Monday, November 19, 2012

At The Toronto Zoo (Part 1)

In August of this past summer, we had the opportunity to visit the Toronto Zoo, located in (obviously) Toronto, Ontario in Canada. Encompassing 287 hectares (710 acres), it is one of the largest zoos in the world. There are over 10 kilometers (six miles) of walking trails, so wearing comfortable shoes when you visit is imperative!

The zoo has over 5,000 animals representing over 500 species, and although we spent the entire day there, we still didn’t get to see all of them. A place this large with so much to explore requires more than one visit. I hope to return at some point in the future.

But for now, I’d like to share some of the images I took that day. And because there are quite a few photos, I’ve created three separate posts, so that I may be able to include some information about the animals along with the photos without overwhelming you.

So away we go...

From May to September of each year, the zoo imports thousands of butterfly pupae from the Philippines and Malaysia. More than 30 species of butterflies will fly around the Malayan Woods Pavilion, which we visited. It is one of the most extraordinary places, and I would like to return to take more images. Below are just a few of the gorgeous butterflies I saw through my camera lens.


This is the lion-tailed macaque, a medium-sized monkey with a glossy black coat and a wide, grey fringe of hair forming a ruff or a mane on both sides of its head. It gets its name from its long tail, which has a tassel at the end similar to a lion’s. These macaques are omnivores, but their diet consists mainly of fruit. The monkey below is clearly enjoying the fruit he (or she) is munching on.

"Mine...all mine"
These macaques are an endangered species. The main threat of their survival in the wild is destruction of their habitat to make room for plantations of coffee, tea and eucalyptus. There are about 400 of these animals in zoos, most of which have been bred in captivity.


Are you afraid of snakes? I hope not, because the next few images are ‘sssslithery’. I’m not queasy around these creatures, so I enjoy getting up close and personal to take photos. Of course, it helps that they’re behind glass!

I’m not entirely sure what type this is, but I suspect it may be the Eastern smooth green snake (Opheodrys vernalis). If you think it’s something else, please let me know.

Every creature needs companionship, even snakes. I love the way these two are cuddling.

This is one of my favourite photos of the day because I managed to snap the photo right when the snake stuck its tongue out. Talk about perfect timing!


Some animals were almost impossible to photograph because of their location or because they simply retreated as far away as possible from the crowds. I can’t say I blame them, since I do that myself at times. Being an introvert and all. But enough about me...

This is the only semi-decent photo I managed to take of the Sumatran Tiger, which is a critically endangered species because of the loss of habitat due to the expansion of the human population, and the logging of forests. The elimination of natural prey and the poaching for tiger parts are also threats to this beautiful animal’s survival. Sadly, it is estimated that only 300 – 500 of these animals exist in the wild. The Toronto Zoo has been participating in the Species Survival Program (SSP) for Sumatran tigers since 1994.


The next three images are of the red river hog, which can be found in west and central sub-Saharan Africa to northern South Africa and Madagascar in the wild. Aside from lions, hyenas and pythons, their main enemy is the leopard who will kill their young. But because of the pig's strength, sharp tusks and belligerent disposition, many leopards have been forced into trees by the hostile actions of adult pigs.

I must add that this was one of the most entertaining areas to visit that day at the zoo, not because the animals were doing anything out of the ordinary, but because a lot of parents were exclaiming to their kids “Look [Tommy...Cindy...Johnny...Sally]! It’s an anteater!” Hardly. [snort]


Below are Egyptian geese, found in Africa, south of the Sahara to and including South Africa as well as the Nile Valley. They have also been successfully introduced into Great Britain during Victorian times, with established feral populations primarily in East Anglia. There is also a wild population in Winnipeg, Manitoba.


And finally for today, the Sacred ibis, which is found throughout Africa, east to the Persian Gulf and Madagascar. It has also been introduced into parts of Europe. The ibis has a special place in ancient Egyptian history, as it was once associated with Thoth, an ancient Egyptian god and patron of writing, wisdom and magic, who was depicted as having the body of a man and the head of an ibis.

In ancient Egypt, millions of ibises were mummified and placed in tombs as offerings to the gods, and their sacredness was often recorded in ancient hieroglyphs.

The sacred ibis, once so important in ancient Egyptian culture, is now extinct in Egypt. Habitat destruction, insecticide use and poaching have all caused its decline. The last reported sighting was in 1891.

That’s all for now. Parts two and three of 'At The Toronto Zoo' will be posted on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, so please come back for more.

See also
At The Toronto Zoo (Part 2)
At The Toronto Zoo (Part 3)


  1. I love your photo of the two cuddling snakes. That's my first glimpse of a red river hog. And I think they look very cute with their bristly long-haired sections.

    1. I'd never seen a red river hog before, either. Quite an interesting animal.

  2. I really enjoyed this, my second visit to the Toronto Zoo, Martha.
    I see you had a good 'photo day'. These shots are really good.

    I think this zoo has changed somewhat since 1964 when I last was there!

    1. Wow, 1964! That's awhile back. I'm sure plenty has changed since then :)

  3. It's probably close to 10 years since I visited the Toronto zoo. I need to get back there! It's a fabulous facility. As always, great pics Martha. I also like snakes - I find them quite fascinating. Those poor Egyptian ducks look like they could use a good night's sleep - those are some major dark circles, lol!

    1. Hahaha...yes, it was the first hting I thought of with those ducks. A little more sleep is due!

  4. I'll be back for sure. It has been years since I was there and I didn't have a camera in those days. Now I can enjoy the trip all over thru your pictures. I thought those pigs were fascinating. They certainly have faces only a mother could love so I laughed when I read the adult can scare a leopard up a tree if it threatens its family!!

    1. Don't mess with those pigs! At least they are able to protect their families. I hope to visit this zoo again in the spring. I find that summer is not the best time. It's too hot, and most animals just snooze.

  5. Your snake pictures appear to be of the Red-tailed green ratsnake. They are in the Malayan Woods along with the butterflies. In one of your pictures you can see the tail which is red as the name implies. The Toronto Zoo website also has a photo and information about this snake on their website.

    1. Thanks for the information! I'll have to look that up.