Our History

Originally known in 1919 as the “Cream of Barley Park” it was a small recreational resort hosting a swimming pool, cottages, tennis courts and a small petting zoo. The Connell family, who operated the facility as a small petting zoo, purchased Cream of Barley Park in the 1950’s. In 1964, the park underwent a name change to become the now famous Bowmanville Zoo (Ltd.). In 1988, under new ownership, it then became known as the Bowmanville Zoological Park.


The Bowmanville Zoological Park was CAZA, Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, accredited in 1993, and is a winner of the prestigious Thomas Baines Award for outstanding excellence and achievements.

As the oldest private zoo in North America, the park has established itself as an important voice in conservational education and the promotion of viable captive populations of endangered animals.

Maintaining the largest stable of trained animals in North America, Bowmanville Zoo has become a leading supplier of animal talent to the television, movie and entertainment industry. While concentrating upon the large feline predators and elephants, BZP has enjoyed great success with a wide array of mammalian, reptilian and avian species.

While the development of appropriate animals for the feature film and television market remains one of the major activities of the zoo, it is a smaller part of the principal ongoing efforts to educate and instil stewardship ethics of our planet in visitors to the zoo.