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CCDI's 10th Anniversary

Toronto Zoo Knows It’s Better for Our Planet When Everyone Works Together

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The Toronto Zoo is confident that uplifting their employees and surrounding communities will truly enhance their conservation efforts.

With a mission of connecting people, animals, and conservation science to fight extinction, the Toronto Zoo envisions a world where wildlife and wild spaces thrive. They’ve gained an international reputation for saving wildlife, re-vitalizing guest experiences, commitment to their broader communities, and innovating zoo technology. 

The largest zoo in Canada, it hosts over 300 species — but the Toronto Zoo is equally as invested in supporting its employees as its animals — which is saying a lot. 


Created in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, they have a custom, multi-level equity, diversity, and inclusion(EDI) Certificate program from which over 200 of their employees have graduated. Plus, they provide monthly training sessions, lunch and learns, host guest speakers, and participate in community events like the Toronto Pride Parade.

Leading by example

The zoo has an EDI Steering Committee, providing annual Zoo Camp and Zoo School scholarship opportunities for equity seeking youth, are always reviewing policies with a lens on EDI, and recently added on-site multi-faith prayer and spirituality room. 

In 2021, they started the action-based Climate Action Learning and Leadership program. It’s designed to increase exposure and engagement from historically marginalized groups in the field of conservation science and other environment-based career pathways, especially related to climate change. The program is increasing opportunities that may lead to employment in these sectors and has won multiple awards for their efforts thus far, including the Eleanore Oakes Award for Education Program Design.

They’re working alongside local community partners to discuss long-term goals for Scarborough’s workplace development and how to remove barriers to employment opportunities. The zoo often provides their community partners with advanced job postings, career presentations, on-site visits, and more.

In this together

Another major way in which the Toronto Zoo has proven they’re leaders in EDI is their desire to connect people, animals, and conservation science with traditional knowledge to fight extinction. As the first zoo in North America to hire a full-time Director of Indigenous Relations, this position is working closely with First Nations communities to weave traditional stories and information into zoo elements, including stories of culturally significant animals, on-site art, interpretive signage, learning sessions, and land stewardship. They plan to grow traditional medicines in their greenhouses, create opportunities for Indigenous youth, and foster strong ties between traditional knowledge and conservation science.

The zoo’s efforts are paying off. Every year, they conduct staff surveys to measure inclusion and equity, and in 2022 were awarded the DIVERSIO DEI Impact Award. 

The Toronto Zoo believes everyone plays a part in their conservation mission. Through these partnerships, they’re well on their way to achieving their long-term goal of establishing a space where everyone feels valued and welcomed.

To learn more about the Toronto Zoo, visit

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