Friends celebrate High Park Zoo’s 120th year

High Park Zoo celebrates its 120th anniversary


September 8, 2013

Bloor West Villager

ByLisa Rainford


Unbeknownst to the Friends of High Park Zoo, the popular tourist spot was about to reach a milestone birthday. This year, the zoo is celebrating its 120th anniversary.B bWe were putting dates together and realized, wow, we’ve been here 120 years,b said Friends of High Park Zoo spokesperson Chris Diceman.

In recognition of the zoo’s 120th, its bFriendsb have launched an awareness and fundraising campaign called b120 Years of High Park Zoo.b The initiative will not only celebrate the longevity and legacy of High Park Zoo b one of the oldest zoos in North America where admission is free b it will seek support from the thousands of visitors each year to ensure the zoo remains open for another 120 years.

Operating funds were provided by the City of Toronto through two world wars and the Great Depression in addition to all the ups and downs of the last half century, according to the group. It wasn’t until last year that the city halted funding to the zoo citing budget constraints. That’s when citizens rallied and the Friends of High Park Zoo formed to raise funds to keep the zoo open and operating.

A successful Honey Family Foundation matching initiative brought in $103,387 since January. With subsequent funding raised, the aim of 120 Years of High Park Zoo is to collect $120,000 towards the $228,000 needed for the zoo’s continued operations and enhancement.b(The zoo, said Diceman, has gone through a brapid development. From crisis to stability mode.b

bWebre trying to build the foundation for the Friends of High Park Zoo so webre able to fund the zoo going forward,b he said. “Webre trying to get visitors to sign our petition so the city does restore funding to the zoo.”

The group has further activities and events planned, which it will announce in the coming weeks.

“Thank you once again to the Honey Family Foundation for their $50,000 match for 2013,b said Parkdale-High Park Councillor Sarah Doucette in a statement. bWith the support of visitors from Toronto and beyond we reached, in fact surpassed, that goal. With restored funding, any extra funds that Friends of High Park Zoo has raised will then be used to enhance the zoo.”

Supporting the zoo has become much more convenient for visitors since two Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation Donation Stations were installed, one outside the llama pen and the other outside of the Grenadier Cafe. Like parking machines, the donation stations accept cash or credit cards and immediately issue a printed voucher that can be redeemed for a charitable tax receipt for donations of more than $10.


The zoo is open every day from 7 a.m. until dusk with the llama pen open on weekends and statutory holidays allowing visitors to feed and pet the llamas from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from March until the end of October.

Established in 1893 for deer, the zoo currently boasts 11 paddocks where species from around the world, including bison, llamas, peacocks, reindeer, highland cattle, wallabies, emus and sheep live. As many as 250,000 people visit annually.

Friends of High Park Zoo is a registered not-for-profit corporation created expressly to generate support for High Park Zoo. It accepts donations directly and through Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation, a registered charity.

Donations can be made through Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation online, on site or by mail. Visit

cheques can be made payable to Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation (memo: High Park Zoo) and mailed to:

Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation b High Park Zoo, 157 Adelaide St. W. Suite 123, Toronto, ON, M5H 4E7.

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