The Toronto Zoo Master Plan provides a comprehensive blueprint for the evolution of the 287-hectare site. Located in the east end of the Greater Toronto Area, it will create an animal-friendly expansive new vision of what a zoo can be. Over the next 20 years, the Toronto Zoo will develop into a completely different kind of animal-human interaction and experience. 

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An orange seating area that has a circular design showing pictures of bears in it at the zoo

Why the change? People are increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of zoos. They are weighed down by the history of animals in cages and less than nature-friendly practices. Therefore, the Toronto Zoo is shifting toward more of a animal rescue and human education approach. The new layout allows people to interact with animals in a new ways. On the other hand, it gives animals refreshed enclosures for a healthier lifestyle.

Related: Designing sustainable habitats at the San Diego Zoo

An outside pavilion where people are scattered around

The zoo worked with Mandaworks, a design studio engaged in the fields of landscape architecture, urban design and comprehensive planning. For the Toronto Zoo project, Mandaworks is rethinking what it means for animals and humans to interact in zoo environments. It’s a drastic departure from historical zoos.

A directory pole at the Toronto Zoo

As a result, the new Toronto Zoo Master Plan rearranged how the land on the zoo site served the growing animal population. There is an animal rescue sanctuary near conservation science buildings on the north side of the site. To the northeast, wilderness and landscape built to mimic Eurasia’s climate are paired with an Australasia climate zone. To the south, there is a splash zone and discovery area for kids.

The inside of a conservatory there is a flying red bird and a fencing where people are standing behind

Also, a core woods have been retained in the center of the property. There is a forage farm on the west surrounded by natural areas. On the south side is an African savannah and Indo-Malaya to round out the micro-climates and enclosures created for the zoo.

The inside of a pavilion with glass ceilings and people walking along the pathway

Lastly, with the expansive, there are new programs, buildings and experiences. In every season, there will be different programming available to interact with the exhibits and resident animals.

+ Mandaworks

Images via Mandaworks