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Zoo Camp Handbook



Zoo Camp Counsellors and Toronto Zoo Health & Safety Staff are trained and certified in First Aid and CPR. As well, there is a registered nurse on site for all major first aid/medical issues, including emergencies. If your child is sick at camp, we will do everything we can to attend to them. Parents are contacted when a child is ill and/or requires medical emergency care.

Campers who become ill are supervised by camp staff. Depending on the nature of the illness, it may be necessary for you or another authorized individual to pick up your child. Please do not send your child to Zoo Camp if they show signs/symptoms of communicable diseases, including but not limited to: COVID-19, Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis), Strep Throat, Chicken Pox (Varicella), Lice, Fifth Disease (Erythema Infectiosum), Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, Diarrhea, Flu, Fever, Rash, Vomiting.

Any child, who at the discretion of the nurse, is showing symptoms of a transferable or communicable condition, will be asked to leave the camp. Medical documentation as outlined in our refund policy is required before the child may return to camp.


We do not allow peanut and/or nut related products at Zoo Camp. Many children who attend Zoo Camp suffer from a life-threatening allergy to peanut/nut related products, exposing them to serious health risks when peanut/nut related products are consumed in their environment or shared with them.

We ask for your co-operation in taking the time to read food labels carefully to avoid sending any snacks or lunches that may contain nuts/traces of nuts with your child. This includes peanuts and tree nuts (eg. walnuts, cashews). Your understanding and co-operation in ensuring that Zoo Camp is a peanut aware camp is greatly appreciated.

What does "May Contain Traces of Nuts" mean?
It means that even if the food does not directly contain peanuts, it may have come in contact with peanuts/nuts and is not safe for a person with a nut allergy. A product might come in contact with peanuts/nuts if it is made in a place that also makes other products that do contain nuts.

What Can I Do To Help?
To avoid sending peanut/nut related products:

  • Read labels to see if peanut/nut products are present. Also avoid products that have warnings such as ‘may contain traces of nuts' on the package.
  • Check ingredient lists each time you buy a product. Ingredients may change.
  • Avoid products that do not carry an ingredients list.
  • Avoid packing "bulk foods" - the scoop you used in the raisins may have just come from the peanut bin!
  • Send an ingredient list along with any homemade items your child brings to camp.

Your understanding and co-operation in ensuring that Zoo Camp is a nut "aware" camp is greatly appreciated.


Campers receive a complimentary t-shirt while they are at Zoo Camp for the week. Campers are required to wear their t-shirts daily during camp hours in order to identify the campers as part of Zoo Camp and to ensure their safety.

Please be advised that only a select number of t-shirts are ordered for camp. To ensure that every child receives a shirt in a comfortable size, take time to choose an appropriate size. If you are unsure, remember that there is no cost difference when it comes to shirt size so it is safe to request a larger size.


Please indicate on your registration and medical form any medication that your child will be taking while at Zoo Camp. Please ensure that the medication is labelled with your child's name, dosage and time of administration of the medicine. All medications should be in their original containers when they are brought to Zoo Camp. Camp counsellors do not administer any medication to campers. In the event of a medical emergency there is a registered nurse available at the Toronto Zoo during Zoo Camp hours. All medications that are brought to Zoo Camp are held in a locked box in the camper’s home base.


Children who have been prescribed an epi-pen, puffer or inhaler for severe allergies, MUST bring and carry it with them each day of the program. Please ensure that the date on the epi-pen, puffer or inhaler is still valid. Children who arrive without their prescribed epi-pen/puffer/inhaler, or that for which the date has expired, will NOT be admitted to camp.

We require that all epi-pens/puffers/inhalers be carried in a fanny pack to be worn on the camper at all times, as during the day campers will be in various locations throughout the Toronto Zoo without their backpacks. Please ensure you indicate on your registration if your child uses an epi-pen.

Please label the fanny pack with:

  • your child's name (eg. John Anderson)
  • week of camp (eg. Week 2)
  • group name (eg. Explorers 2)

For safety reasons, epi-pens should not be carried in pockets or loose bags (which can be lost).


Campers are expected to conduct themselves in a respectful and courteous manner towards staff, other campers, Volunteers, facilities and their natural surroundings (including plants and animals). Campers who persist in behaviour that is dangerous to themselves, staff and/or other campers, or adversely affects the quality of the camp program maybe requested to leave the program and/or the Toronto Zoo for a period of time and/or for the entire week. All behavioral situations that arise will be assessed on an individual basis.


Toronto Zoo does not condone or tolerate bullying. Our goal is to provide a safe and stable environment that nurtures creativity, co-operation and community. We recognize that bullying can adversely affect both a camper's development and their camp experience. We want our campers to be happy and safe at camp, and to know that they can be expected to be treated fairly and compassionately during their time at Zoo Camp.

The camp staff are trained in strategies to quickly and effectively deal with and dispel any issues that may arise. Camp rules are followed to make sure that Zoo Camp is a fun, educational, and safe environment for all who attend and that all persons, property, plants and animals are treated with respect.

If issues do arise, they will be handled by Zoo Camp counsellors and Group Leaders. For more serious problems, the Education Supervisor and Manager may need to be involved. Zoo Camp staff expect all staff and campers to be honest, fair and empathetic toward those around them.


For the health and safety of children, there is no unsupervised contact with the animals during our program.

Each camp group will participate in at least one unique behind-the-scenes encounter with an animal and Keeper. Campers will have the opportunity to have an interactive discussion and ask their questions directly to the Keepers. Campers will also participate in at least one unique guided nature activity, such as a pond exploration, bird watching, or insect scavenger hunt. These opportunities are specially selected based on age group and weekly theme.


Zoo Camp maintains a ratio of the following for supervision:

Age range           Staff ratio

4 to 5                     1 to 6

6 to 16                   1 to 10


Severe weather
During camp, if severe weather should occur, camp staff shall adjust schedules and make appropriate arrangements to ensure the comfort and safety of all participants.

Hot weather
Zoo Camp Staff will modify camp activities to accommodate for hot weather in order to promote the health and safety of all campers. This will include frequent water breaks by drinking and refilling water bottles and adjusting activities to shaded and cooler areas of the Zoo. These precautions will allow campers to enjoy a fun and safe camp experience even during the hottest days.


Ticks are present in Ontario, including in the City of Toronto. While camp participants are active outdoors throughout their week of camp, we take precautions to ensure campers are at low risk of exposure to ticks. Please see the Toronto Public Health website for more information about ticks and Lyme disease.