Off the beaten path, down an old farm road, a family of magnificent creatures await your discovery. It is here, tucked away under the lush forest canopy, a family of big cats lounge, a pride of lions each with names followed by nicknames resembling traits of their characters.

Located halfway between Niagara Falls and Toronto in Caledonia, Ontario you’ll find The Killman Zoo — home to one of the largest collections of Big Cats in the province. The Killman Zoo has been described as natural, serene, and most importantly, closer than ever. Upon walking through the paths and interacting with keepers, it’s easy to see the un- breakable bond between human and animal — a bond that can only be seen in such open quarters.

Over the years the zoo has expanded into a magnificent and magical place of creatures big and small, fierce and compassionate. It all began in 1963 when wildlife artist and writer, Murray Killman moved to the country to build a house for his family. Initially he developed the habitat for migratory waterfowl, excavating seven small lakes — a substantial contribution to the water table of the surrounding farmland. However it wasn’t long before his plans changed.

As an artist, Murray was known for his realist technique while specialized in portraying wild animals — specifically the different breeds of North American cats. Acquiring the first big cat in 1979 allowed Murray to paint with accuracy of the subject. It kind of snowballed from there, soon after the Killman’s Wildlife Sanctuary was born. Over time the sanctuary would grow and evolve, eventually becoming The Killman Zoo, opening its door to the public in 1988. “I call it the zoo that art built” Murray would say often.

The Galley of his work shown annually alongside the cat family brought a rewarding life and acknowledgement of his talent worldwide.
Today, we still find curiosities of his work and rather than the brush stroke, many lenses arrive capturing the perfect detail of these beautiful animals, many of which are now in 3rd and 4th generation of our original family members. The zoo’s 33 lush acres are now home to 45 different species of animals, many of them rare and endangered.

We too are in transition with the zoo; building new enclosures, new play- grounds for the cats, striving to ensure our animal families are content without interfering with what they are. Not the typical commercialized big zoo, you will not find water parks and playgrounds here rather the appreciation of our wild life kingdom. The zoo takes you through serene, natural wooded trails. The landscape without interference creates a pallet season- ally for artists and photographers alike.

With a wide variety of animals and keepers, the Killman Zoo is most definitely a bucket-list destination. Once parked you will know you have arrived having been greeted by a lion at the front of your car. This is just the beginning. The zoo is a place of harmony and kind healings with gratitude for the animals and the natural atmosphere. Discover one of Ontario’s best-kept secrets this summer! Find out more at