Exploring the Toronto Zoo

I've decided to take a break from the freedom of the trails to get a different perspective.  What is the opposite of freedom? Well that depends on who you ask and how you define 'freedom'.

The opposite of freedom can mean freedom from the chains that bind you, captivity, imprisonment, confinement or freedom from fear and constraints.  

One can argue that a lot of these animals outside of these bars and chains would never survive for as long as they have here.  That they are given food and nourishment and routine check ups.  They are loved and cared for by their keepers better than anything that can be found in the wild.  But that brings me back to the word freedom.

The Toronto Zoo opened in 1974 and is situated in the Rouge River Valley.  Encompassing over 287 hectares (714 acres), it is the biggest zoo in Canada. 

There are over 5,000 animals (including invertebrates and fish) representing over 450 species.  

When I looked at the animals I sometimes felt their loneliness, and in some cases their loss of freedom.    

We started coming in to the park and came upon a long line up before getting our admission and maybe for a split second we were going to turn around and hit the trails instead (Rouge Valley Conversation Trail), but we decided to pay the animals a visit, literally.  

After entering the park, you are almost immediately barricaded by the traditional tourist taunts.  Like colourful, shiny and mirrored horses on a merry-go-round; A square-paned glass gift shop called "The Green-House" ; an enchanting arched bridge which carried you into the entrance of the animals.

First up  Red River Hogs from South Africa, Wild Boars from the South America and Tapir from Southeast India. I found the Tapir very interesting.  It has a nose that it can use to pick up small objects.  

It can also breath underwater through their nose by using the same method as we do with the snorkel!  They are fairly gentle animals and their defenses are pretty much their keen sense of smell, and their ability to use camoflague effectively.  The babies curl up with their black and white outer shell making them look like tiny watermelons, doing undetected.  

The adults will lay still in the shade of the forest in the night like a large rock that is bathing in moonlight.  They also have a thick skin at the back of their necks also important to their survival.  


The zoo is divided into seven geographical regions: the Indo-Malaya, where you experience the humidity of the rain forest, and witness butterflies flying about your head and Orangutans hanging off of tree limbs.  

India, where you'll see the Rhinoceros and the Long-tailed Macaque.   Africa, where you'll see the white lion, speedy cheetahs, the long elephant, the hippos, the antelopes, meerkats, giraffes and baboons.   

The Canadian Domain has raccoons, cougars, a bald eagle, grizzlies, meese (mooses?), bison and of course the ferocious chipmunk.

The birds were everywhere in all parts of the zoo.  Found in the rain-forested walk-through which was surrounded by lovely water falls and dense forestry, such as the South American Blue Jay, the Macaws and the Pink Flamingos of the Americas.   

Throughout the day, I was constantly reminded of all of the great times my husband and I had taking the kids to the zoo when they were young.  It's funny but as soon as it is close to 6:00 in the afternoon, all the kids starts getting restless, tired and cranky as do the parents by this time.  

It comes to mind that perhaps freedom to any of these animals is like nothing left to lose.  I mean they have been chosen in a sense, and though it may have been against their will or their best interest, I really don't see the harm in saving an animal from extinction or from the wild.   

The Zoological society of Toronto has a commitment to saving those species that are injured or in danger like 3 polar bears from the wild in 2011 and over 120 animals in 2012.

All in all visiting these critters, both large and small gave a new hope to having boundaries that are safe. Being safe is just as important as possessing total freedom in an unsafe planet.  This place is like an animals paradise.