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Toronto Zoo Toronto Zoo Developments 2018

Discussion in 'Canada' started by TZFan, 28 Dec 2017.

  1. TZFan

    TZFan Well-Known Member

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    New year so time for a new thread.

    Big things to look forward to in 2018 in terms of developments...

    New CEO
    Ground breaking on the outdoor orang exhibit.
    Return of the Aldabra tortoises.
    The new Eco tour
    Return of Amur tigers
    Maybe the expansion of the jaguar exhibit into the spider monkey exhibit which was rumored to have been planned for 2017.

    I can't think of any other big things we know about yet but I can't wait to see what else the new year has in store.
     
  2. Hyak_II

    Hyak_II Well-Known Member

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    It's not 2018 yet
     
  3. TZFan

    TZFan Well-Known Member

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    I know. Just thought I'd get the thread going since I happened to have free time and thought about what was coming to the zoo next year to look forward to. 2018 is only three days away.
     
  4. Meaghan Edwards

    Meaghan Edwards Well-Known Member

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    Looking forward to all these changes. When I was visiting on Christmas eve the Indo pavillion was looking really tired (the Christmas decor made it a bit more colourful looking) so I'm looking forward to seeing that being redone; also glad to see the tortoises coming back!
     
  5. cypher

    cypher Well-Known Member

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    I gotta say, I'm most excited about the return of the Amur Tigers and the outdoor Orangutan exhibit.
     
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  6. Palorchestes

    Palorchestes Active Member

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    I hope they update the Amur exhibit a bit. It always seemed kinda small and unsafe. Like I've seen people hold their kids on the railing before.
     
  7. TZFan

    TZFan Well-Known Member

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    Indo Malaya isn't getting a reno any time soon. The only real work that will be done inside at this point is building the way that they will transport the orangs from their holding inside to the outdoor exhibit. There is a lot of other projects that will get attention first. Realistically it probably wont be touched for a good 5-10 years, although it could desperately do with an update.

    I think the modifications to the panda exhibit to accommodate for the Amurs will be slight. Remove climbing structures, put in a few tiger friendly enrichment items, maybe a little safety upgrade. For the most part a lot of the work was included in the exhibit to begin with since the exhibit was initially designed for the Amurs and just slightly modified for pandas. And while the second exhibit is definitely small keepers can always allow the tiger in that exhibit to have access to both indoor exhibits which allows for more space and flexibility. It is definitely troubling though to see the dangers parents willingly put their kids in when they put them up on rails. The zoo can hope design as many safety features as it can think up but there's just no way to predict all the stupidity humans are capable of.

    Personally I'm most excited about the tortoises. I loved lunches with them as a kid. It's a shame they seem to have ditched the idea for them to get an outdoor exhibit but I'll take my old friends back any way I can get them. I like the Amurs returning but their absence was lessened for me because I could still enjoy Sumatrans. And I am thrilled about the orang exhibit but since its still a whole year and a half nearly away from opening its not my big thing of 2018. It was going to be if it opened in 2018 as originally planned. I still am hoping and praying that Puppe will live to experience the great outdoors once again. Not that I have heard she's in poor health or anything but reality is she is the second oldest Sumatran orang in North America. Time is not her friend.
     
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  8. Meaghan Edwards

    Meaghan Edwards Well-Known Member

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    I'm really happy to see the Tortoises back; as a little girl they were one of my favorite animals. I was amazed at how big they are! Thought it was a shame they didn't make a space for them when they did the renovations.

    I also hope Puppe lives to see the new exhibi.
     
    Last edited: 29 Dec 2017
  9. TZDugong

    TZDugong Well-Known Member

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    Whenever I looked at the Panda exhibit I thought, wow that make such a good exhibit for a carnivore! So I'm happy to hear that the Tigers are being put in there.
     
    Last edited: 29 Dec 2017
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  10. Meaghan Edwards

    Meaghan Edwards Well-Known Member

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    It was never a massive exhibit for the Amurs but it served them well and they seemed content. And raised several litters in it!
     
  11. DevinL

    DevinL Well-Known Member

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    It will be interesting to see how developments proceed at the Toronto Zoo post-pandas.
    I think the Toronto Zoo should concentrate on improving welfare for their animals (orangutans should be the priority), replacing or renovating aging infrastructure (the pavilions need major investments), condensing the visitor experience, and creating more engaging visitor experiences.
     
  12. TZFan

    TZFan Well-Known Member

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    DevinL those plans are all in the works just at different times. Top priority is the orangs. The pavilions (Indo Malaya and the Americas... and wavering opinions on Australiasia) are all in the works but it'll take time. Moving the Canadian species up to unused space and parts of Euraisa are on the list as well. Those are the biggies but it'll probably take 20 years or more.
     
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  13. DevinL

    DevinL Well-Known Member

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    I'm interested in discussing what impact the giant panda visit will have on future developments at the Toronto Zoo. Is the Toronto Zoo in a better or worse position to finance future developments from revenues and expenses during the pandas visit? Did the successful breeding and care of the pandas improve the perceptions of the community about the Zoo? Will the recent publicity from the pandas make fundraising for Master Plan projects easier? Did the giant pandas make the public more interested in the Toronto Zoo?
    The discrepancy between attendance hopes for the giant pandas and the disappointing reality of attendance the past few years is also interesting. I think there may be some good lessons there about things that don't really work and the need for changing perspectives.

    There is a lot there to discuss and I am still ruminating about it myself, but hopefully my thoughts will help spark more discussion.
    I think the giant pandas were not a catalyst for future development and distracted from the real needs of the facility.
    The decision to exhibit giant pandas was not designed to directly address the four fundamental concerns I have about the Toronto zoo that I mentioned in post #11 on this thread. These concerns aren't uniquely mine and as TZFan mentioned the 2016 Master Plan suggests solutions, although the timeline for implementation is quite long. First off, adding pandas did not improve the welfare of the animals already at the Toronto Zoo. The pandas were more mouths to feed with much more expensive tastes than the other animals. The giant panda exhibit did not improve the infrastructure at the Zoo other than perhaps at the tiger exhibit and some of the additions were probably extraneous to the needs of the tigers. With the bears gone, the visitor experience has not been condensed. Finally, the giant pandas were not displayed in any groundbreaking way that innovated on traditional display methods at the Toronto Zoo, other than the use of web cams in the enclosure. In spring 2018, when the giant pandas leave, the Toronto Zoo will have made no significant progress on these four issues.
    I am skeptical that the publicity from the pandas will translate into momentum for Master Plan fundraising. Even if it does, fundraising would have to be directed to the debt for 2017 created by the strike and the high costs of having the giant pandas. It may also be a harder sell to say that developments will increase attendance after attendance during the giant panda stay fell short of expectations.

    The pandas will be gone later this year, and I think that will allow the Toronto Zoo to cut their losses and move forward progressively. I think the struggles to attract visitors during the giant pandas stay illustrates the shifting expectations of zoo visitors. Having mega-charismatic animals like giant pandas, and caring for them well, is not enough to attract the public enough to stay relevant. You have to exhibit them in a meaningful and compelling way and create complete visitor experiences.
     
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  14. TZFan

    TZFan Well-Known Member

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    I would agree with you DevinL that the pandas really weren't the shot in the arm the zoo needed. They were a good draw the first year and during the first year of the cubs lives. They did give the zoo a higher profile and drew in guests. It was some good PR much needed after the elephant debacle. But did the pandas really do much more then a few more guests for two years and create some good PR? No not really.

    They were costly. Not only in their loan fee paid to China but in cost of food, dedicated keepers and reproduction costs. I can't remember the math of it all but it was costing the zoo a couple million a year to keep them. Thankfully the exhibit was purpose built for Amurs with minor modifications for panda helping to reduce costs. Lets just say it cost $2 million a year to keep them. I remember the projections for the orang outdoor cost was $2-3 million at one point. In a year or two of panda keeping the orangs would have had their outdoor exhibit, greatly improving their lives and at the same time proving to be a big draw for the zoo. People would flock to see the new outdoor exhibit. Multiple the pandas cost by 5 years and that would roughly mean $10 million that could have been spent elsewhere. Maybe something innovative could have been built in Eurasia with that. They might have had a good start on the Canadian Wilderness. The health center could have been completed sooner improving the care of all.

    Panda mathematics are usually a loosing deal. There is the boom in business during year one and any time a new cub is born but usually they cost more than they make. It's probably been a little more of a loss for Toronto given the northern location. San Diego has good weather year round. Winters in Atlanta aren't bad either. Even Memphis and Washington don't have it as bad. Less time in the year for Toronto to pick up tourists and keep locals coming.

    The pandas were nice. The cubs were cute. It was nice to have them but I wont miss them and I don't think at the end of the day the zoo will miss them that much either. Toronto would have been wiser probably inviting summer exhibits. Borrow some koalas from San Diego for the summer. Actually renovate Australiasia and make it a big deal. Dont take away the kangaroo walk about. Do a large scale reno... Last major one was Tundra Trek in 2009 and the African Rainforest remodel (which was half the building not the whole thing) around then too. Even unveil a new group of species to the zoo and make sure they have babies. Eurasia was a waste. It opened at the wrong time and even the following spring it had no new big ticket babies to draw people in. Yes they had a nice new snow leopard exhibit and the Eagle owl and Stellar sea eagles where new but they weren't big draws. Bringing back Japanese macaques, introducing takin, introduce some other new species (I can't be bothered to think of options this second), have a cool visitor experience there and reopen the zoomobile station all could have been a big boost. Money used on the pandas could have helped there.
     
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  15. GorillaFan15

    GorillaFan15 Well-Known Member

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    Cant wait to see the outdoor orang enclosure break ground in the spring. I really do hope the zoo goes all out for this enclosure. My main wish is to have a nice unobstructed view, no thick mesh, no metal poles or ugly fencing, a moat would be great, one can dream. I also hope that the exhibit is very naturalistic, many orangutan exhibits have metal poles, ropes, etc. This could be the chance for the zoo to create a truly great and realistic enclosure. The public and the animals deserve it, especially after the long wait.
     
  16. DevinL

    DevinL Well-Known Member

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    A new outdoor orangutan exhibit could be a good draw for the Toronto Zoo, but only if it is done well. Perhaps the new budget will be larger, but $2M-$3M is not much for an orangutan exhibit in North America. Land of Lemurs cost $8M at the Calgary Zoo, although the exhibit included an exhibit/holding building. It might be possible to build a great outdoor orangutan exhibit in Toronto for $2-3M, but you would have to incorporate existing features in a creative manner.

    As far as projects after that go, I would like to see them concentrate next on major renovations to the Indomalaya Pavilion. The building itself needs renovations, as do the exhibits inside. The Americas Pavilion and the Mayan temple ruins outdoor exhibits also need major changes. I would not recommend expanding the jaguar exhibit into the current spider monkey exhibit this year. It would be better to rebuild new exhibits attached to the Americas Pavilion. Charismatic animals, like jaguars, should be exhibited close to the pavilions where visitor activity is higher and where it's easier to find them.
     
    Last edited: 4 Jan 2018
  17. TZFan

    TZFan Well-Known Member

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    I do believe the orang exhibits budget has been upgraded to $5-6 million. The initial projection I mentioned was posed several years ago around the time the pandas arrived or were newer. I highly doubt we will get the naturalistic innovative exhibit we are all hoping for. Toronto often misses the mark on a truly great exhibit. Last one I would call a great exhibit would be the gorilla exhibit. All of the African pavilion is pretty great but the exhibit is special. Very naturalistic. Big. Impressive. Walls have good murals. A real show piece for the zoo. The day room and outdoor exhibits are still eye sores but the main exhibit is beautiful. I'd love to see the equivalent built for the orangs outside but I think in the end we will still see simple metal poles and climbing structures. A good viewing space is possible over a moat. The orangs don't require a huge moat since they cannot swim. I do think we will see a lot of mesh and glass too. I'm sad that they are no longer considering doing an O line. I think that an O line would have added that wow factor even to an exhibit that would otherwise be rather plain.
     
    Last edited: 4 Jan 2018
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  18. TZDugong

    TZDugong Well-Known Member

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    Still any outside Orang exhibit is a welcome addition to the zoo.
     
  19. Palorchestes

    Palorchestes Active Member

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    I must agree with TZFan, our hopes for a naturalistic outdoor orangutan exhibit are likely in vain. Just look at the new snow leopard exhibit (one of our newest additions). Metal poles and mesh for days on that one. This is one of my biggest problems with the zoo. So many exhibits have ugly metal parts in plain site so often. Maybe its because I almost exclusively go to the zoo in the winter/fall when there is no green vegetation?
     
  20. TZFan

    TZFan Well-Known Member

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    There is definitely a lot of concrete and metal in the zoo. Most other zoos try to make the exhibits look as natural as possible and to their utmost in design to allow the guests to feel immersed in a natural setting while still maintaining safety for both guest and animals. I think Toronto often plans to do more but budgets always get in the way.

    I think the snow leopard exhibit for instance would seem greatly improved if the metal supports for the mesh were made to look like trees. Towering tall pines. They really just need a good paint job to make them look textured and maybe some metal branches just too look like a tree. Some branches could be brought out and serve as platforms for resting. One could ignore the mesh a little better if those poles weren't so unnatural looking.

    Greenery helps in some cases but not all the time. A little more money spent hiding what is necessary would go a long way. I'm sure staff and designers would love more money to do things right but at the end of the day we must be happy with any improvements even if they are not beautiful and natural. Our pleasure as spectators is nice but in the end if the quality of life is better for the animals well that's more important. If several thousand dollars for aesthetics would better be used on enrichment then so be it.
     
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