Bowmanville Zoo is Canada’s oldest private zoo; founded in 1919, it now hosts over 300 animals.
The land now occupied by the zoo, on the banks of Soper Creek, was part of the grounds of the Cream of Barley Mill, located further south on the creek. The mill owner developed a campground and park for tourists, aptly named “The Cream of Barley Campground”, on the part of the property that was near the highway. Later, a petting zoo was added to the park.
By 1928, the mill, camp, and park (which now included tourist cabins) were owned James Morden and operated by Alfred Shrubb, formerly a world-renowned long distance runner. By 1946, the park included tennis courts.
Over time, the zoo aspect of the business became more prominent, and the cabins were turned into animal shelters and storage buildings.
Today, over 100,000 people visit the 42 acre zoo annually.