Some days stay in my mind forever and the same will be true of yesterday. I planned a spontaneous surprise for the family. Saturday morning dawned sunny and thankfully much cooler than it’s been lately. We left at 7:30 a.m. and drove for two hours until we got to Elmvale, which is a little town between Wasaga Beach and Barrie (in Ontario). There is a Jungle Zoo in Elmvale that I’d heard about and read wonderful reviews about online, so rather than make the longer and more expensive trek to the Toronto Metro Zoo, I opted to try the small-town zoo. Your initial reaction might be what mine was when I first heard about this place: “What kind of zoo can a tiny town in the middle of nowhere have?” The Elmvale Zoo, however, far exceeded my expectations. It was a truly wonderful way to spend a summer morning with my kids, who were both bursting with excitement when they discovered where we were.
This Zoo was established in 1967 and has grown to cover 25 acres of land with more than 300 animals, from tigers, lions, and jaguars to monkeys, parrots, and antelope, among many others. All animals were born in captivity, so they know no life in the wild. It’s situated in a forest with hard-packed dirt paths that lead between exhibits, easy to manage with the stroller and never far from shade. The kids could get up close to most of the animals and even feed them, as you’ll see in the pictures below.
This baby lemur was my favourite animal of all. As soon as it saw us approach, it exploded out of its enclosure and put on a real show for us, bouncing like a rubber ball from the fence where we stood to the ground, up in a nearby tree, then back onto the sign. It was so cute and curious.
The deer were skittish but eager for food. At first I thought that the spots meant they were all fawns but then one littler deer started nursing from a bigger spotted deer, so I guess they all have spots. These are from the Mediterranean region.
The giraffes amazed me with their friendliness and curiosity. As soon as they saw us approach the fence, they pranced over to visit. We fed them pellets of the food we’d bought at the zoo entrance while getting plenty of licks and nuzzles. A giraffe’s size is simply stunning. I’ve seen giraffes at the Toronto Zoo but I’ve never been so up close; it makes them even more impressive.
I have a thing for goats. I absolutely love them, especially when they’re babies and so full of endearing energy. This was an enclosure filled with Mini Goats who never grow past the size you see in the picture. As we stepped inside, L. started squealing with more glee than I’ve ever seen. He loves animals and these ones were perfect playmates just his size.
The interactive animal show featured a tortoise, a python that the kids got to touch, a timber wolf puppy (that was abandoned by his mother and is now being raised at the zoo with his siblings), a black-and-white lemur, a macaw, and this little kangaroo who did some impressive hopping for us.
The python was sleeping near the entrance when we arrived but was more active when we left. It was cooling off in some water, then slithered its vast length back onto the ground. It came right up to the window to stare at the row of little boys, flicking its forked tongue in and out. I’m not sure if this one is albino, but apparently it’s the same kind of python as the more typical darker brown kind.
We spent four hours at the zoo, enjoying a picnic lunch and watching an interactive animal show. All four of us left happy and excited at having made such an exciting discovery in our corner of the province. We’ll definitely be back.