Parks Canada and Toronto Zoo reach agreement to enhance visitor experiences at the Rouge while supporting the Zoo’s endangered species breeding facilities
Nature is central to our identity as Canadians. For millions of Canadians living in the Greater Toronto Area, Rouge National Urban Park puts nature within easy reach.
The Toronto Zoo CEO Dolf DeJong and MP Catherine McKenna announced a landmark agreement regarding the location of the future Rouge National Urban Park education and welcome centre. The government will also continue to support the Zoo’s endangered species breeding facilities.
The future Rouge National Urban Park education and welcome centre, which will be built on the lands currently operated as the Zoo’s overflow parking lot 4, will be a learning and orientation facility where students, visitors, and residents can gather and learn about the Rouge’s incredible natural, cultural, agricultural, and Indigenous heritage, as well as about Parks Canada’s places across the country.
In addition, visitors will be able to access a new five-kilometre trail and two visitor areas as of September 23, 2019. The new family-friendly trail, which includes scenic lookouts and rest areas, weaves through marshlands, shaded woodlots and agricultural fields.
“The Toronto Zoo plays a critical role in connecting people to the natural world. Being surrounded by the Rouge National Urban Park, we look forward to the opportunities this new education and welcome centre brings to engage people with our important wildlife conservation initiatives alongside important partners such as Parks Canada. The Blanding’s Turtle head-start breeding and release program is a perfect example of a collaborative success in saving and protecting species found in the Rouge National Urban Park. We look forward to working with Parks Canada to create a world-class conservation precinct in Rouge National Urban Park and to build on our successes with captive breeding and release programs of endangered and at-risk Canadian species like the Blanding’s turtle which are native to the Rouge Valley,” said DeJong.
Rouge National Urban Park, now nearly 95% complete thanks to a land transfer from TRCA earlier this year, is within a one hour’s drive of 20 per cent of Canada’s population and accessible by public transit, providing unprecedented opportunities for Canadians, including many youth and newcomers, to discover and connect with nature.