Back to articles Up close and personal with the animals at Bowmanville Zoo

Categories: Family Fun

The Bowmanville Zoo is Canada's Oldest Private Zoo, established in 1919. They are the original children's zoo and home to many famous Hollywood Celebrity Animals. Visit them amidst 42 scenic acres of untamed, natural parkland. You cannot get any closer!

I had the pleasure of taking my kids with a few of their friends to the Bowmanville Zoo this summer. We had a fabulous day feeding the animals, splashing around, enjoying the rides and learning about conservation efforts. Unfortunately one of the main attractions, Expedition Predator was not open the day we went which was quite disappointing. But there was still plenty to do and see.

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Feeding the animals

One of the main highlights of Bowmanville Zoo is that the kids have the opportunity to hand feed so many of the animals. You can purchase animal feed at the front gate for just a few dollars a bag. From goats to llamas to deer and alpacas, it's a unique experience to be able to touch and feed these amazing creatures.

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Do be aware, though, that some of the animals can get a little aggressive so if your child is at all tentative, stay close or keep them at arm's length from the animals. My daughter was enjoying feeding one of the small West African Pigmy goats and lovingly bent over to give it a hug...when it firmly butted her with its horns, obviously she'd gotten a bit TOO close! She wasn't hurt at all but it reminded her that these animals are not house pets and to be more careful when interacting with them.

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There's plenty of space at the zoo for the kids to climb on rocks and run around. But if you want the kids to burn off a bit more energy, take them to the wooden playground for even more fun!

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Elephant Rides

Limba, the zoo's popular 50 year old Asian elephant offers rides several times a day. The cost is an additional fee of $6 per child, but well worth the look of amazement on the kids' faces. Apparently Limba weighs 8000 lbs, so if she gives a ride to a family of four its like you carrying a backpack. She loves giving rides since it means she gets to spend time with her trainers.

Camel rides are also available at the same price.

Bowmanville Zoo splashpad

Splash Bash

There's nothing like a splash pad to help cool the kids down on a hot summer's day. Be sure to bring your bathing suits and towels so you can enjoy the Splash Bash. There are shaded seats for the parents too. Open 11am-5pm daily.



We all really enjoyed the wolves at Bowmanville Zoo. They were quite active the day we were there which was a treat. We watched and listened as this Arctic Wolf howled and howled...the kids all around started howling back to him and I think he responded in kind!

There's also a black North American Timber Wolf who enjoyed running up and down the length of his enclosure, with my son who ran beside him on the other side of the fence. Great exercise for both of them and now my son can honestly claim that he has run with the wolves!

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Bowmanville Zoo has several shows daily in their Animatheatre. You will get to meet a few of the animals up close and witness some of their unique talents (Limba, the elephant events paints portraits!). We were happy to learn more about some of the zoo's animals and were impressed with the commitment the trainers have to conservation. The show helps educate visitors about the issues that their animals are facing in the world today.

For show times, please visit their website.



Funland is a fabulous idea for the kids to enjoy several midway rides at the zoo. Unfortunately there are only three rides and one of them (the carousel) was partially dismantled and out of action. The other two rides were only being run one a time so we had to make two separate trips to this area of the zoo in order for the kids to enjoy both rides.

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The rides are clearly designed for children slightly smaller and younger than my kids (age 8 and 10), but they still had a blast twirling around and riding the boats!


Affordable Family Fun!

Click here to print a FREE Kid Pass for the Bowmanville Zoo.

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All in all, we had a fabulous day at the Bowmanville Zoo. We got to see a wide variety of animals, from goats to lions and elephants to lemurs (there are two new giraffes but sadly they were still under quarantine when we were there so we only got a glimpse of them from afar). This zoo is perfect for toddlers, preschoolers and children of all ages, although I would say it is mainly geared for those around ages 2-8. Parking is free and the zoo is easy to find (click here for directions). The zoo is open until Thanksgiving (only weekends in October), for hours and showtimes, click here.