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Toronto Zoo History

Milestones of the Toronto Zoo



2015
  • Toronto Zoo’s five-year Strategic Plan is launched.
  • Toronto Zoo and the Scarborough Hospital work together to perform foot surgery on a Western Lowland gorilla.
  • New state of the art Wildlife Health Centre begins construction.
  • Pan Am Torch relay visits the Toronto Zoo and Maxi Domi is the Torchbearer.
  • The Toronto Zoo opens new Augmented Reality Experience called “Wild Connections.” This exhibit features the world premiere of National Geographic’s Air, Land & Sea.
  • 35 year-old frozen sperm result in birth of artificially inseminated wood bison calf.
  • Toronto Zoo successfully breeds the endangered Massasauga rattlesnake.
  • Four male white lion cubs are born.
  • First giant panda cubs born in Canada.
  • Polar bear (female) cub born.
  • The Toronto Zoo welcomed a new breading male Masai giraffe, “Kiko”, from Greenville Zoo in South Carolina, USA.
2014
  • “B. Johnny” the first Burmese star tortoise hatches in Canada.
  • The first group of Threatened Blanding’s turtles headstarted by Toronto Zoo are released into restored wetlands in the Rouge Valley.
  • The number of Critically Endangered Puerto Rican crested toads born at Toronto and sent for release in Puerto Rico tops 140,000.
  • The Toronto Zoo welcomes a new female Western Lowland gorilla, “Nneka”.
  • Tim McCaskie, Toronto Zoo Wildlife Care Keeper, was one of the field project leaders that made an important discovery of four rare and endangered fishes in Madagascar.
  • The Toronto Zoo becomes the first zoo in Canada to perform artificial insemination (AI) with a giant panda.
  • The Toronto Zoo receives a $2 million donation from the estate of Mary Millard making it the single largest donation in the Zoo’s 40 year history.
  • The Toronto Zoo opens the Masai Giraffe Exhibit and one of Canada’s largest indoor giraffe viewing houses.
  • Consul General of China and Toronto Zoo Board of Management  co-host the Moon Festival Gala in support of Giant Panda Conservation Fund.
  • The Toronto Zoo’s celebrates 40 years of saving and protecting species at home and abroad on August 15, 2014.
  • Microsoft Canada donates $2 million in software to support of Engaging Youth in Conservation.
  • The newly renovated Eurasia Wilds reopens.
  • Tundra Air opens.
2013
  • "Er Shun" and "Da Mao", a pair of giant pandas arrive on loan for five years from the Peoples' Republic of China.
  • The Toronto Zoo’s Great Lakes Program is awarded the provincial "Minister's Award for Environmental Excellence".
  • Mrs. Laureen Harper, FedEx Express Canada & Toronto Zoo announce that FedEx will deliver the giant pandas from China and bamboo from Memphis from 2013-2018 on Canada AM in February 2013.
  • Toronto Zoo’s Harlem Shake, announcing the giant panda’s March 25th arrival date, goes viral.
  • Toronto Zoo Giant Panda Mascots open the Toronto Stock Exchange in April 2013.
  • Prime Minister Harper officially welcomes & signs for giant pandas.
  • Giant pandas receive a huge airport welcome & extensive media and social media coverage.
  • Giant Panda Exhibit Opening Day saw a record 15,000 visitors who came to see Er Shun and Da Mao, with over 56,000 visiting the Zoo over the course of the long weekend. Over 250 VIPs & Dignitaries previewed the giant pandas. 18 major, and national, media outlets covered the launch.
  • The new Eurasia Wilds Zoomobile Drive Thru opens.
  • The Amazing Race Canada featured the Toronto Zoo during the season finale.
  • The Toronto Zoo said goodbye to our three African elephants Iringa, Toka and Thika and said hello to Mstari, our 17th giraffe baby born at the Toronto Zoo.
  • The largest amphibian, & the only one in Canada, the giant Chinese salamander goes on exhibit in Panda Interpretive Centre.
  • Polar bear cub, “Humphrey” is born.
  • The giant pandas make the cover of Reader’s Digest.
  • New Panda Interpretive Centre awarded 2013 HOW Magazine International Design Award of Merit.
  • Giant pandas featured on The Rick Mercer Report.
2012
  • "Hudson" the polar bear cub is born.
  • Toronto Zoo introduces three new white lions, as a permanent addition to our African Savanna family.
  • The Sumatran Orangutans join the iPad generation.
  • Gorilla Ropes Course opens.
  • The Toronto Zoo officially launches the new Giant Panda Exhibit with a ground breaking ceremony in October 2012.
  • Toronto Zoo CEO John Tracogna goes undercover on “Undercover Boss Canada”.
2011
  • South part of African Rainforest Pavilion re-opens with new animals including Ring-tailed lemurs and Jackson's chameleons.
  • New endangered African penguin exhibit opens.
  • The first group of Endangered wood turtles headstarted by Toronto Zoo are released to the wild in Huron County.
  • “Hudson” the polar bear cub is born.
  • Toronto and Calgary Zoos’ Vancouver Island Marmot recovery program wins AZA North American Conservation Award.
  • The Ontario Government provides funding to the Toronto Zoo to honour Korean-Canadian Dr. Schofield with a statue and memorial garden.
  • For the third year in arrow the Toronto Zoo releases black-footed ferrets, who were born at the Zoo, into Grasslands National Park.
2010
  • Conservation Carousel opens.
  • First Nations Art Garden opens.
  • Zoo unveils statue of Canadian and Korean hero Dr. Frank Schofield.
  • Study reports Zoo delivers economic impacts annually to city, province and federally.
  • Visitors make Toronto Zoo #1 cell phone recycler in North America.
  • The Toronto Zoo opens its doors for Zoo School, welcoming its first set of secondary students obtaining their Grade 11 Biology course credit.
  • The first Wyoming toads, extinct in the wild, arrive at Toronto for breeding and release program.
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper endorses the effort to bring a pair of giant pandas to Canada as a Giant Panda Cooperation and Research Project with China.
2009
  • Black-footed ferrets bred at Toronto Zoo and extirpated on Canadian prairies, returned to homeland in Saskatchewan's Grasslands National Park.
  • BFF conservation moves into critical Phase 2 with monitoring in the wild.
  • The Zoo celebrated its 35th anniversary.
  • Stingray Bay, short-term exhibit, returns, this year with the addition of sharks!
  • Zoo unveils first ever carbon-neutral exhibit for the lion-tailed macaques.
  • Award-winning new 10-acre Tundra Trek exhibit opens.
  • The Zoo opens the Amphibian Rescue Centre in response to the global amphibian decline crisis. Critically Endangered Oregon Spotted frogs from British Columbia arrive at Toronto for breeding and release program. 
  • Two critically endangered snow leopard cubs are born.
  • Western Lowland gorilla “Nassir” is born.
  • Nine Vancouver Island marmots are born, they are one of the most critically endangered mammals in the world.
2008
  • Zoo launches Year of the Frog in response to global amphibian crisis.
  • Great Barrier Reef opens, featuring moon jellies, potbellied seahorses, bamboo sharks and many other fascinating species.
  • Ngozi, a female Western Lowland gorilla, arrives from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle as a possible mate for Charles, leader of the Toronto Zoo's gorilla troop.
  • Zoo attempts to raise awareness in Year of the Frog by breaking the Guinness World Book of Records record for leap-frogging.
  • Stingray Bay - A Touching Experience - opens to public. This is a short term exhibit.
  • Toronto Zoo veterinarians and Ontario Veterinary College surgeons and anesthesiologist performed a ventral abdominal procedure on a white rhino with the assistance of Toronto Zoo Staff and Toronto Fire Services.
2007
  • Two critically endangered Amur (Siberian) tiger cubs born.
  • Two rare snow leopard cubs born.
  • Dinosaurs Alive! opens, displaying 16 animated dinosaurs.
  • First ever "Roads and Ecopassages Forum" takes place.
2006
  • Zoo wins Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) top award for captive breeding critically endangered black-footed ferrets.
  • Two rare Sumatran tiger cubs are born.
  • Zoo launches Canada's first ever webcam inside Sumatran tiger maternity den.
  • Eco Cell program announced to recycle used cell phones and help save gorilla habitat.
2005
  • New male gorilla born March 7, later named "Sadiki".
  • New interactive drumming program, Drum Cafe, introduced for the summer at Waterside Theatre.
  • New Animal Trax - Concerts@ the Zoo introduced with Jesse Cook, Ron Sexsmith and the Cowboy Junkies performing.
  • Record-breaking heat waves in June and July.
2004
  • Opening of Kids Zoo, Final Phase of Zellers Discovery Zone.
  • Toronto Zoo celebrates 30th Birthday.
  • Toronto Zooarts Festival tested on-site for the summer season.
  • "Zoos and Aquariums Take Action" project led by Toronto Zoo and wins CAZA's Thomas R. Baines Award for outstanding effort.
  • Community based program, “Operation Conservation”, receives the LEO Award for Creativity in Education.
2003
  • Opening of Amphitheater, Phase 2 of the Zellers Discovery Zone.
  • SARS crisis in Toronto rocks tourism industry.
  • First birth of 3 Sumatran Tigers in Canada.
  • First hatchings of Komodo Dragons in Canada.
  • Toronto Zoo rescues male polar bear cub, later named Inukshuk.
2002
  • Opening of Zellers Splash Island, Phase 1 of Zellers Discovery Zone.
  • Two Koalas on exhibit for the summer.
  • Interactive Lorikeet feeding and Aussie walkabout exhibits opened.
2001
  • Gorilla Rainforest exhibit opens. Exhibit wins CAZA's (Canadian Association of Zoos & Aquariums) prestigious Thomas R. Baines Award for outstanding effort.
  • Toronto Zoo rescues two female polar bear cubs, later named Aurora & Nikita.
2000
  • Construction completed on Gorilla Rainforest.
  • Canadian Society of Landscape Architects honours the Zoo and Marshall, Macklin Mongahan Ltd. with the National Merit and Regional Honour awards for the African Savanna Exhibit.
  • Eyelash vipers go on display.
  • Havana Zoo donates Caribbean flamingos.
1999
  • Toronto Zoo celebrates 25th birthday.
  • Construction begins on Gorilla Rainforest.
  • Indo-Malaya Fish Capital project was completed introducing new freshwater exhibits.
1998
  • African Savanna opens.
  • Serengeti Bush Camp opens for first season.
  • Amalgamation of Metro Municipalities results in name change for Toronto Zoo.
1997
  • Komodo dragons become feature exhibit.
1996
  • Koalas on exhibit for the summer.
  • Naked mole rats go on exhibit.
  • Zoological Society amalgamates with Toronto Zoo.
  • Ducks Unlimited funds Wetlands exhibit.
1995
  • White Lions of Timbavati on exhibit for the summer.
  • First birth of Tasmanian devils in North America.
  • "Charles" the gorilla raises $37,000 through his artwork.
  • Fish Capital project opens the research wing of the Animal Health Centre with the new Fish Lab, Amphibian/reptile holdings and mammal climate control chambers.
1994
  • Orange-kneed tarantula bred - first breeding in North America.
  • Sumatran tigers arrive.
  • Celebration of Cats exhibit.
  • Wombats produce young for first time.
1993
  • Metro Toronto Zoo receives the AZA Conservation Award for the Black-footed ferrets.
  • Red Panda exhibit re-opens.
  • Malayan Woods Pavilion opens.
1992
  • Metro Toronto Zoo hosts AAZPA/CAZPA Conference.
  • Site wide capital program to upgrade the Zoo waterway and incorporate natural features.
1991
  • Warthogs arrive. Special show, "Celebration of Pigs", opens for four months.
1990
  • Spotted-neck otter exhibit opens.
  • Sea Creatures: a display of animated pre-historic sea animals opens for four months.
1989
  • Caracal lynx exhibit opens.
  • Dinamation, a display of animated dinosaurs, opens for four months.
1988
  • Opening of Americas Pavilion Primate Wing.
  • Pair of Koalas arrive on summer loan from San Diego Zoo.
  • New reptile exhibits completed in Australasia Pavilion.
1987
  • Maya Temple exhibit opens.
  • Wolf Woods exhibit opens.
1986
  • Golden Monkeys arrive on loan from China for 100 days.
  • New Society Building officially opened.
  • Calvin White appointed General Manager. Renovations to the Fur seal exhibit completed.
  • Zoo Camp opens for the first time. Andrew Lentini, one of the first camp counsellors, later goes on to become Curator of Amphibians & Reptiles.
1985
  • Pair of giant pandas arrive on loan for three months from the Peoples' Republic of China.
1984
  • The Children's Zoological Centre opens, Indian Rhinoceros Pavilion opens.
  • The Adopt an Animal Program launched by Zoo. Society.
1983
  • Elephant House is officially opened. Ron Barbaro appointed Interim Director.
  • Australasia Pavilion's "Edge of Night" nocturnal section opens.
1982
  • Littlefootland and snow leopard exhibit open.
1981
  • Dr. Peter Crowcroft appointed General Director.
1980
  • Official opening of guar house and Zoomobile ride.
  • Metro Toronto Zoo receives accreditation from American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums (AAZPA)
1977
  • Governing powers transferred from the Zoological Society to newly formed Metropolitan Toronto Zoo Board of Management. Ron Barbaro is Chairman.
1976
  • Canadian Domain Train (Monorail) opens to public.
  • Mr. T. W. (Tommy) Thompson appointed Interim Director.
1975
  • Dr. Phillip Ogilvie appointed General Director.
1974
  • METRO TORONTO ZOO OPENS TO PUBLIC ON AUGUST 15.
  • First Volunteers trained for Volunteer program.
  • Toronto Zoo hires the first full-time nutritionist in North America.
1973
  • Management Committee formed.
1971
  • First major contract awarded.
1970
  • Dr. Gunter Voss appointed Director of Zoo. Clearing and grading begins.
1969
  • Metropolitan Toronto Zoological Society incorporated.
  • Cecilia Long becomes Chairperson.
  • Johnson, Sustronk, Weinstein and Associates Ltd. prepare Masterplan approved in September.
1968
  • Feasibility Study on new Zoo submitted by architect Raymond Moriyama
1967
  • Metro Council approves Glen Rouge as site for new zoo.
1966
  • Eleven citizens meet at City Hall to form Metropolitan Toronto Zoological Society.
  • Mr. Crothers is first Chairman.
1963
  • Mr. Hugh Crothers presents private citizen's brief to build a new zoo.
1952
  • Dr. Norman Scollard appointed Curator of Riverdale Zoo.
1949
  • Citizen's committee formed to look into construction of a major new zoo.
1888
  • Alderman Lamb donates deer; Riverdale Zoo is born.