By Wanda Wierzbicki

Terra Lumina opened at the Toronto Zoo on December 13. Staff and volunteers had the opportunity to preview the experience beforehand. So, as a Toronto Zoo volunteer, off I went with my husband Rob and my daughter Krystina to take in the new production. 

Terra Lumina is a winter evening sound and light show put on jointly by Moment Factory and the Toronto Zoo. As such, it is a separate ticket and animals are not on display. The story behind the multimedia show is a journey into the future of our planet, where humans have learned to live in harmony with animals and with the planet Earth.

The journey begins as we pass through a brightly lit portal into the year 2099. This part made me think of Star Wars or Back to the Future. The Terra Lumina experience consists of a 1.5 km walk through the zoo grounds. For those who know the Toronto Zoo, Terra Lumina follows the path through the Core Woods towards the Americas Pavilion, around the Tundra Trek, through the Wetlands towards the Australasia Pavilion and the Amur Tigers exhibit, and  finally to the Events Theatre. 

Along the way, we are shown various animal and plant tableaus using light and sound multimedia. The first scene we see is a pack of wolves running and howling into the night. Rounding the corner we see the fire flickering in native teepees as animal sounds surround us. The polar bear enclosure shows us a magnificent sight of polar bears swimming in the icy sea and playing on the icy cliffs. 

Moving on, we see a large bright cocoon and we learn that in the future, humans have learned to live alongside nature. Next we see a huge field of brightly coloured flowers and surrounding the field are four large drums. Visitors are encouraged to drum in time to the music. Kids especially seemed to really enjoy this part of the experience. As we walked on, we saw an enormous bison coming towards us through the forest, reminding us that change is possible.  

Our trip to the future was slowly drawing to a close as we walked through a very bright space-age like tunnel. As we ended our journey, we “see” that the seeds of change begin with us.  

Walking the paths of the Toronto Zoo at night is a unique experience. It was very “cool” (no pun intended) walking around the zoo at night with all the beautiful lights, music and voices both from the future and the past. It was futuristic but it also had elements drawn from Indigenous communities.

The Terra Lumina walk took approximately an hour. Tim Hortons and the washrooms are open, but the paths we walked were all entirely outdoors. My recommendation to those planning to take the opportunity to see the future at the Toronto Zoo this winter: remember to dress warmly.

See for times and prices.