Toronto Zoo Domain Ride


The Toronto Zoo Domain Ride (also known as the Canadian Domain Ride) was an automated guideway transit (AGT) service used to carry visitors between sections, or "domains", of the Toronto Zoo. Though technologically closer to a simple rubber-tired metro, it was almost universally referred to as a "monorail".

Toronto Zoo Domain Ride
Toronto zoo monorail.jpg
StatusClosed and partially dismantled
OwnerMetro Toronto Zoo
LocaleScarborough, Ontario, Canada
Stations3 (expanded to 5)
TypeAutomated guideway transit
Operator(s)Metro Toronto Zoo
Rolling stockBendix-Dashaveyor AGT
Line length5.6 km (3.48 mi)
Highest elevationElevated

The train began running in 1976, and closed in 1994, after a train lost power and rolled backwards down the track into a second train, injuring about 30 people. Parts of the line were subsequently taken over by the Zoomobile, an open-air tractor-drawn vehicle with five stations (Main Station, Canadian Domain Station, Africa Station, Americas Station)[1] which had been operating since 1980.[2]

Ride detailsEdit

Map of the Toronto Zoo, with the partial Zoo Domain Ride sections shown as they exist in July 2013.

The vehicle was a rubber-wheeled AGT prototype[3] developed by American firm Bendix-Dashaveyor.[4] The train operated on a concrete guideway with electricity supplied by rails located above one side of the guideway. Passengers entered and left via doors located at each double row of facing seats. A secondary set of controls was available in the last car of the train to allow it to be reversed into the storage/service area located towards the north end of the zoo property.

Details of the Dashaveyor's running gear are visible in this photo. The small horizontal wheels at the front steer the larger running wheels just visible behind them. The electrical supply uses a small 3rd rail shaped like a V with a pickup that pushes up on the bottom of it. The operator can also be seen in the front left of the cabin.

In addition to being a quick way to travel between sections of the zoo, the ride provided the only way to view several animals, in remote areas of the zoo. Moose, white-tailed deer and several other exhibits were not accessible from walking paths. The ride operator would provide commentary on the animals visible from the train during the ride.

Plans to scrap the vehicle and tracks dragged well past 1999. Portions of the guideway have now been removed, while others remain in place (overgrown by vegetation in many areas), but the electrical supply rails have been removed from the remaining portions of the guideway. Three stations remain in place: the Americas station stands behind closed gates, and the Weston station is still accessible for washrooms—the crumbling station platform can be seen from behind the chain barriers.

The Ruins of Weston Station in the Canadian Domain in May 2010.

The Main Station still remains to this day and is now used for several purposes: the Peacock Cafe, and the Main Zoomobile station.[5]


The current Zoomobile is a Chance Coach Sunliner tram with four cars set (carrying 103 passengers, 1 driver and 1 tour guide) that replaced the Domain Ride and vehicles have rubber tires running on along paved paths in the zoo. Unlike the Domain Ride, the Zoomobile uses open air cars.


During March break of 1991, nine people[6] were injured when a train crashed into the rear of a second train that was stopped between stations.[7] In December of that year, the Metro Zoo board of directors was warned that the monorail needed repair to its braking and propulsion systems in order to prevent future accidents.[8]

On July 11, 1994, 37[9] people suffered injuries (including broken bones and whiplash) when one train crashed into a second that was in the process of loading. Upon leaving the Weston station, a train would have to climb a hill; however, at the top of the hill, the train lost power and rolled back into the station at an estimated 40 km/h[10] (25 mph), slamming into the front of a second train that was loading. In general, trains would be spaced out by 15–20 minutes; however, due to a larger-than-usual attendance, trains were operating more frequently,[11] and were more crowded too – the first train was carrying 60 passengers.[10] As a result, the Zoo was fined C$43,000, and trial evidence indicated that the ride operator was "inadequately trained to handle the 'unusual situation'".[9]


There have been plans for the Toronto Zoo to have a maglev train operation replacing the Toronto Zoo Domain Ride. The Edmonton-based maglev consortium Magnovate, which includes Magna and Lockheed Martin, would pay for the construction, as well as the first five years of operation, while the zoo would pay for the operation afterwards.[12] In November 2018, the deal is modified to the first 15 years of operation.[13] The plan was approved by the Toronto Zoo board in December 2018. Construction can begin after Magnovate raises sufficient funding to cover the estimated CA$25 million cost of construction. The firm hopes to complete construction by 2021.[14] However, this project is delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Wild Rides". Plan Your Ride. Toronto Zoo. Archived from the original on December 30, 2006.
  2. ^ "About the Toronto Zoo". History. Toronto Zoo. Archived from the original on February 20, 2007. 1980 Official opening of guar house and Zoomobile ride.
  4. ^ "Automated Guideway Transit: An Assessment of PRT and Other New Systems (Part 6 of 16)" (PDF). Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  5. ^ The Rise and Fall of The Toronto Zoo Domain Ride, retrieved 2021-12-02
  6. ^ Nicolaas van Rijn (July 12, 1994). "Monorail got off to bumpy beginning 9 others injured in 1991 accident" (Archive). Toronto Star. p. A3.
  7. ^ Sterling Taylor (July 13, 1994). "Zoo told of faulty monorail in 1991 Staff report cited problems with braking system" (Archive). Toronto Star. p. A1.
  8. ^ Stan Josey (November 3, 1994). "Zoo told of faulty monorail in 1991 Staff report cited problems with braking system" (Archive). Toronto Star. p. A2.
  9. ^ a b Nicolaas van Rijn (May 11, 1996). "Zoo fined $43,000 in monorail crash" (Archive). Toronto Star. p. A8.
  10. ^ a b Stan Josey (July 14, 1994). "Driver relives 30-second terror ride Runaway train 'most terrifying experience' ever" (Archive). Toronto Star. p. A6.
  11. ^ Calvin Henry-Cotnam (July 12, 1994). "Monorail Accident at Metro Toronto Zoo" (Newsgroup). Newsgrouprec.railroad.
  12. ^ Sachgau, Oliver (April 10, 2016). "Toronto zoo eyes monorail after Edmonton firm's proposal". The Toronto Star. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  13. ^ "Yes, it's a monorail ... and the Toronto Zoo could get it for free - CBC News".
  14. ^ Chan, Kenneth (December 3, 2018). "Toronto Zoo approves magnetic levitation monorail project". Retrieved January 29, 2019.

External linksEdit

  • article
  • 40 Days on the Monorail
  • Video about the Domain Ride