Situated on 710 custom-built acres in the Rouge River watershed, the Toronto Zoo is Canada’s largest zoo, attracting around 1.3 million visitors each year. And it’s in store for an upgrade.

A development application currently under City review seeks to revitalize the front entrance of the zoo at 200 Meadowvale Road. More specifically, new entry gate turnstiles and security perimeter fencing have been proposed.

As well, the proposal calls for the creation of a conservation campus to accommodate a number of new facilities, including a two-storey, 750-sq.-m academic building, comprised of wet and dry labs, teaching labs, teaching support space, washrooms, and storage, and a one-storey, 450-sq.-m guest services building, which will contain washrooms, retail, security, and administrative spaces.

A new habitat for river otters is also planned.

The proposed components are expected to jointly add 3,164 sq. m of gross floor area to the Toronto Zoo. An additional 8,653 sq. m of new landscaping and 1,010 sq. m of new paved area are specified in the proposal.

Architectural drawings prepared by Zeidler Architecture show both the one- and two-storey facilities clad in alternating ribbons of pre-cast concrete and glass. The new academic building, which will be topped with solar panels, is situated at the north end of the subject site. The new guest services building, which will accommodate an outdoor amenity area, and adjoining animal habitat are slated for the centre of the site. The drawings also show a new plaza and courtyard abutting an existing building to the south of the site.

The Toronto Zoo is owned and operated by the City of Toronto, and as such, the Site Plan Approval stage of the proposal is required to adhere to the Toronto Green Standard (TGS) v4, which sets standards for air quality, energy emissions, and resilience, water quality and efficiency, ecology and biodiversity, and waste reduction. Requirements under TGS v4 will remain in effect until May 2025.

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