2010 Race 2 Finish travel blog

we parked at the sign of the bear

and the sign of the gull

the zoo has a carousel with all kinds of animals

and camel rides

it's a kid friendly place

they make everything fun

even the warnings

we started in Australia with this pretty red tree kangaroo

I say Ollie - what the hell is that?

who - me?

one bird that looks better from the back

in the Australian Pavilion they have two look-alikes - an emerald tree...

and a green tree python

the pavilion even has these beautiful sea creatures from down under

and a pig nosed turtle

this Komodo dragon is both fearsome and fearless - preying on full...

but the bronze dragon outside doesn't scare these kids

lots of 'roos'

the Amur tiger lives in this habitat - a far cry from...

the tiger sleeps peacefully

as do these New Guinea singing dogs in their little hammock

a red panda

a dromedary and a bactrian camel were in the same compound

that odd looking character is taking our picture!

yeah - aren't you glad we don't look like him?!

everywhere there are flowers

except for the grass this building looks like the zoos I remember

but look at the setting - that animal has room to graze!

we're well into Asia now and these are Przewalski wild horses from...

this is a dhole - a wild Asian dog

the zoo has a breeding pair of snow leopards

one of their recent offspring

a Barbary ape

a yawning Barbary sheep

and a nursing Barbary kid

a sharp horned something or other - didn't get all the names

emerging into a neutral area this sign greeted us

mammals large and small

like a lot of species - they're only cute when they're little

their parents have been out foraging and have brought them food

if you're a polar bear in captivity this is not a bad...

with the ice floes melting this is solid ground and you can...

or you can roll in the mud and get dirty - your...

who are you calling 'dirty'?

I'm trying to pass - as a grizzly

in the wild polar bears sometimes come into town - and this...

this artic wolf prefers to stay white

the zoo offers lessons on wolf-speak

we're in the 'Americas' now but with 2 continents that includes a...

these birds have a lot of trees and flowers to hide in...

the triangular head is a giveaway - this pretty snake is an...

the zoo's amphibian breeding center

in the Americas Pavilion there are wet critters

and dry ones



outside we saw Canada geese with broods of three different sizes -...

these were half grown

and these adolescents were almost mature

this little guy is trying to score a handout

he's a free agent - but that means nobody feeds him and...

another free agent - this red winged blackbird lights in a flowering...

there's nothing free about this blue and gold macaw - but he...

another bird we don't see out on the street

flamingos are very social birds

who make beautiful subjects

for pictures

as the tram goes by heading in the other direction we head...

and isn't this the story of Africa for the last 500 years?

the gentle gorilla

with straw in their fur they can look more dignified than a...

they care for their babies

as we care for our babies

we are sometimes more alike than we are different

so lovely you instinctivly want to hug it

the gorillas have a large outside compound

an indoor room that they use at night

the rest of the building is devoted to winter quarters for the...

and it's a very large building

the elephant has an acre or so


with peacocks - vain and obnoxious creatures - but incredibly beautiful

a hippo couple

playful with each other

but territorial and dangerous

hippos account for more human deaths than any other African animal

that being said - they do like the zoo keepers to rub...

this huge area houses several kudu




and this vulture

while this area is for zebra

and a few different kinds of birds


but where are the zebras?

you have to hunt for them

and it helps to have a good zoom lens

unfortunately there is no way to keep monkeys without resorting to a...

if you didn't pretty soon you wouldn't have any monkeys - or...

there were two ages of young here

it was fun watching them interact

sometimes getting a shout-out from mom

there was obviously a lot of affection


a large flightless bird

raised for it's meat now - we have to make use of...

they make good feather dusters too

the King of Beasts has his own play toy

and like any other cat he never turns down a tummy rub...

the African lynx has longer and more tufted ears than the North...


there was only one giraffe - unless there were others hiding

you can't get much closer to a zebra

we headed for Canada's area under a blue sky and fluffy clouds

here we found big bison

with acres and acres to roam

and tiny frogs we had to be careful not to step on

the cougar was behind a fence and hard to photograph but we...

of course we don't have to go to the zoo to see...

we have lots of them at home in California - but these...

leaving the zoo we passed through Eurasia and saw more tigers

this is a sight you only want to see in a zoo!

as is this one!

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A visit to the second largest zoo in the world


The plan today was to take the train into Toronto and see the sights. Another plan aborted. A woman at the campground told us there would be plenty of parking at the train station, but both lots were full. You would have been hard pressed to park a motor scooter and we had an RV. The choices were: return to our campground and call a cab to the station, or do something else today and go to Toronto tomorrow. We decided on Plan B and headed for the Toronto Zoo, which is nearby and has a world class reputation.

We normally prefer to see our critters in the wild, but a zoo will work if it’s a good one. The Toronto Zoo is as good as they come. It’s the world’s second largest zoo, second in size only to the San Diego Zoo in California. Having now seen both zoos I like Toronto’s zoo best, even though we never saw some of the animals. When animals in a zoo are given so much room they can hide from you, you know it's a good zoo. We did see most of the animals, and we did not begrudge the others their time to themselves.

The good news is, the grounds are spacious, ingeniously landscaped and beautiful. The bad news is, the grounds are spacious, ingeniously landscaped and HUGE. We were greeted at the gate by an elderly volunteer who cheerfully asked us, “Are you ready for a long walk?” That was at noon. Seven hours later we were worn out and relieved that the zoo was finally closing. We had to leave, but we took with us some good pictures and some even better memories.

The zoo is laid out in geographical areas, with animals grouped together that way instead of by species. There is no ‘snake house’ or ‘monkey house’ because snakes are found everywhere, and monkeys live on several different continents. Snakes and monkeys from Africa are in the African area, while snakes and monkeys from Asia are in the Asian area. It makes perfect sense to put animals where they best fit in. Why didn't someone think of it sooner?

Grazing animals have compounds so large you sometimes don’t see the residents at all. Wherever possible, compounds are landscaped to minimize or eliminate fencing. Natural looking moats allow you to look directly into a habitat. The more agile or dangerous an animal, the deeper the moat. Big cats and bears have the deepest moats, and inconspicuous electric wires provide a final barrier.

Many of the zoo’s inhabitants could not survive Canadian winters so these have indoor pavilions where they can be housed and protected from the weather. Some, like the gorilla families, come in at night even in the summertime.

Gorillas always attract a large crowd and while we watch gorillas, the gorillas are watching us. What’s behind that brooding expression and those intelligent brown eyes? What do they think as they stare back at us - and do we really want to know?

The lowest animal on the food chain has a natural dignity our own species often does not possess. Seeing animals and people in close proximity can be an embarrassing reminder of that fact. Toronto Zoo is large enough that it spreads the people out. This works to the advantage of all the species. We’ll see people enough tomorrow. Today was for the animals and while it was a long day - it was also a very good day.

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