8 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Canada

Updated On October 7, 2023

Canada‘s zoos and aquariums adhere to the highest animal care standards.

Additionally, Canada has some of North America’s largest and best-run animal care institutions.

They provide naturalized habitats protected by walls, fences, and moats.

Excellent zoos and aquariums offer clean water and food of sufficient quality, quantity, and variety to meet each animal’s nutritional needs.

Additionally, they provide enough roosting, gathering, sleeping, running, climbing, and basking space to avoid competing with other animals and prevent aggression.

How Does Canada Regulate Its Zoos and Aquariums?

The following laws, agencies, and organizations have authority over or responsibility for the care, housing, and display of animals in zoos, aquariums, and research projects:

Canada Criminal Code

Part XI, sections 445 through 447 of the Canadian criminal code forbids injuring or endangering animals through cruelty, defined as wounding, maiming, poisoning, or killing animals for no reason.

In addition, causing willful harm to service, military, or police animals results in a minimum six-month jail sentence, a $10,000 fine, and 729.5 days in prison.

Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA)

Currently, 25 zoos and aquariums in Canada have CAZA accreditation.

However, CAZA does not issue or revoke exhibitor licenses.

Only provincial or municipal governments have that authority. Established in 1975, CAZA member institutions have helped avert the extinction of the Black-Footed Ferret and the Vancouver Island Marmot.

Canadian Council on Animal Care

As the agency responsible for animal research and care facility quality, CCAC issues Certificates of Good Animal Practice to institutions that demonstrate high-quality animal care.

This includes providing preventive and acute veterinary care, clean water, adequate living spaces, shelter from temperature and weather extremes, enrichment activities, and the ability to retreat from public view. 

Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans

CDFO identifies and eradicates invasive fish species in Canadian territorial waterways.

They also log pertinent details about at-risk fish and marine mammals to create registries and action plans.

They manage Pacific salmon, seals, marine mammals, sharks, skates, and rays.

In addition, CDFO administers the Species at Risk Act (SARA), promoting species diversity and preventing extirpation (localized population failure) or extinction.

Humane Canada

Founded in 1957 as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, Humane Canada recognizes that humans are responsible for wild animals, including protecting their resources and habitats.

Furthermore, society has a moral obligation to avoid animal exploitation, whether for fashion, entertainment, or sport, including trophy hunting or pitting animals against each other.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)

In most cases, enforcement of provincial and municipal animal welfare regulations falls to the officers of the RCMP.

They can seize, remove, transfer custody of, and destroy animals they find in distress, close the facility, revoke the license, and arrest the offenders causing the cruelty.

They do not have to wait to relieve animal suffering.

What Qualities Do the Best Zoos and Aquariums in Canada Share?

Superior-quality zoos and aquariums provide preventive veterinary care such as dentistry, vaccination, and pest control.

Diagnostic equipment is available, in good repair, up-to-date, and conforms with scientific principles.

In addition, these facilities control breeding.

Facilities with successful breeding programs exchange animals, leading to a robust and diverse gene pool.

They only take animals from the wild when they have been seized from an unscrupulous exotic pet dealer, a neglectful or abusive private owner, or a closed facility.

Excellent  Zoos and Aquariums in Canada

Aquarium du Québec

This aquarium displays polar bears, walruses, jellyfish, stingrays, seahorses, sea urchins, and starfish.

Visitors will also see harbor seals, raptors, Greenland sharks, whales, eels, and giant squid.

You may pack your lunch or go to L’Aqua Bistro in the Atrium. Buy a BeaverTail(R) — a flat oval doughnut dipped in cinnamon and sugar — hit L’Espace BBQ in the wetland area or L’ Alizé for their delicious salads.

  • 1675 Av. des Hôtels, Québec, QC G1W 4S3, Canada
  • Trained guide dogs must wear working gear identifying them as service dogs. No other animals are permitted.
  • Adults 18 to 64 admission: $22, senior citizens: $20. Children ages 3 through 17: $11. Kids under 3 are FREE.
  • Buy tickets online. Otherwise, you must wait for others to leave before entering.
  • The aquarium is wheelchair accessible. However, some inclines require extra strength to navigate independently.

Assiniboine Park Zoo

The zoo features over 150 species on 80 acres in Assiniboine Park.

It holds three accreditations: the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums, and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, making this a world-class facility.

Visit our polar bears, Arctic foxes, musk oxen, reindeer, and snowy owls in the Journey to Churchill sector.

Head to Toucan Ridge to visit the aviary, where Monk parakeets, Inca Terns, Sulpher-crested Cockatoos, and Sun Conures live.

You’ll also find the ocelots, Patagonian maras, and Goeldi’s monkeys there.

Visit the Grasslands and Boreal sector to view cougars, lynxes, red foxes and grey wolves, elk, and bald eagles.

The “Animals of Asia” sector includes Amur tigers, snow leopards, white-handed gibbons, camels, yaks, Sichuan takins, Turkmenian Markhor, and Stellar’s sea eagle.

At the Kinsmen Discovery Centre, you’ll see the multihued Prevost’s squirrel, a colony of meerkats, White’s tree frogs, Taveta golden weavers, and Paradise tanagers.

  • 2595 Roblin Boulevard, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3P 2N7.
  • Zoo Admission Adults 18 to 59: $22.50, seniors 60 and older: $19.55, Children 3 to 17 years: $12.65
  • Students 18 and older with a valid student ID: $19.55

BC Wildlife Park

Housing nearly 200 animals representing 65 species on 106 acres donated in perpetuity as a wildlife park, BCWP forges connections between the Kamloops community and the park’s animals.

The park has CAZA and AZAC accreditations and serves as a rehabilitation hub for injured and orphaned creatures.

  • 9077 Dallas Dr., Kamloops, BC, V2C 6V1.
  • Adult admission: CA $17.45. Seniors: CA $15.45, Children: CA $13.45.
  • Activities: the Discovery Center Reptile House, a playground and splash park, the Home Hardware Family Farm, bird of prey flight demonstrations, a wheelchair-accessible train, animal encounters, and feeding talks.

Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo

Founded in 1929 and accredited by AZA and WAZA, Calgary Zoo sits on 125 acres and serves 4400 animals representing 118 species.

Play at the insect-themed Brawn Family Foundation Bugtopia, ride the wildlife carousel in the Calgary Co-op Kids Zone, crawl through tunnels and mazes in the Kinsmen Zooventure playground, dig up a dinosaur, and ride the electric train.

Camel Canteen and Kitamba Cafe provide vegan menu options.

Penguin Cafe and Safari Snacks stay open year-round.

  • 210 St. George‘s Drive NE, Calgary, AB.
  • Adult admission (16 to 59): $29.95. Seniors (60+): $27.95. Children (3 to 15): $19.95

The Fluvarium

Providing nine observation windows through which to view the surface and bed of the Rennie River, the Fluvarium interpretation stream tank was intended to teach the importance of protecting the watershed.

Although it opened to the public in November 1990, Anne, Princess Royal performed the official opening on July 2, 1991.

See fish and amphibians from Newfoundland and Labrador, feed the ducks, and view interactive stream displays.

Then, head outside to explore the banks of the Rennie River and Quidi Vidi Lake.

  • 5 Nagle’s Place, St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada A1B 2Z2
  • ASL and other language interpretation services are available on request.
  • Adult admission: $8.00, Seniors: $6.00, Students: $6.00, Children under 14: $5.00
  • Preschoolers under 3: FREE
  • Family Day Pass for two adults and two children: $25.00

Little Ray’s Nature Centers

Although Little Ray’s Nature Center has four locations, the public can only visit three: Hamilton, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada; and Syracuse, New York, USA.

Unfortunately, the center in Ottawa serves as a designated animal rescue and only provides private tours.

All locations have CAZA accreditation.

  • Little Ray’s, Edmonton: West Edmonton Mall, Entrance #2, 8882 170 St NW, Edmonton, AB T5T 4J2, Canada.
  • Hamilton: 869 Barton St. E. Hamilton, L8L3B4.
  • Syracuse, NY, USA, inside The Destiny Mall, 9090 Carousel Center, Syracuse, NY, USA
  • Ottawa Center: 2781 Colonial Road, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
  • Hamilton adult admission: $19.50+tax, child (12 and under): $14.50+tax. Kids 2 and under are FREE!
  • Edmonton adult admission: $14.50. Seniors/Veterans: $12.00. Kids 3 to 10: $12.50. Kids 2 and under are free!
  • Syracuse adult admission: $16.00, Kids 3 to 16: $12.50.

Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo

At Saskatchewan’s only CAZA-accredited zoo, ride the train, the 65-foot Ferris Wheel, or the carousel at Nutrien Playland in Kinsmen Park.

Ride tickets cost  $2.50 or $25.00 for a 12-ticket Play Pack.

The children’s playground features sand and water play, climbing areas, and slides.

Animals include 37 species.

For example, visitors can tour the Affinity Learning Center, housing amphibians and reptiles.

In addition, the zoo welcomes donations from its Amazon Wish List.

Visitors may purchase season passes, form corporate partnerships, and make cash donations, bequests, and gift shop purchases.

  • 1903 Forestry Farm Park, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
  • Admission from November 1 to March 31: donation only.
  • Zoo Admissions April 1 to October 31: Adults 19 and older: $15.35. Youth 6 to 18 $9.20. Five and under FREE.

Toronto Zoo

As of 2019, the zoo houses 4867 animals, representing 427 species on 710 acres.

In addition, the Blanding’s Turtle Head Start Program releases the threatened species, Blanding’s Turtle, back into the Rouge Valley every year.

Donations support habitat construction; new arrival needs; Toronto Zoo’s Species Recovery, Conservation Breeding, and Reintroduction Program, and the Wildling Endangered Species Preservation Fund.

  • 2000 Meadowvale Road, Toronto, Ontario M1B 5K7.
  • Adult admission, 13 to 64: $24.20. Seniors age 65+: $19.35. Children 3 to 12: $15.50, Under 3 FREE.

8 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Canada – Summary Table

Zoos & AquariumsAddress
Aquarium du Québec1675 Av. des Hôtels, Québec, QC G1W 4S3, Canada
Assiniboine Park Zoo2595 Roblin Boulevard, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3P 2N7.
BC Wildlife Park077 Dallas Dr., Kamloops, BC, V2C 6V1.
Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo210 St. George's Drive NE, Calgary, AB.
The Fluvarium5 Nagle's Place, St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada A1B 2Z2
Little Ray's Nature CentersWest Edmonton Mall, Entrance #2, 8882 170 St NW, Edmonton, AB T5T 4J2, Canada
Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo1903 Forestry Farm Park, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Toronto Zoo2000 Meadowvale Road, Toronto, Ontario M1B 5K7.

Canada Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Canada Safety Review

Safety Index:

Frequently Asked Questions

What law regulates animal treatment in Canada?

Part XI, sections 445 through 447 of the Canadian criminal code forbids injuring or endangering animals through cruelty.

Who enforces most cruelty laws in Canada?

The RCMP can seize, remove, transfer custody of, and destroy animals in distress, close the facility, revoke the license, and arrest the offenders causing the cruelty.

Which zoo serves the most animals every year?

As of 2019, the Toronto Zoo houses 4867 animals, representing 427 species on 710 acres.

Name three successes of Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums policies.

The Black-Footed Ferret, Vancouver Island Marmot, and Blanding’s Turtles.

Which zoo has a 65-foot-tall Ferris Wheel?

Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo.

Where will you be able to request ASL and other language translation services?

The Fluvarium.

What will you find at the Fluvarium?

The Fluvarium features nine observation windows through which to view the surface and bed of the Rennie River.

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