Activities

Best zoos and aquariums across Canada

From land to sea, gather the family and explore the best wildlife and marine life that Canada has to offer.

By Amy Valm

Best zoos and aquariums across Canada

Best zoos and aquariums across Canada

BC: BC Wildlife Centre

This mountainous nature reserve has a charming, old-world feel. There’s a replica C.P. Huntington steam locomotive, which winds along a one-kilometre track by the park’s 65 species (including coyotes, grey wolves, moose, cougars and porcupines). And the new Home Hardware Corral, which looks like a century-old farmstead, allows kids to pet llamas, mini donkeys and guinea pigs. The innovative Nature Exchange is a bit like the Antiques Roadshow for outdoor enthusiasts: Young (and old) collectors of shells, rocks and leaves bring in their treasures, and experts explain what it is and where it comes from. Open year-round.

Admission starts at $11; kids two and younger get in free. 
9077 Dallas Dr., Kamloops. 250-573-3242

Get more information at bczoo.org

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Zootography.com

British Columbia: Greater Vancouver Zoo

It’s easy to get the lay of the land at this 120-acre park. Take a 20-minute train ride ($5; free for kids younger than two) for a tour of the grounds, and a special drive-through policy allows people with mobility issues to cruise around the zoo in the comfort of their own minivan. There are lots of attractions (including 600 animals such as baboons, chinchillas and flamingos), as well as daily falconry demonstrations by master trainer Gary Worley. He has more than 40 years of experience doing bird shows, including a presentation for Queen Elizabeth. In the spring and summer, you can check out the lunchtime lion and tiger feedings, when a zookeeper gives the cats their raw meat rations. New this year: an animal care facility for infirmed, quarantined creatures.

Open year-round. Admission starts at $16; kids two and younger get in free.

5048 264 St., Aldergrove. 604-856-6825

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: TourismSurrey.com

British Columbia: Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

Although it only opened in 2009, this Salish sea centre is already one of Vancouver Island’s top attractions (more than 100,000 people visited in the first seven months alone). It’s an especially engaging draw for families: Tot Tuesdays offers crafts and story circles for preschoolers. Alternatively, Sea-Shirt Sundays lets youngsters design and decorate their own Ts. For older kids, the behind-the-scenes tour allows a backstage look at the aquarium’s mechanical rooms, water systems and nurseries. All of the creatures on display – including jellyfish and red octopi – are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest. Special splash pools allow visitors to touch starfish and sea urchins. Open year-round.

Admission starts at $5; kids two and younger get in free.

9811 Seaport Pl., Sidney, BC. 250-665-7511

Get more information at oceandiscovery.ca

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

British Columbia: Vancouver Aquarium

This Vancouver attraction is home to more than 50,000 species from every corner of the globe. The Tropic Zone is where you’ll see an Indo-Pacific reef with sand sharks and sea turtles, while Penguin Point has waddling penguins from Cape Town, South Africa. Kid-friendly programming includes encounter tours, which allow visitors to see inside the sea lion, dolphin and otter habitats. Open year-round.

Admission starts at $14; kids three and younger get in free.

845 Avison Way, Vancouver. 604-659-3474

Get more information at vanaqua.org

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Bcliving.ca

British Columbia: Ucluelet Aquarium

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Ukees.com

Alberta: The Calgary Zoo

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: The Calgary Zoo

Alberta: Discovery Wildlife Park

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Discovery Wildlife Park

Alberta: Edmonton Valley Zoo

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Edmonton.ca

Saskatchewan: Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Saskatchewan Tourism

Manitoba: Assiniboine Park Zoo

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Assiniboine Park Zoo

Ontario: Toronto Zoo

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: iStock photo

Ontario: Indian River Reptile Zoo

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Indian River Reptile Zoo

Ontario: Riverview Park and Zoo

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Riverview Park and Zoo

Ontario: African Lion Safari

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: African Lion Safari

Ontario: Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

Quebec: Aquarium du Québec

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Aquarium du Québec

Quebec: Montreal Biodome

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Bonjourquebec.com

Quebec: Ecomuseum Zoo

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Ecomuseum Zoo

Quebec: Zoo de Granby

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Zoo de Granby

Quebec: Zoo Sauvage de St-Felicien

The world’s coldest, most northern regions are home to many beautiful, unique species. The Zoo Sauvage houses nearly 1,000 of them, including wolverines, musk oxes and woodland caribou from the chilliest areas of Canada, Russia, Japan and Scandinavia. Animals roam free in the Nature Trail Park, and can be seen during an hour-long train tour. A special kids’ area includes a splash park and a petting zoo. For children ages six and up, a night with the caribou includes canoeing, hiking, caribou watching and camping in a tent. Open May to October.

Admission starts at $13.26 for children six to 14; adults, $19.13; kids two and younger get in free.

2230 boul. du Jardin, St-Feu0301licien. 418-679-0543

Get more information at zoosauvage.org

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Bonjourquebec.com

New Brunswick: Magnetic Hill Zoo

Atlantic Canada’s largest animal sanctuary has more than 575 critters, including ring-tailed lemurs, jaguars and a python, in a 40-acre park. During the summer, daily feeding presentations highlight the eating habits of different species. Educational programs have kids covered from ages five to 18. Open year-round.

Admission starts at $5; kids three and younger get in free.

125 Magic Mountain Rd., Moncton. 506-877-7718

Get more information at moncton.ca/zoo

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Magnetic Hill Zoo

New Brunswick: Fundy Discovery Aquarium

This aquarium is exclusively devoted to the marine life of New Brunswick’s famed Bay of Fundy. Interactive touch tanks include starfish, sea cucumbers and rays. Viewing tanks feature sturgeons and rare lobsters. The seal habitat is home to ultra-adorable Loki and Snorkel; watch their daily feedings at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. For children ages two to four, Friday’s Toddler Times include stories, songs and a guided tour of the facilites. Call ahead; visits to the aquarium are by appointment only. Open year-round.

Admission starts at $10; kids three and younger get in free.

Huntsman Marine Science Centre. 1 Lower Campus Rd., St. Andrews. 506-529-1200

Get more information at huntsmanmarine.ca/aquarium

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Tourismnewbrunswick.ca

Nova Scotia: Oaklawn Farm Zoo

The province’s most expansive animal enclosure has the largest collection of big cats (including cougars and leopards) and primates (including macaques and squirrel monkeys) in Eastern Canada. The daily dinner feedings are popular with visitors who get a kick out of watching black bears ravage raw meat. Kids may want to feed corn to critters instead. Open Easter to November.

Admission starts at $3.50; kids two and younger get in free.

1007 Ward Rd., Aylesford. 902-847-9790

Get more information at oaklawnfarmzoo.ca

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto:. Oaklawn Farm Zoo

Newfoundland: Bonne Bay Marine Station

Newfoundland’s incomparable aquatic life is on display at this research facility. Inside, interactive aquarium tours allow kids to shake hands with sea stars and hermit crabs at the popular touch tank. The Family Boat Tour takes visitors down the Bonne Bay fjord to see bald eagles, whales and gorgeous mountain scenery. Open May to September.

Admission starts at $3.25; kids four and younger get in free.

1 Clarkes Lane, Norris Point. 709- 458-2874

Get more information bonnebay.ca

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Bonne Bay Marine Station via Facebook

Newfoundland: Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium

Just celebrating its grand opening, Petty Harbouris the east coast twin of BC’s Ucluelet Aquarium: All of the marine life is caught from, and eventually released back into, the bay surrounding the marine station. Jellyfish, sea stars and anemone are all on display in the mini facility. At just 800 square-feet, it’s manageable for young tots. Open June to October.

Admission starts at $5.

16C Cumberland Cr., St. John’s. 709-330-3474

Get more information at miniaqua.org

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium via Facebook

PEI Stanley Bridge Marine Aquarium

This aquarium features touch tanks with hermit crabs and starfish, as well as locally found shellfish. The Manor of Birds houses one of North America’s largest collections of stuffed, wall-mounted winged creatures. The more than 700 specimens include gannets (black and white seabirds) and bald eagles. They also have Canada’s largest collection of butterflies from around the world to marvel. Open May to October.

Admission starts at $7; kids four and younger get in free.

32 Campbellton Rd., Stanley Bridge. 902-886-3355

Get more information at maritimefamily.ca

Best zoos and aquariums across CanadaPhoto: iStockphoto

Read More: 26 ways to glide through March break 7 tips to help you survive March Break 50 essential winter activities

This article was originally published on Jul 02, 2013
FILED UNDER:
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement