A few weeks ago I received an email asking me if I would like the opportunity to get up close and personal with an elephant at the Bowmanville Zoo. Thinking this is basically a once in a lifetime opportunity I quickly jumped at the chance. Later did I realize, this is an everyday thing at the Bowmanville Zoo.

Underestimating the drive to Bowmanville I left Toronto around 9:45am trying to make it for the 11am bath time of Limba, the zoo’s only elephant. After encountering some traffic on the way, I made it into the zoo and down to the river, where through the fence, I could see Limba lying down getting her bath. I was late, I immediately thought, and started to wonder if I had made this drive into the far outskirts of the GTA for nothing. After peering through for a few minutes trying to catch a glimpse, the rest of the group arrived and we were escorted beyond the public area to meet Limba in one of her favourite spots: the bath.

The zoo keeper gave us a brief history of Limba, mentioning she was the oldest elephant in Canada at 50 years of age. Limba is an Asian elephant which besides African elephants is the only other elephant species. Unlike the male Asian elephants, the females do not bear tusks. The Asian elephant’s population is in decline due to encroachment on their habitat and increased farming of palm oil. While female Asian elephants are typically kept with other elephants, we were told that Limba is afraid of other elephants and relies on human interaction since she was raised by humans.

We were given an opportunity to feed Limba some monkey chow and feel her tough dry leathery skin. She was also quite hairy for a female, though elephants don’t practice many of the same grooming habits that we humans do.

After meeting Limba, we were given a chance to explore the rest of the zoo. What I really liked about the Bowmanville Zoo was how close you can get to some of the animals. Deer, kangaroos, monkeys, wolves and tigers all can be found just a few feet from you at any given time while wandering the zoo.

The food at the zoo was unsuspectingly quite decent too! The Zoo Café menu is a mix of burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches with a couple of dessert options like cookies and funnel cakes. I sampled several items and they were all very tasty and available for a great price!

Expedition Predator is a “ride” where you get on a truck that enters the enclosures of a yak & bison, tiger and the wolves. While the tiger seemed to want to have nothing to do with the tour, the wolves came up to the truck to say hello!

The Animatheatre is where the skills of some of the animals are showcased. With a strong emphasis on the endangerment of many of the animals, this is where you get to see Limba perform some amazing acts, including painting a portrait!

Limba In The Animatheatre

Limba In The Animatheatre

Other highlights of the zoo include the pygmy goats feeding area. I swear these animals would eat all day long if you fed them. The ring tailed lemurs are entertaining to watch, especially the new baby that seems to love annoying all the elders.

Overall, I really enjoyed going to the Bowmanville Zoo because unlike many other zoos you really get such an up close interaction with the animals. Parking is always free, food is cheap and entrance ranges from $14-$21 for kids and adults but varies depending when you go.

If you want to check out the zoo with your child, I also have a special offer for FREE child admission with purchase of an Adult admission. All you have to do is print out the coupon and show it at the zoo on your next visit.

Here are some more pictures from the day:

For more information about the zoo, visit BowmanvilleZoo.com.