Clarington to team up with trails organization Valley’s 2000 to plan future of Bowmanville Zoo lands

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Published May 5, 2022 at 4:42 pm

Clarington would like to see a skating trail - like this one at Arrowhead Provincial Park - as part of future development of the Bowmanville Zoo lands

Clarington is expected to partner up with local natural environment group Valley’s 2000 to plan the future of the Bowmanville Zoo lands.

The Bowmanville Zoo was in operation for nearly 100 years before closing its doors in 2016 following several years of controversy and complaints regarding the treatment of the animals.

The zoo lands are now mostly owned by the municipality and Clarington Council is already working on a Master Plan to see what recreational facilities and amenities are best suited for the area, with a skating trail high on the list.

Council is expected to bring Valleys 2000 – which works to develop, enhance, promote and preserve trails, fish and wildlife habitat and special natural areas in the Bowmanville and Soper Creek Valleys – into the team at Monday’s meeting after the group expressed an interest in teaming up on the project.

Valley’s 2000 group have committed to fund and procure a specialized planning consultant to assist with the creation of a themed use for the lands and to develop a major contributing donor list that will help to build the proposed amenities in the future.

The municipality is already considering a full-sized soccer field, basketball court, lookout area, walking trails, gazebo and a large playground feature for the adjoining Timber Trails residential neighbourhood.

The Bowmanville Zoo first opened in 1919 as a campground and petting zoo and eventually morphed into a full-fledged zoo – the oldest private zoo in North America by the time of its closure.

The Zoo gained its fame by lending its exotic animals to Hollywood for the movie business – including Caesar, the African lion from Ghost in the Darkness and Jonas, the Bengal tiger from the Life of Pi. Elephants from the zoo were also regular participants in events such as the Bowmanville Santa Claus Parade.

The Zoo closed because of declining attendance after owner Michael Hackenberger was charged with numerous cruelty to animal offenses.

Clarington staff is expected to report back to Council on the matter at the Joint Committee meeting to be held on September 12.

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