My Toronto Zoo pass expires this month. I am not renewing it. I have had one for four years. The only good thing I can say about having one is that if we got to the Zoo and it was a madhouse, we could always turn around and come back another day without feeling the pressure to stay.
The Zoo is not cheap. It costs $8 to park and then (if you’re unlucky enough not to get a close spot to the entrance), you haul yourself to the entrance to pay another $20 per adult (age 13+) and $12 per child. You have to ask for a map if you want to know where you’re going once you’re in there (they are not offered to you nor are there any to pick up once you get in) and then you’re in with acres of land to trek to see (if you’re lucky) a few animals. Oh, you also have to pay for anything “fun” once you’re in on top of what you paid to get in (the Zoomobile [$7/person], camel rides, pony rides, etc. [$6/person]). And let’s not even talk about the price of food in there (many moons ago there used to be a McDonald’s which was affordable – apparently that was a bad idea).
You’d think with all the money it costs to get in a do things, the Zoo would be top notch. Ha!!! The place is as rundown as it can be. According to the Zoomobile tour guide, this is called “letting nature take its course”. Uh-huh. This is called “let’s spend the money on anything but the Zoo”. My eldest daughter’s class adopted a snow leopard last year (the Zoo is big on people “adopting” their animals – more money!). The day after they adopted it, the Zoo sent an E-mail to their teacher, telling her that the 2 year old leopard had died. Did they get their money back? No. Wonder what happened to it? They certainly didn’t get a shot at another, more robust, animal.
Like I said, I’ve had a pass for four years. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen certain animals in the Zoo during those four years (and we went fairly often – to get our moneys worth out of the pass, not for the love of the Zoo). This year, we were invited (being Members) to a “sneak peek” of the stingray exhibit. Guess what? It cost money to get into! No mention of that in the invitation. Of course, being a Member, I paid a whopping dollar less per person than Joe Average, but still. All we did was stand there and look at the rays (since the deaths of the rays in Alberta, no one’s allowed to touch them anymore). I saw larger rays in Florida for free. In their own habitat! Imagine that.
The entire Americas section is under construction. Does anyone know that? Of course not. There’s no mention of it anywhere in the Zoo. Poor people are slogging around to the back of the Zoo (which takes quite a while to get to since it’s laid out so crazily) only to find that there are no animals. Lots of machinery, though. You’d think they could put up a sign at the entrance telling people not to bother going back there. I suppose that would take some money which they don’t seem to like using (at least for Zoo purposes).
I am not renewing my pass. Sorry Toronto Zoo. You just don’t utilize yourself well enough to deserve my money anymore. If we feel the need to see some animals, we’ll go to the Bowmanville Zoo. It’s not large, but it makes up in size for the proximity and number of animals. They deserve my hard earned money (plus they do a show that you don’t have to pay for!). Gotta love that.