Walk on the Wild Side With Virtual and In-person Wildlife Viewing in Ontario
Ontario’s large open spaces, forest and wilderness tracks and endless lakes, rivers and shorelines are home to a host of magnificent wildlife species. Large mammals like moose and black bear, predators such as wolf and fox, otters, mink, weasels and beaver, and waterfowl, birds of prey and songbirds abound.
We’re also home to a variety of sanctuaries, preserves and nature parks dedicated to the education, protection and rehabilitation of these precious creatures.
Discover engaging ways, both on and offline, to view native wildlife, learn about their role in the natural eco-system and support conservation efforts.
If one of these locations is near you, check in advance before visiting in person for hours of operation, rules, restrictions and reservation requirements, be mindful of social distancing and bring santizer and face masks.
Wolves at the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Centre, just north of Haliburton, south of Algonquin Provincial Park
Dedicated to the conservation and education of Canadian wolves, this 5,000 square foot facility features a large indoor observatory overlooking the 15 acre forested enclosure, home to an Alpha pair of wolves and their siblings and offspring.
Virtual viewing: check out the live Wolf Webcams for a peek at the pack.
Polar Bears at the Canadian Polar Bear Habitat, Cochrane, north of Timmins
Truly a one-of-a-kind experience, the Polar Bear Habitat in northeastern Ontario provides a fascinating window into the world of one of Canada’s most majestic creatures. The unique research, rescue and conservation station hosts four polar bears in an over 24 acre setting of subarctic and boreal landscape, with a 10-acre lake.
Coyotes and Foxes at the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Rosseau, Muskoka
This facility is a registered charity that serves as a safe haven for orphaned and injured native wild animals. Staff provide quality care with the goal of rehabilitating and releasing animals. In some cases, animals are unable to survive in the wild and require permanent care. Take a pre-booked, private and fully guided educational tour and meet some of their resident animals, including silver, arctic and red foxes and coyotes.
Swans at Wye Marsh Nature Centre, Midland, just north of Barrie
Trumpeter swans are making a comeback in Ontario. Efforts to reintroduce this once-native waterfowl have paid off, and the wetland habitat in Wye Marsh is a good spot to see these graceful birds.
Monarch Butterflies in Point Pelee National Park, Leamington, southeast of Windsor
Point Pelee National Park, the southernmost point on mainland Canada, is a key rest stop for thousands of colourful Monarch butterflies (along with over 350 bird species) on the impressive migratory journey south each year. Catch the spectacle mid-September into fall. The park is also an annual pit stop for a rich variety of migrating songbirds and raptors (birds of prey) in the spring and fall. The Park has gradually re-opened for visitors, but check in advance on the status of facilities and services, as well as entry limitations, wait times and delays.
River Otters at the Aquatarium at Tall Ships Landing, Gananoque, east of Kingston
This 33,000 foot climate-controlled aquarium and discovery centre is a registered not-for-profit charity located on the shores of the St. Lawrence River. Engaging and entertaining exhibits and day tours educate guests on the aquatic world of the river, including its native river otters. Witness two wily little web-footed rescued residents splash, swim and play in a massive glass-enclosed habitat.
Birds of Prey at the Canadian Raptor Conservancy, Vittoria, just west of Port Dover
Just south of Long Point Conservation Area, along the coast of Lake Erie, the Canadian Raptor Conservancy focuses on the conservation and education of raptors, vultures, eagles, hawks, falcons and owls. Their birds in flight workshops are a dream for birdwatchers and photographers.
Virtual viewing: enjoy breathtaking photos and videos from Birds in Flight Photo Sessions shared on Facebook.
Elk, Moose and Bison at Cedar Meadows Wilderness Park, Timmins, northeastern Ontario
One of northern Ontario’s finest resorts features an expansive wilderness park that’s home to moose, deer, elk, bison and mountain goats. Join the daily wilderness tours at 3pm (year-round) and 7pm (summer only) to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures from a tractor-drawn wagon. You may even get the chance to hand feed some of the animals.
Virtual viewing: until you can visit in person, their online wildlife gallery is sure to elicit lots of oohs and awes.
Moose in Algonquin Park with Voyageur Quest, South River, northwestern corner of Algonquin Provincial Park
Every nature lover should experience a moose photographic safari canoe trip through Ontario’s iconic provincial park in their lifetime. Join professional photographer, Rob Stimpson on a three-day paddle through the northwest corner of Algonquin Park.
Songbirds at the Hilliardton Marsh Research & Education Centre, Hilliardton, north of North Bay, near the Quebec border
Shutterbugs and diehard birders flock to this nature preserve for exceptional opportunities to spot rare and beautiful songbirds, hummingbirds and shore birds during the spring and fall migration and for bird banding events. The Centre is working on facilitating small group visitation for the fall migration season, stay tuned for updates.
Lynx at the Toronto Zoo, Toronto, Greater Toronto Area
With over 5,000 animals, the Toronto Zoo is home to wildlife from around world. Head to the Canadian Domain to meet some of Ontario’s native species including the notoriously shy lynx. These mighty cats are made for winter with thick fur coats so in the wild they gravitate towards Ontario’s northern boreal forests.
Virtual viewing: there’s never a dull moment at the zoo, keep up with all the residents, large and small on Facebook, watch the live interviews with the wildlife care team and check out upcoming the family friendly virtual events.
White-tailed Deer in the Deer Yards, Loring-Restoule, north of Muskoka
White-tailed deer are the most abundant deer species across Ontario, however tens of thousands have traditionally congregated in the Loring-Restoule, creating one of the largest herds in the province, known as the ‘Deer Yards’. This unique viewing experience just north of Muskoka features 3.6 km of trail systems around stunning wetlands with interpretive signage, maintained by local volunteers.
Beluga Whales and Bearded Seals in James Bay, Moosonee and Moose Factory, northern Ontario
Be one of the privileged few to journey to the heart of the Hudson Bay Watershed to Moosonee, Ontario’s only saltwater port. Embark on a boat tour from Moose Factory upriver towards Moose River Migratory Bird Sanctuary and the salt waters of the James Bay. Spring and fall are the best seasons for bearded seals and beluga whale sightings. You’ll need ample time to plan and prepare for an adventure such as this so start at least a year in advance.
Black Bears in The Chapleau Crown Game Preserve, north of Sault Ste. Marie in Algoma Country
Ontario is home to the largest crown game preserve in the world. Over two million acres (700,000 hectares) of Chapleau Crown Game Preserve in the heart of Algoma Country is renowned for exceptional wildlife viewing. Protected species include moose, beaver, fox, wolves, waterfowl, loons, owls and a healthy population of black bear. To witness these shy, solitary animals in the wild is a sight to behold.
Spirit Moose in Ivanhoe Lake Provincial Park, Foleyet, west of Timmins
Keep your eyes peeled for a magical treat. Just west of Timmins, in and around the small Francophone community of Foleyet and the Ivanhoe Lake Provincial Park, sightings of white coloured moose (the ‘spirit’ or ‘ghost’ moose) have been reported. The rare colour is a result of a regressive gene strain, and because the hunting the spirit moose is prohibited, their numbers are growing.