For the pure downtowners, it takes a lot to coax them north of Bloor, nevermind the 401. But with smooth sailing on the major routes, we arrived 30 minutes later and parked (for free) in front of Reptilia Zoo in Vaughan. The only thing that differentiated it from the surrounding big-box stores and mall complexes were the billboard-sized photos of crocodiles and snakes covering its windows. The real-deal – hundreds of different reptiles and amphibians — awaited us inside.
Friendly and knowledgeable staff, frequent theatre shows and feedings kept everyone in the family interested. Must-sees: Canada’s largest crocodiles and biggest King Cobra.
Depending on your tolerance of warmer temperatures and small windowless spaces, you could spend from one-hour to all day. Arriving at opening gave us 45 minutes of almost-empty hallways to race from one exhibit to the next and back again. Not for the claustrophobic – at peak hours it can feel crowded. Nor for the herpeto- and ophidiophobic – but check their website, they have programs for that!
Getting there – Since it’s Vaughan, it’s a commute for most. Driving, get on Hwy 400 North turn off near Canada’s Wonderland. Public transit, it’s accessible but via TTC and YRT (two fares). Plug in your starting points and destination into the TTC and YRT trip planners.
Busy times – summer weekends are typically busiest. You’ll be sure to catch feedings, tours and shows between 11 am and 5 pm. (Quietest windows are between 11 am – 12 pm and 4 pm – 5 pm.)
Food – you can bring your own. There are vending machines on site for drinks and snacks. Zoo pass is good for in and out all day so check out the multitude of restaurants along Rutherford.
Stroller access – yes. Walkway between exhibits can feel narrow, so a carrier might keep you and others happier. Strollers must be parked on the side during feedings.
Potty time – women’s and men’s washrooms in the reception area have change tables.
Beware gift shop – located at the exit and visible from the entrance. Lots of reptiles and insects (even real ones!) plus a solid selection of dinosaurs.