—Total attendance at the Toronto Zoo during the first four months of 2014, according to a new report. That’s a loss of 9,049 visitors over the same period last year, which was before the zoo’s new pandas had gone on display. Zoo staff lay the blame on last winter’s unusually brutal weather.
In this edition of The Weekender, some Easter activities, Record Store Day and three more things to do in Toronto this weekend.
Beatrice and Virgil
This new adaptation of Life of Pi author Yann Martel’s 2010 novel is a fable about the difficulty of representing the Holocaust in art. The story has layers: on one level, it’s about the relationship between two men, one a writer and the other a taxidermist. At the same time, it’s an allegory starring a donkey and a monkey, both recovering from an event referred to as “the horrors.” Sarah Garton Stanley directs. Until May 11. $35–$45. The Factory Theatre, 125 Bathurst St., factorytheatre.ca
Jeez, bear. Get it together.
Screwing up a clear-cut PR win like the naming of an adorable baby polar bear seems like it should be impossible, but now we know it isn’t. The Toronto Zoo has come under criticism for including “Searik” on a shortlist of names for its new polar bear cub. The issue isn’t the name itself (though it is a slightly weird one); it’s the fact that the Zoo’s website originally identified it as being the Inuit word for “beautiful.”
Toronto’s frigid winter and recent blizzards seem all worth it today. In the Toronto Zoo’s new video, its now three-month-old polar bear cub playfully embraces his new outdoor habitat and demonstrates that he is, in fact, a real bear. The mountain of fluffy snow is deep enough to swallow the poor guy, but he bravely ventures forth and buries his little snout into the powder. Look for the pure delight on his face when he re-emerges and paws the snow off his ears.
Those who feel particularly attached to the cub—perhaps from watching this emotional journey on repeat—can actually have a say in naming him. Visit the Toronto Zoo’s website and choose from their selection of six possible names, from James (after James Bay) to Searik (meaning beautiful in Inuit). From what we’ve seen of the cub so far, we’re on Team Humphrey, which apparently means “Peaceful Warrior.”
What good is having pandas if you can’t watch security footage of them somersaulting through snowbanks? No good at all, that’s what. Thankfully, the Toronto Zoo realizes this, and the video is embedded above.
Gorillas are huge primates, which somehow makes the baby versions even cuter than other newborn animals. Case in point is this tiny gorilla, born at the Toronto Zoo on January 9. As of Friday, zoo staff had been unable to determine its sex (apparently its mother, a zoo gorilla named Ngozi, has been keeping a tight hold on her tot). The as-yet-unnamed tiny gorilla joins this tiny polar bear on the zoo’s most-adorable list. That strange sensation you feel is your heart beating for the first time since the temperature dropped below zero.
Here’s another picture of gorilla junior:
The Toronto Zoo is the city’s greatest source of cute bear images. On Tuesday, we saw a delightful clip of a panda playing in the snow, and now the zoo has released this video of its two-month-old polar bear cub taking some of its first steps. It’s a genuine emotional journey. At first the bear stumbles, at one point turning itself in the complete wrong direction. You can see the defeat in its fluffy, adorable face. And then, well—no spoilers. Suffice it to say, it’s the film of the year so far.
There’s plenty to hate about the city’s recent bout of extremely cold, snowy weather, but it seems as though the Toronto Zoo’s two pandas aren’t fazed by it. The pair are spending their first full-fledged winter in Canada, and the zoo has been using its Facebook page to post some images of the male panda, Da Mao, frolicking in the deep freeze like we all secretly wish we could. Enjoy.
There’s a magical time in the months after a polar bear is born when it’s too tiny to maul anyone, and yet also large and furry enough that it’s recognizably a bear. We saw Hudson, the Toronto Zoo‘s previous polar bear cub, go through all the phases in 2012 before he was shipped off to a zoo in Winnipeg. And now, at last, we have a brand-new puppy-sized ursine friend starring in all kinds of heart-meltingly adorable YouTube videos (see above).
Finally, after years of bickering and delays, Toronto’s prolonged pachyderm saga is drawing to a close. Shortly after Thanksgiving, the Toronto Zoo’s biggest, wrinkliest residents, Toka, Iringa and Thika, will embark on an epic, 50-hour road trip to their new home at an animal sanctuary in California. Former Price Is Right host and animal lover Bob Barker is, as promised, funding the trio’s transport, even though his preferred plan to fly them via either a military plane or a Russian cargo jet fell through. The elephants will, however, be able to soothe their aching post-journey muscles in a therapeutic Jacuzzi once they get set up in their west coast digs. Sounds awfully nice. [Global]
A tour of some of the Toronto Zoo’s cutest, cuddliest animals, including the prize pair of giant pandas
Er Sun and Da Mao, two giant pandas on long-term loan from Chongqing Zoo in China, arrived via FedEx in March (Prime Minister Stephen Harper even signed for the package) and became an instant hit. Their kind eyes and winsome smiles had the media instantly smitten, and the public followed suit when the Zoo’s Giant Panda Experience opened in the middle May. A couple months into their five-year stay, four-year-old male Da Mao is emerging as an outgoing, attention-seeking rock star and five-year-old female Er Shun as a shyer, more reserved creature. Of course, while they’re the attraction du jour, other adorable beasties in residence still bring a serious awwwww factor. Here, a slideshow of some of the Zoo’s cutest denizens, from tiny baby lemurs to lovably awkward penguins.
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After twelve years of planning, a pair of giant pandas on long-term loan from China’s Chongqing Zoo finally touched down in Toronto this morning. (The exhibit opens to the public in May after a mandatory 30-day quarantine.) Er Shun and Da Mao arrived via FedEx—Stephen Harper signed for the package—and, based on the pics of the couple enjoying in-flight catering and gazing out the window, they weathered the journey better than most coach passengers. The Toronto Zoo is hoping the pair will mate during their five-year stay in the city—which is a lot more likely now that they’re completely sure they’ve got a male and a female.
Toronto got a lot less adorable in January, when the Toronto Zoo’s young polar bear Hudson left for the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg. As if to rub it in, the Buffalo Zoo debuted a new polar bear cub, nicknamed Luna, five weeks later. The only thing that can ease our pain is to know that Hudson’s cuteness still reigns supreme. Toronto’s hometown bear, back when he was just a ball of fuzz, is the one on the left showing some spectacular camera-mugging. However, this video of Luna, right, falling out of her kiddie pool may just sway the vote. If you need more evidence before making your choice, check out the photos below.
1 | My indestructible watch
In 1990 I went on an expedition to the Arctic with 30 Soviet and Canadian students. While I was preparing for the trip, my parents gave me this Rolex Submariner. On the back it says, “Go for it, Love Mom and Dad.” It’s survived the freezing cold, having kayaks fall on it and being chased by
2 | My trainer
His name is Teiko Reindorf, and he comes to our house three days a week. It’s an intense 45 minutes of interval circuit training. He just kills me. But it gives me energy for the day.
3 | My weekend retreat
Four years ago my wife, our daughter and I were visiting friends at Lake Simcoe, and we fell in love with the place. There happened to be a cottage for sale next door—and we bought it. It’s only an hour from Toronto, so we’re there almost every other weekend, all year round. Our daughter, who’s now six, calls it Lake Sim-Cohon.
4 | My good luck charm
My grandfather died in 1991. When I was cleaning out his apartment, I found this American $10 bill in his wallet. I’ve kept it ever since, and I take it with me wherever I go.
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My father is George Cohon, the founder of McDonald’s in Canada and Russia. He used this suitcase when he was trekking back and forth to Moscow in the ’80s. When I became commissioner, he gave it to me. I love it because it fits just enough for a short trip: my suit, some shirts, workout stuff and we’re good to go.
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