Big changes are coming to the Toronto Zoo, and no, it’s not a new animal exhibit.
Toronto City Council has recently approved a plan that will allow the Toronto Zoo to expand its borders in the future to “better support the ongoing and future needs of the Zoo”.
“Agreement grants permission for the Zoo to use lands for its operations, portions of which are owned by either the City or Toronto and Region Conservation Authority,” reads the Executive Committee’s report.
Part of the expansion will allow the Zoo to have more space for breeding and growing feed for some of its animals.
However, the more monumental addition that is outlined in the Zoo’s 2015-2020 strategic plan includes the Carolinian Forest, a space where the “free-ranging plants and animals that make their home in the Rouge River valley make their presence felt to all Zoo visitors.”
Located in Carolinian Forest sitting amongst the trees along the ridgeline overlooking the Rouge Valley will be the “Raven’s Roost”, a year-round family and small-group ‘glamping’ retreat where visitors can “gather to relax and learn more about the dynamics of the surrounding natural environment”.
‘Raven’s Roost’will feature luxury treetop cabins that visitors can rent, featuring sweeping views over the valley, offering a ‘unique, Canadian Carolinian forest canopy experience’.
There will also be a group dining area, where guests can enjoy meals and gather after enjoying the experience of going behind the scenes to meet the animals.
To maintain and protect the Carolinian Forest, an accessible boardwalk will be built ‘on strategically-placed pilings’ winding its way gently through the trees without disturbing the forest floor.
The Zoo also has plans for new outdoor activities, including the Eco-adventure tree-top trekking tour and zip line, which would take Zoo guests deeper into the Rouge Valley.
While this massive development is exciting in theory, the Zoo’s Phasing Plan and Cost Summary say development of the projects would be completed in four major phases, with the completion date projected for 2032.
Meaning, we’ve got 14 long years ahead of us, but the wait might actually be worth it.