On-Site Magazine

PCL building conservation centre at Toronto Zoo

By Adam Freill   

Construction Institutional

Construction kick-off event at Toronto Zoo marks launch of construction as well as 50 days of zoo celebrations.

(Photo courtesy of the Toronto Zoo)

In addition to making otters happy, the Toronto Zoo Community Conservation Centre (TZC3) will also bring nature and community together when it is completed. The zoo hosted a construction launch event for the centre, which will house a habitat for river otter, in late June alongside construction partner PCL. The event also marked the kick-off of 50 days of celebrations leading up to the Zoo’s 50th anniversary, which is set to happen on August 15.

As the new home to the Zoo’s endangered turtle conservation breeding centre, as well as the otter habitat and an educational arrival experience for Zoo guests, the zoo says TZC3 represents an exciting next phase for conservation science, with the incorporation of multiple labs and classrooms that will be used by students from U of T Scarborough as well as Toronto Zoo camps, Zoo School and education programs.

“The Toronto Zoo Community Conservation Centre is an incredible addition for our organization, building on our existing Wildlife Health Centre and reproductive science research with meaningful Canadian species conservation efforts and student/community engagement facilities,” stated Dolf DeJong, CEO of the Toronto Zoo. “This centre also supports our commitment to ‘two eyed’ seeing, bridging conventional conservation science efforts with traditional knowledge.”

“As the Toronto Zoo celebrates 50 years as a local landmark, PCL is excited to participate in its evolution and kick off construction of the new conservation centre,” stated Myke Badry, vice-president and district manager of PCL Constructors Canada Inc. (Toronto). “We are honoured to join the zoo as ‘Guardians of Wild’ alongside our expert team of consultants and trade partners and are committed to creating a positive experience for the animals and guests with safety at top of mind.”


The Toronto Zoo is the first zoo in Canada to establish a collaboration to bring a physical campus of a leading university on its site. When the classrooms are not being used for educational purposes, they will serve as outreach spaces that the broader community can use for meetings, gatherings, events, townhalls and programs.

“University of Toronto Scarborough already has deep ties to the zoo and a joint facility is one important way to deepen those ties,” explained Andrew Arifuzzaman, chief administrative officer for University of Toronto Scarborough. “As neighbours and important anchor institutions in Scarborough, we have a long and proud history of working together. This project really formalizes that partnership while inspiring future generations of conservationists. The emphasis on conservation and sustainability also complements U of T Scarborough’s involvement in EaRTH, a training and innovation hub involving various universities and colleges across the eastern GTA.”

“In the past few years, there has been a move in education towards experiential learning and this is going to be the future. This new facility will offer students a level of experiential learning that can only be gained by being immersed within a working conservation-based organization, our experienced researchers and practitioners,” said Gabriela Mastromonaco, the Toronto Zoo’s senior director of wildlife science. “It is a very different perspective on learning outcomes and will really set the students up for their careers and for success.”

The education spaces will be built outside the admission gates, making them accessible seven days a week, in the evenings and outside zoo hours. The zoo anticipates that more than 1.3 million guests will see the work going on at the centre each year.

TZC3 is being constructed by PCL Construction to Toronto Green Standard Version 4. This, says the zoo, is in keeping with its TZNet0 Environmental Sustainability Plan that aims to meet its goal of Net Zero by 2030.

Since it opened in 1974, close to 60 million guests have visited the Toronto Zoo, with millions more having digitally engaged with the zoo from around the world. The Toronto Zoo is open every day including December 25 and attracts approximately 1.2 million guests each year.




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