadian Domain - each with a cluster of buildings and outdoor enclosures. The Toronto Zoo is very large, so you may want to focus each visit on just a few areas.
Here's a taste of what to expect in each exhibit area -- for a detailed list of animal facts visit Toronto Zoo's animal page. If you're interested in one animal in particular, you should check to make sure the animal isn't temporarily off display. To do that visit the Animals Off Display page on the zoo's website.
Indo-Malaya: Some of the most popular animals in the Indo-Malayan area of the zoo are the Sumatran orangutans. Don't forget to see the variety of birds and lizards, however, and keep an eye out for the great Indian rhinoceros.
African Savannah: You might get a chance to see an African lion, cheetah, spotted hyena, African penguin and more.
African Rainforest: Head here to catch a glimpse of a naked mole rat, Western lowland gorilla, sacred ibis, royal python and pygmy hippopotamus.
Americas: Seeing the otters at play is fantastic fun, as are the Golden Lion Tamarins.
Australasia: Take a walk through the kangaroo range, and enjoy the kookaburra, lorikeet, and others in the aviary.
Eurasia: The red pandas are intriguingly raccoon-ish, but sometimes hard to spot. The barbary sheep, on the other hand, generally stand right out there for the world to see. And of course, you don't want to miss the snow leopard or the Siberian tiger.
Canadian Domain: If you're feeling a little un-Canadian for never having seen a moose, the zoo has you covered. You can also swell with national pride at the sight of the wolves, lynx, cougars, grizzlies and more.
Tundra Trek: The 10-acre Tundra Trek features a 5-acre polar bear habitat and underwater viewing area.
In addition, it's worth making time to check out the new state-of-the-art Wildlife Health Centre. This facility is the first of its kind in Canada and offers the chance to see the work the Zoo does behind-the-scenes, with access to a viewing gallery featuring the following rooms: Diagnostic Imaging, Treatment, Surgery, Clinical Lab and Endocrinology Lab. The Wildlife Health Centre is open daily from 10am to 4pm.