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KIMbits & KATtales—Where the Wild Things Are

You could probably find one of every kind of animal in the world right here in Ontario. Here we list every zoo, wildlife park, petting farm, sanctuary and aquarium matched with the best motorcycle route to get there. Go wild!

• Credit: Kimberlee Anna Taplay

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem.”   A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

When it comes to riding, I often just point Ruby in a direction and twist the throttle. Unless I have a place I have to be or something I have to do, I tend to wander. Not aimlessly, but pretty darned close to it: Along country roads I have come to know like the back of my hand, up highways and down numbered roads, through small towns and around big cities.

It usually doesn’t really matter where I am going; it’s often more about the ride. About the "getting there." And, more often than not, I ride alone. It’s my time to escape, to think, to dream.

Then there are the times that I yearn for a little bit more of an "adventure." I’m not talking about grand undertakings or long road trips to places unknown on roads full of switchbacks and long curves. Oh, those kinds of adventures are on my "BikeIt List," but with my work schedule and the medical challenges I face right now, those kinds of endeavors are simply a little bit further down on that list we’re talking about.

I’m referring to the kinds of days when you have a full morning or afternoon in front of you and it’s a perfect day to ride, but you are looking for ‘something to do’ once you get out there. There’s something to be said for destinations, even though a wise biker friend once told me, “It’s not about getting from Point A to Point B – it’s about everything in between.” I tend to agree, for the most part. But when you ride alone, or when you travel with just one or two close friends, it’s nice to have the chance to stop somewhere and take some time; time to rest, time to refresh, time to enjoy having "arrived."


Why We Ride

When it comes to travelling with Ruby, there’s never a time when I don’t have a camera in one of my saddlebags. Visit the What A Ride Facebook page and website or any other motorcycling travel blog or even fellow riders’ Facebook pages, and you’ll see countless pictures of different bikes in front of, beside, or near various points-of-interest. Bikes parked on shoulders of roads next to rivers, and motorcycles in groups outside small-town cafés, and rides in front of statues and monuments. We like to document our travels and relive our adventures just as much as those who travel by car or by boat or by plane. But, there’s something wonderfully and uniquely different about travelling by motorcycle, and there are adventures to be had that just can’t be achieved any other way.


Warm and Fuzzy

I saw a news report a while back about a petting farm that was looking for volunteers to come and cuddle their baby goats. They needed volunteers to cuddle and feed and play with the babies to help get them used to being around people. “How cool would that volunteering job be!” I remember thinking at the time.

As the weather got warmer and I was spending more and more time out on the road with Ruby, my mind wandered to the Farm Crawl I did on the bike last spring (check it out here). I started wondering about all of the little family farms and petting zoos and attractions related to spending time with animals that I have heard about but never taken the time to visit. That’s when I made the decision to contact a local family-owned and operated zoo that I took my kids to when they were little, but hadn’t been to in over 15 years.


Fit for the Zoo

Brantford Twin Valley Zoo started back in 1991. A labour of love for Tony and Henny Stallman, their goal was to provide a place for families to enjoy the outdoors in a quiet and clean environment. Built on 25 beautiful acres in Brant County, Brantford Twin Valley Zoo is a great place to observe a collection of native and exotic animals maintained in natural surroundings. In addition to enjoying the sights, Twin Valley Zoo also places a strong emphasis on educating all their guests. While seeing wild animals up close is amazing in and of itself, the zoo strives to provide excellent opportunities to learn about creatures from around the world. If you’ve ever wondered why zebras have stripes, or why some animals have fur instead of feathers, the educational presentations are perfect for you and your family.

While the picnic area, walking trails, and education centre are all reasons enough to visit, the real draw to the Twin Valley Zoo is the animals. You can see North American animals including black bears, moose, deer, ducks, wolves, turkeys, turtles, foxes, and swans. Visitors can also see and learn about camels, flamingos, monkeys, kangaroos, tigers, lions, zebras, and more.


Henny is still very much "hands on" at the facility (husband Tony has since passed away), and son Tom now manages the Zoo, assisted by Rhonda DeAthe, a Veterinary Technician with advanced specialization in Emergency and Critical Care, as well as working with zoo animal medicine. All three, along with their team of staff and volunteers, are working hard to improve and update enclosures/care and focus on enhancing the educational part of the experience for their guests. They are especially proud of several Shining Star Tourism awards for Brant County, and their 2013 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.


Henny, Tom and Rhonda were very welcoming, and took me on a private tour of the Zoo, giving extra-special permission for Ruby to come along. We spent the entire morning visiting different animals, and they allowed Ruby to get up-close-and-personal with many of the Zoo residents.

Gruff and Addie -- Saharan Addax antelope. Status: Critically endangered. The IUCN report on May 6, 2016 reported that there are only 3 Saharan Addax remaining in the wild.
African Pygmy goats - domesticated miniature meat goats. Fun and friendly. Mostly pets.
Three-day-old baby girls got rather comfortable in Ruby’s saddlebag.
American Flamingos. Get their bright pink colour from bacteria and beta carotenoids in their food in the wild. Need to be supplemented in captivity to maintain colour. Surprisingly long-lived -- recorded up to 83 years!
Eurasian Fallow Deer: Curiousity got the better of them and they ventured closer to Ruby to check out her antlers (handlebars).
Argentine Black and White Tegu: Very cool lizard. Believed to be the most intelligent lizard species. Discovered to seasonally self-thermoregulate, which means that he can elevate his body temperature up to 10 degrees above ambient temperature during breeding season. This one (named Bubba Gump) seemed to take quite a liking to Ruby’s saddlebag.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Brantford’s Twin Valley Zoo, and plan on revisiting often. I had a leisurely ride there, appreciated the more intimate surroundings of a smaller attraction, discovered a great place away from the hustle and bustle of the more typical "tourist destinations," and explored the countryside on the way home. It was the perfect way to spend a half-day of adventuring and still allowed me the option to continue riding beyond my planned excursion.

It’s great to have unplanned plans and celebrate the surprises in our travels, but there’s also something to be said for what’s three hours away from home and the little delights that can be found in discovering those smaller or lesser-known places and destinations that can help to make for a fuller and richer experience overall.

If you have several hours or part of day in front of you and nothing in particular to do, why not consider taking a ride to one of the many Ontario attractions of the "wild kind?" There are plenty to choose from, and you just might learn something new, discover your next favourite place, and even grab a picture or two that’s not your everyday "on-the-bank-of-a-river" shot. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even get to do some… monkeying around! 


Check out these Ontario "animal" attractions:


Chippewa Park

Wildlife Park 888-711-5094

2465 City Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario, P7C 4Z2


20232 Hwy 17W, Minnitaki, Ontario, P0V 2E0


2016 Third Line W, Sault Ste Marie, Ontario

Recommended Route: The Grand Algoma Tour


1 Drury Park Rd, Cochrane, Ontario, P0L1C0

Recommended Route: The Great Legends Tour



Parc Omega

399-323 North Rd , Montebello , Quebec , JOV 1LO


150 County Road 19, Wendover, Ontario, K0A 3K0


Prince of Wales Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K1G 5A3

Recommended Route: Ride the Ottawa Valley



5305 Bank St., Ottawa, Ontario, K1X 1H2

Recommended Route: Ride the Ottawa Valley



4750 Fallowfield Rd, Nepean, Ontario

 3667 Concession Road 6, Orono (Clarington), Ontario, L0B 1M0


3441 Grandview St. N., Oshawa, Ontario, L1H 8L7



2501 Rutherford Rd, Vaughan, Ontario, L4K 2N6

Recommended Route: Forks of the Credit Day Trip


Kawarthas Northumberland

The Big Apple Attraction

262 Orchard Drive, Hwy 401 Exit 497, Colborne, Ontario, K0K 1S0



363 Salem Road RR 1, Manilla, Ontario

Recommended Route: The L & A Big Ride



Hwy 7 East, Indian River, Ontario, K0L 2B0



RR #4, 1296 Bomanton Rd, Roseneath, Ontario, K0K 2X0



1230 Water St, Peterborough, Ontario, K9J 6Z5


Southeastern Ontario

Promise Land Family Fun Farm

640 Hamilton Road, Belleville, Ontario, K8N 4Z5


1058 County Rd #44, RR # 1 Oxford Station, Ontario, K0G 1T0

Recommended Route: Ottawa Valley Tour


Ontario's Highlands

Waddles n Wags Hobby Farm


78 Marquardt Lane, Eganville, Ontario, K0J 1T0

Recommended Route: The Highlands Loop



1200 Regional 506 Road, Cloyne, Ontario, K0H 1K0



Smith Falls, Ontario

Recommended Route: The Rideau Ridge



5591 County Rd 2, Ingleside, Ontario, K0C 1X0


Bruce Grey Simcoe

Elmvale Jungle Zoo

14191 County Road 27 (Highway 27), Elmvale, Ontario, L0L 1P0

Recommended Route: The Georgian Bay Coastal Route


82 Line 15 S, RR#1, Orillia, L3V 6H1

Recommended Route: The Georgian Bay Coastal Route



1922 County Rd 92, Elmvale, Ontario, L0L 1P0

Recommended Route: The Georgian Bay Coastal Route



8633 10th Line, Barrie, Ontario, L4M 4S4

Recommended Route: The Georgian Bay Coastal Route



Hwy. #11, between Orillia & Barrie, Oro Medonte, Ontario

Recommended Route: The Georgian Bay Coastal Route



305042 South Line A RR#3, Priceville, Ontario, N0C 1K0

Recommended Route: Grey-Bruce Waterfall Tour



734762 West Back Line, Markdale, Ontario

Recommended Route: Grey-Bruce Waterfall Tour


Algonquin Park, Almaguin Highlands, Muskoka and Parry Sound

Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary


1116 Crawford Street, Rosseau, Ontario, P0C 1J0

Recommended Route: Rosseau to Port Sandfield



Bird Kingdom

5651 River Road, Niagara Falls, Ontario, L2E 7M7

Recommended Route: Niagara Cherry Blossom Ride


905-688-5601 ext. 1927.

650 Read Rd, St Catharines, Ontario, L2S 2E7

Recommended Route: Niagara Cherry Blossom Ride



7657 Portage Road , Niagara Falls , Ontario

Recommended Route: Niagara Cherry Blossom Ride



2405 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Recommended Route: Niagara Cherry Blossom Ride



2821 Stevensville Road, Stevensville, Ontario, L0S 1S0

Recommended Route: Niagara Cherry Blossom Ride


Hamilton, Halton and Brant

African Lion Safari

1386 Cooper Road, Hamilton, Ontario, N1R 5S2


 84 Langford Church Rd, Brantford, Ontario, N3T 5L4


Be a Falconer for a Day! (Hawkeye Bird Control)


5048 Erin First Line, Acton, Ontario, L7J 2L9



2259 Milburough Lane, Campbellville, Ontario


Ontario's Southwest

Norflok County Fair and Horse Show 

October 4-10, 2016

Norfolk County Fairgrounds, 172 South Dr, Simcoe , Ontario


237 Unity Rd E, Caledonia, Ontario, N3W 2H7


544212 Clarke Road, Ingersoll, Ontario, N5C 3J8

Recommended Route: Cruise the Coast



R.R. 1, Vittoria, Ontario

Recommended Route: Cruise the Coast



1000 Lake Chipican Dr, Sarnia, Ontario



843 Concession Rd. 1, Canfield, Ontario, N0A 1C0



12734 Talbat Trail, Morpeth, Ontario



360 Rd 3 W, Kingsville, Ontario


Huron, Perth, Waterloo and Wellington

Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory

2500 Kossuth Road, Cambridge, Ontario, N3H 4R7


6981 Puslinch Concession 4, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 6J3


8548 Wellington Rd. 7, Moorefield, Ontario, N0G 2K0



3979 Road 108, Stratford, Ontario, N5A 6S5

Recommended Route: Ride the Counties



8722 15th Sideroad RR4, Rockwood, Ontario, N0B 2K0



13085 Fourth Line, Rockwood, Ontario, N0B 2K0



Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

288 Bremner Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3L9


2000 Meadowvale Road, Scarborough, Ontario, M1B 5K7


City of Toronto Parks & Rec 416-392-8192

9 Queens Quay W, Toronto, Ontario, M5J 2H3



440 Parkside Drive, Toronto, Ontario, M6R 2Z3


IMPORTANT NOTE:  If you happen to be out riding this season and snap a photo of you and your ride at any of the above-noted sites or along any of the routes, send it to me (KAT) at kataales@rogers.com OR post it to the What A Ride facebook site; just look for the KAT’S PHOTO CONTEST photo album and post away! There are some terrific prizes to be won throughout the year…



KAT (aka KimberleeAnna Taplay) is a member of the ‘What A Ride!’ correspondent team, and is looking forward to sharing the next edition of KIMbits and KATtales with you. To reach KAT, send your questions and/or comments to kattales@rogers.com.

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