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Riverdale Farm (earlier named Riverdale Zoo) was established in 1856 when the City of Toronto bought 119 acres from the Scadding estate. On August 11, 1880, Riverdale Park was officially opened. After donations of animals, Riverdale Farm became Toronto’s First Zoo.
The list of initial animals reads like a Christmas carol. By 1902, the zoo had sixteen pheasants, two ocelots, a male camel, an elephant, a buffalo bull, six pens of monkeys, a Siberian bear, a young female crane, some lions, and a hippopotamus. That year, due to its proximity to the old railway line, it was easy for the Toronto Railway Company to carry 20,000 people to the zoo. After we bought a zoo in Scarborough in 1974 the animals were shipped to the new zoo and the Riverdale Zoo closed its gates for the last time. Over the next four years, many of the Riverdale Zoo buildings were torn down – all but The Residence, the Donnybrook, and the Island House buildings were demolished.
Today, we’re visiting the property, as well as the urban farm called Riverdale Farm. The Farm opened in 1978 and holds horses, cows, pigs, chickens and other animals in an late-19th-century-style farm. You may remember that Riverdale Farm narrowly escaped the chopping block last year after the infamous 2011 KPMG report identified it as a possible cost-cutting measure for the city.
You may also remember that just this year a $25,000 donation from the W. Garfield Weston Foundation (and a matching promise from Toronto’s councilors), brought new hope to the Farm – which is free to visit (but please donate).
For more information visit: the Parks and Forestry Page
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