See animals up close at these wildlife parks around Toronto

Lions and tigers and bears…oh my! If you’re on the prowl for an animalistic experience, check out these wildlife parks and zoos in and around Toronto’s downtown core.

African Lion Safari

RR 1 Stn Galt, Cambridge, ON N1R 5S2

Get out your camera! Wildlife lovers can get up close and personal with hundreds of exotic animals and birds at this family-owned safari park in Cambridge. Visitors drive along nine kilometres of designed pathways as lions, giraffes, cheetahs and rhinos roam freely around the grounds in naturalized viewing areas. Too nervous to drive your own car through the animalistic surroundings? Park your vehicle and hop aboard the safari tour bus instead.

Ripleys Aquarium of Canada

288 Bremner Blvd, Toronto, ON M5V 3L9

Head towards the waterfront for an under-the-sea experience like no other at this oversized aquarium at the base of the CN Tower. The popular attraction is home to over 16,000 aquatic animals, including sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, sea turtles and thousands of species of saltwater and freshwater fish from around the world. Buy your tickets online beforehand to avoid long lineups.

Toronto Zoo

2000 Meadowvale Rd, Toronto, ON M1B 5K7

Put on your comfortable walking shoes; with over 10 kilometres of walking trails, this popular attraction is one of the largest zoos in the world and features more than 500 animal species. The sprawling animal sanctuary is organized into seven unique geographical regions where visitors can view over 5,000 animals. Don’t miss the polar bear habitat in the Tundra Trek Exhibit and the two giant pandas (Er Shun and Da Mao) in the new state-of-the-art Panda Interpretive Centre. Pick up a map at the entrance to help you navigate the grounds and plan your route.

Jungle Cat World

3667 Concession Road 6, Orono, ON L0B 1M0

This small family-owned wildlife park is known for its exotic cats and educational programs. Visitors can view leopards, lynx, bobcats, cougars, tigers and lions as well as a number of other mammals, birds and reptiles. Visit during lunchtime to tag along for the educational feeding tour, which sees an experienced zookeeper guide the group through his afternoon feeding ritual.

Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory

2500 Kossuth Rd, Cambridge, ON N3H 4R6

You’ll find thousands of colourful butterflies fluttering by inside this tropical conservatory. Free-flying exotic birds and a variety of flowering plants contribute to the tropical feeling, as does the temperate climate. The temperature inside the conservatory is kept at a humid 24-28 degrees, making it an ideal warm retreat during the cold winter months. Squeamish visitors might want to avoid the live insect terrariums and the honeybee observation hive.

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