July 20, 2014


feeding a tiger ice cream - don't try this at home!
What happens to unwanted, abused or injured exotic animals like lions, tigers and wolves in Canada?

I hoped that animals used in movies, research or zoos would receive pensions to fund their retirements. Instead, they’re often killed or given to sanctuaries. Since 1989, the non-profit Bear Creek Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary has taken care of some. It’s located near Barrie --- perfect for a day trip from Toronto or en route to the cottage.

What You See

Mary Barros guided us patiently and told us about the animals. She answered many questions. We visited on a perfect day: overcast with temperatures in the mid 20s. There were mosquitos but didn’t apply the bug spray provided.

The sanctuary has many different types of animals. You’ll probably never get closer to likes of tigers or wolves. We got to pet several safer animals, including Bob the Bobcat.
The Highlight
For years, I’ve wanted to attend a Public Wolf Howl at Algonquin Provincial Park where wolves sometimes respond to imitation howls from the park rangers. These events have become big. The most recent one, #116 had 566 cars and about 2,260 participants. At Bear Creek, we heard wolves howling twice without any trickery, which saves us a trip to Algonquin.

Book A Group Tour

Invite your friends and family. You can only visit the sanctuary as part of a group walking tour which lasts about three hours. We had a group of seven. Arrive on time and wear comfortable shoes.

Your ticket is a donation. The price may seem steep (minimums of $50 for adults and $25 for children) but you get a memorable experience and help people who care run the sanctuary.

If you can’t go in person, visit the Bear Creek website. They accept donations and you can “adopt” an animal.


PS Have you seen The Elephant In The Living Room? This documentary explores the world of exotic animals in the US. For instance, Texas has more Bengal tigers than India.

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