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High Park Zoo capybara babies named after Rush’s Alex, Geddy and Neil

Friends of High Park Zoo contest drew more than 44,000 votes

It’s official. It’s Alex, Geddy and Neil, Toronto’s most-famous and popular capybara babies.

Friends of High Park Zoo just announced the winning capy-pup names at a party at the capybaras’ pen at the zoo from which their parents, Bonnie and Clyde, escaped a year ago to much public and media attention.

More than 32,000 votes were cast in an online contest by the Friends to name the High Park Zoo capy-babies after Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart, members of the iconic Canadian band, Rush.

“We got more than 44,000 votes from people all over the world,” said John Formosa, Friends of High Park Zoo board chair. “It was really quite surprising and bodes well for interest in the always-free High Park Zoo.”

The winning names turned out to be “a real see-saw battle,” Formosa said, between Rush fans and fans of the Rice Krispies’ trio, Snap, Crackle and Pop. The Krispies’ names came in first runner-up with more than 9,000 votes.

Mocha, Chino and Latte closed out the other popular names with 704 votes.

Bonnie and Clyde spent weeks on the lam last year after escaping from the west-end zoo last May.

Born on Feb. 23, their new offspring are their first-born.

Not long ago, a threat hung over more than the capybaras at High Park Zoo.

The future of the zoo itself was in question.

In 2012, Friends of High Park Zoo formed to raise funds necessary to keep the zoo open after the city threatened its closure in the wake of budget cuts for the 2012 and 2013 operating years.

“I gave a donation when the zoo was going to close. It was the first time I’d been there since I first went when I was less than six months old,” Formosa said.

That same year, the Honey Family Foundation committed to a three-year matching donation program, which has helped to raise more than $380,000 to date.

Since, Friends has raised “a couple million dollars” for High Park Zoo, Formosa said, and has more than 400 active volunteers.

High Park Zoo is the oldest zoo in Canada, the third-oldest zoo in North America, and in need of capital improvements, Formosa said.

Friends conceived a master plan for the High Park Zoo to guide future improvements, including the llama pen, the capybara pen, the aviary and other animal pens and visitor areas.

The first phase of capital improvements is planned to include construction of washrooms, a new storm water management system, new benches and the planting of more than 100 trees and green beds in the zoo pen areas, Formosa said.

Phases two and three will enhance the zoo pens, which are century-old log structures, he added.

The zoo’s 11 paddocks are home to bison, llamas, peacocks, reindeer, highland cattle, emus and sheep.

It attracts more than 700,000 visitors annually.

High Park Zoo is open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk with free admission.

Visit www.highparkzoo.ca/participate to donate to High Park Zoo. All donations of $10 or more made to the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation directed to High Park Zoo receive a tax receipt.

Original article by Inside Toronto

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