Alerts

Please note February 3rd to February 4th 2023, Zoomobile may be experiencing closures and delays due to weather and unforeseen circumstances.
Please note that due to the cold temperatures expected, the Conservation Carousel will be closed on Saturday, February 4.

Please also note our Zoomobile will now be taking an alternate route through the Eurasia Wilds and will no longer be travelling through the Eurasia Drive Thru.


Please note the following animals that may not be viewable at this time:

Americas Pavilion
Two-toed sloth, golden lion tamarin, white-faced saki, river otter, Eastern loggerhead shrike, and black-footed ferret are all currently not viewable due to habitat maintenance.

Eurasia Wilds
The Stellar Sea Eagles are currently not viewable.

Canadian Domain: 
Closed for the season.

African Savanna:
Some animals may not be viewable due to decreasing temperatures.

Kids Zoo
Closed for the season.


Saturday, February 25 - Move Your Paws for the Polar Bear Cause 5K/1K Run/Walk

Please be advised that your Toronto Zoo and Canada Running Series will be hosting the Move Your Paws for the Polar Bear Cause 5K/1K Run/Walk at the Zoo on February 25th to raise funds for the Toronto Zoo Wildlife Conservancy and polar bear conservation. 

Please note the following operational impacts:

  • For their well-being, some animals along the Move Your Paws route may be delayed going out on habitat in the morning. Guests may experience slight delays on other pathways as the run finishes and the race route is cleared. 
    • Tundra Trek: Caribou will not be visible and the path to the Caribou habitat will be closed for the entire day
  • Zoomobile: Begins operating at 11:45 am
Lionfish
Lionfish
Fish

Location at the Zoo:
Australasia
Region: Australasia


Lionfish

These dramatic looking fish are striped in varying shades of red, black, brown, orange, and white. They boast long elegant pectoral fins that are fan-like and extend well beyond the tail, as well as a spiky first dorsal fin. These fins give the fish the appearance of a lion's mane, which makes "lionfish" their common name. Their dorsal spines are long and individual. These fish reach lengths of 30 - 40 cm and can weigh up to 2.5 kg. Their eyes are hidden by colour patterns beneath a bony ridge across their face.

Conservation Status: IUCN




Distribution:

Originating in the Indo-Pacific, these fish are now an invasive species in warm oceans worldwide.

Habitat:

Lionfish inhabit tropical reefs, rocky cliffs and crevices in marine environments.

Diet:

Lionfish are carnivores, eating a variety of fish, shrimp, and crabs - just about anything they can fit into their mouths. They sometimes cannibalize members of their own species when food is scarce.

Reproduction:

Generally, they are solitary creatures, but they will come together to breed. Usually there will be one male lionfish with a few females. They are very territorial, and will actively defend their territory against other lionfish. Males are very aggressive and will display to other males by spreading their fins and swimming with their venomous spines directed toward the intruder. If necessary, there will be a fight with biting and stinging, until one of the males swims away.

The female releases her eggs into the water - an average clutch might be about 8000 eggs, with numbers varying from 2,000 to 15,000. The male fertilizes them before they float off into the ocean. In two days the eggs that have not succumbed to predation will hatch. The fry will stay close to the surface until they reach a couple of centimetres in length. Juveniles tend to stay in groups, and descend to the reef as they get bigger. It takes about 18 months for lionfish to reach maturity. They can live 5 to 15 years.

Adaptation:

Lionfish have 13 needle-like dorsal fins that can deliver powerful venom. The sting is very painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but it is rarely fatal. Although the lionfish is the most venomous fish in the ocean, the venom is purely for defensive purposes. The fish relies on camouflage and its fast reflexes to catch prey. It spreads its pectoral fins to herd small fish into a small space in order to swallow them more easily. With their huge mouths, they can swallow fish almost as large as they are. They are relatively inactive swimmers, trusting in their bright colours and startling patterns to warn predators of the danger in their venom. They are nocturnal, hunting mainly at night.

Threats to Survival:

Lionfish are caught as food in some places. They are also popular in the aquarium trade. They have few predators due to their size and imposing appearance, but they are hunted by eels, frogfish, and scorpion fish. These fish are non-migratory, but have become an invasive species due to human interference, or accidents causing damage to aquaria, as was the case during a Florida hurricane. As an invasive species, they are also hunted by people to reduce the threat to native fish species.