baby turtle at Toronto Zoo

Toronto Zoo could utilize Google Maps to create social distancing family bubbles for visitors

The Toronto Zoo and Ripley’s Aquarium are two attractions in the city that might use Google Maps to create social-distancing family bubbles around customers according to a new report on reopening strategies from Canadian Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA). 

“As governments across Canada begin to evaluate what can be opened and under what conditions, Canada’s 30 accredited zoos and aquariums are eager to share how they are prepared to re-open and respect health officials’ guidelines,” said Jim Facette, executive director of the national organization. 

CAZA is described as the “voice of zoos and aquariums in Canada.” In addition to the Toronto Zoo, Ripley’s Aquarium is also an accredited member.

According to a press release, the industry met last week for a planning session and to share information, which was then forwarded in a letter to “all ministers responsible for tourism.”

Other procedures that the group expects to be in place upon reopening include the following:

  • one-way directional pathways
  • hand sanitizers through the park
  • use of masks by staff and visitors where necessary
  • timed ticketing
  • on-line payment and limited use of cash

Facette added that the 30 accredited zoos and aquariums in Canada will also “close off areas, large food spaces, planned camps, and other similar activities as they strive to welcome visitors back knowing they have taken necessary health precautions.”

Both the Toronto Zoo and the Ripley’s Aquarium are currently closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ripley’s has installed a live camera at its Rainbow Reef area for visitors to get a taste of the facility during the closure. 

Meanwhile, although the Toronto Zoo has been closed since March, there is no shortage of activity amongst the facility’s 5,000 animals. Two days ago, the Zoo announced the birth of a baby Madagascar spider tortoise. The first hatching of a Madagascar spider tortoise at the Toronto Zoo (pictured above).

“The Toronto Zoo is proud to support efforts to save and protect turtles and tortoises around the world as a member of the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA),” said Dr. Andrew Lentini, senior director wildlife and science at the zoo. “Every year thousands of endangered Madagascar tortoises are illegally collected by poachers and destined for either the butcher block or Asian pet trade. Many are confiscated by Malagasy authorities and are placed for rehabilitation and treatment before being reintroduced into the wild or placed in long-term conservation breeding programs like those in accredited zoos like Toronto Zoo.”

To help offset revenue losses from admissions and parking, the Toronto Zoo has also initiated a fundraising drive to help feed the animals, which has raised more than $500,000.

Article exclusive to TRNTO