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Brantford Twin Valley Zoo

We are left with just few more weeks of summer and couple more beautiful places to explore, before we bid good bye to the season this year. Twin Valley Zoo at Brantford (Ontario, Canada) is one such place which was on our bucket list for this summer. At Canada, we cannot spot any other animal in our neighbourhood beyond pet dogs, cats and the ever active squirrels that freely roam wherever their heart takes them. If we are lucky, we may also get a chance to find few horses in their stables when we pass through the country side. 

While I was in the US, I visited a pet zoo in our locality, which housed a cow, sheep, goat, hen, rooster, few chicken, duck and a goose, specifically to introduce them to kids; which was quite amusing. A person like me who has grown up seeing domestic animals and birds like cows, buffalos, sheep, goat, hens, ducks etc. in the neighbourhood (in India), I found this particularly odd. Of course, today, we don't get to see these beings in the city side of India, however it is still a common sight in the villages. For kids in the US and Canada, apart from learning about animals in books and TV, the only opportunity to see the real beings are in zoos. My kid is all enthusiastic about animals these days, so we decided to take him to a zoo.

Twin Valley Zoo is a family owned private natural park, spread across 25 acres, which is dominated by wooded area. While I was researching about this place, I came across an interesting story behind its inception, which dates back to mid 1900s. In Holland, a boy and a girl - Anthony (Tony) and Hendrika (Henny) both 13years old, met and instantly fell in love with each other. They both married in 1960, left Holland and reached Canada with just a suitcase, tool box and $20. The couple tried their hands at many jobs to manage their family with 5 children. Tony built a successful career as a carpenter. However fate had other plans. He lost several fingers and injured his shoulder in an accident and couldn't continue his career as a carpenter. 

Tony's natural admiration for animals, coupled with his son's idea and support from Henny, he started Twin Valley Zoo in the year 1989. Since then, the zoo has developed multifold and has been sheltering a large number of animals and birds, which are roughly 80 species as on date. After Tony passed away in 2012, his son Tom accompanied by his wife Jennifer moved to help Henny in managing the zoo. Henny now in her 80s, still works everyday there. You may meet her at the office or the gift shop or on site tending to animals or preparing food for them. Her love and passion for animals and commitment to carry on her husband's vision has kept the Twin Valley Zoo flourish these many years.   

Owing to the weather at Canada, zoos are generally closed starting from October until the spring begins in May. Twin Valley Zoo is open 7 days a week (including holidays like Victoria day, Canada day, Civic day etc.) from May until mid October. Children under 2 years get a free entry to the zoo. There is an admission fee of $10.50 for kids between 2 - 14 years and $20 for adults. We can buy the tickets online or in person. It takes approximately 3hrs to take a look at the entire place. But we are free to stay for the whole day. Within the zoo, only light snacks, ice creams and water are available at the gift shop. We can bring our own food and have a picnic amidst the jungle atmosphere. We can also feed the goats and deers, with the special food sold at their gift shop. Visitors are not allowed to bring their pets inside the zoo or leave them in their vehicles in the parking lot as well. You may check out their website to know more.

I would prefer to call this place a nature park than a zoo, certainly for its greenery, making us feel we are walking in the woods. The lakes, the trails and trees are undisturbed to provide the animals a natural habitat. They have put up few "Grounding" places along the trail, which is a small area with a bench to sit and relax, with soil underneath. There were placards describing the benefits of walking and resting our barefoot on soil. How funny? This is what our ancestors did. They used to walk miles together without footwear. Now-a-days many of us don't even walk without footwear inside our homes. This zoo shelters a wide variety of birds and animals including deer, lions, tigers, bears, wolves, alpaca, lamas, zebras, pigs, peacocks, flemingos, cranes etc. This beautiful nature park also has many picnic spots, play area for kids and a separate enclosure for reptiles which houses ball python, yellow python, geckos etc. Though we were excited to see Barasingha deer brought from India, we couldn't find any of them. Seems they were still adjusting to their new habitat and too shy to make an appearance. The biggest attraction was to find free-roaming peacocks, dancing and running behind visitors. 

Twin Valley Nature Park is a spectacular zoological park that has the heart and dedication of a family! This makes it definitely a worth visiting place for all, enabling us to unwind amidst the nature!!

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