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Bowmanville Zoo facts for kids

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Bowmanville Zoo
Bowmanville Zoo entrance September 2014.jpg
Date opened 1919
Date closed October 10, 2016
Location 340 King Street East, Clarington, Ontario, Canada
Land area 42 acres (17 ha)
Coordinates 43°54′46″N 78°40′06″W / 43.912811°N 78.668456°W / 43.912811; -78.668456
No. of animals 300
Memberships CAZA

Bowmanville Zoo was a zoo in Clarington, Ontario, Canada. Founded in 1919, at the time of its closure, in 2016, it was the oldest private zoo in North America. It was a large supplier of animals to the U.S. film industry.

About 100,000 people visited the zoo each year, a figure which dropped by more than two thirds in its final year. The Bowmanville Zoo officially closed on October 10, 2016.


The land now occupied by the zoo, on the banks of Soper Creek, was part of the grounds of the Cream of Barley Mill, located further south on the creek. The mill owner developed a campground and park for tourists, aptly named "The Cream of Barley Campground", on the part of the property that was near the highway. Later, a petting zoo was added to the park.

By 1928, the mill, camp, and park (which now included tourist cabins) were owned by James Morden and operated by Alfred Shrubb, formerly a world-renowned long distance runner. By 1946, the park included tennis courts.

Over time, the zoo aspect of the business became more prominent, and the cabins were turned into animal shelters and storage buildings.

Michael Hackenberger was the final owner of the Bowmanville Zoo. In April 2016, Hackenberger was charged with 5 counts of animal abuse by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) due to a video obtained by PETA of Hackenberger whipping a young leashed tiger profusely while swearing at it.


Some of the animal talent included:


The zoo once had seven elephants with a mix of African and Asian.

Limba was the lone Asian elephant at the zoo; she arrived in 1989 and was euthanized in late 2013 at the age of 50 after a malignant tumor was found in her abdomen. The pachyderm was well known for appearing in Bowmanville's annual Santa Claus Parade and several movies. With her death and closure of Toronto Zoo's elephant exhibit, the only zoo in Ontario with elephants is the African Lion Safari.

Traveling exhibits

Animals from the Bowmanville Zoo are sometimes displayed as part of shows in various parts of Canada.

Two camels, Shawn and Todd, along with Jonas the tiger, went missing for two days on the way home from one of these trips when their trailer, along with the truck pulling it, was stolen near Drummondville, Quebec in 2010. All three were found in good health and returned to the zoo.


The zoo participated in breeding programs for endangered species, and also accepted retired circus animals.


On June 23, 2016, the zoo announced that it would close its doors at the end of the 2016 season, just three years short of its 100-year anniversary which was to occur in 2019. Zoo officials announced that the closure would occur as a result of financial issues caused by a catastrophic decline in attendance following the zoo's owner being charged with animal cruelty. The zoo officially closed its doors on October 10, 2016.

In 2017 the property re-opened as Clarington Family Outdoor Adventure Park and still featured lions and some staff from previous operations.

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