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1.  What you can do
2.  Water
3.  Ecology
4.  Amphibians
5.  Environmental Issues
6.  Keystone species
7.  Get Wet!-
     Field Study Ideas

8.  The Zoo Experience
9.  Frogs & Friends
10. Case Studies
11. Resources
12. Glossary

Wetland Curriculum Resource
Unit 8. The Zoo Experience

Expected learning outcomes >>
List of Activities for this unit >>
Background for educators >>

The Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo was the first major zoo to leave behind the traditional practice of creating a "Reptile House", "Monkey House" or "Cat House" in favour of grouping animals together according to zoogeography. Zoogeography correlates the distribution of animals to their natural ranges and preferred habitats. The Zoo groups animals together by regions and then attempts to recreate mini-habitats of large ecosystems, like the African savannah or, on a smaller scale, a beaver pond. Throughout the Zoo, natural and artificial structures create the habitats required by the animals and, wherever practical, different species are grouped together as they would appear in the wild.

Experiencing Wetlands At The Zoo

During your visit you will come upon many areas that will provide you with a close-up look at wetlands and the wild life that make wetlands of all kinds their home.

1. Zoo Waterway

An artificial waterway runs through the Zoo, flowing under the bridge at the front entrance and continuing through the upland pavilion area of the Zoo to the Americas waterfall where it forms part of the South American waterfall exhibit. During the summer season you might see flamingos, macaws, spider monkeys, jaguars, capybara and other South American animals at the waterfall. Along the waterway, native species of ducks, Canada geese, gulls, frogs, muskrat, and other wetland wild life make the waterway their home during the spring, summer, and fall. During the winter many species overwinter here and a few hearty souls stay on, taking advantage of the open water created by our bubbling system and, of course, the free food they find in the nearby Zoo animal enclosures!

2. Wetland Habitat Demonstration Area

The Zoo's wetland demonstration area was designed as both an educational and demonstration area, and a natural system to clean surface water runoff. It is made up of two temporary (ephemeral ponds), and three permanent ponds. The ponds have been to typify specific habitats including cat-tails, bulrushes, bur-reeds, a meadow marsh and shrub marsh. Around the ponds, native grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs have been planted. This area is alive with native wild life and with a vast array of insects and aquatic life. During the spring, our busy time for school visits, volunteers often operate a marsh cart, allowing classes to get a first hand look at the pond life.

3. "Wetlands of Ontario" (Americas Pavilion)

This exhibit includes ponds with a beavers and river otters, turtles, frogs, fishes, invertebrates, and aquatic plants and tells the story of threatened wetland communities in Ontario. It includes a cross-section of a beaver's lodge and many of the interpretive graphics are interactive, for example, allowing visitors to play the calls of various Ontario frogs.

4. Weston Pond

Weston Pond makes a pleasant trip on warm spring day or when you have an energetic group of students. On your way to the pond you will pass a number of exhibits of Canadian wild life and, at the pond, you will see a variety of resident wild life species.

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