If you are traveling to New York with children, I highly recommend visiting the Central Park Zoo. It has been the setting for the movie Madagascar, Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the hippo and Melman the giraffe.
If you do not know those movies, this small zoo of 2.6 hectares will be an ideal quiet pause.
History of Central Park Zoo
The first official zoo of New York was kind of a menagerie, installed in Central Park in the 1860′.
Then in 1934, the zoo was modified with the creation of new buildings around the pond for sea lions.
Back then, the zoo was called the “Zoo 1934” or “Robert Mosses Zoo”.
In the 1980’s, the zoo was completely abandoned. It reopened in 1988 after renovation and the implementation of new spaces for animals without cages.
The zoo is now managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) like the other 3 zoos in NY (Bronx Zoo, Queens Zoo, and Prospect Park in Brooklyn) and the New York Aquarium.
What can you see at the Central Park Zoo?
In this NYC zoo, you may see a hundred animal species such as:
– California Sea Lions in the center of the zoo,
– A gorgeous polar bear,
– Red Pandas from Asia (Laos, China …)
– Mountain Monkeys (snow monkey) of Japan,
– Snow Leopards of Central Asia,
– Antarctic Penguins (Gentoo Penguin)
– And many birds, reptiles …
You can see also see on certain part of the zoo, two areas with terrariums, ponds with penguins, a tropical area with amazing plants …
The best plans of the Central Park Zoo
As in almost all zoos, the best is to visit it when animals got feed. It’s an attraction children can participate in.
So if you want to attend these meal times, try visiting the zoo at the times showed below:
– Penguins Feeding: 10:30am and 2:30pm.
– Sea Lions feeding and Presentation: 11:30am, 2:00pm and 4:00pm.
If you wake up early in the morning, the best is to arrive about 10am 10:15am to see the Penguins Feeding at 10:30am, take a walk around the zoo and end your tour with the presentation of the sea lions at 11:30am.
If you prefer to go in the afternoon, get there between 1:30pm-1:45pm for the Sea Lions Feeding and Presentation at 2pm and see the Penguins feeding at 2:30pm.
If you feel a little bit pressured by the pace of New York life (noise, crowded places, atop skyscrapers…) you must take a break visiting the zoo.
You will experience a quiet moment, surrounded by “natural landscapes” and animals, with an amazing view of the NY skyline in the background.
In my opinion, it is a must-do in New York.
How much time do you need to visit the Central Park Zoo?
It usually takes an hour to visit the zoo if you want to stop a little bit to see the animals and take pictures.
If you’re visiting the zoo with children, you can spend at least 1.30 hour.
What more can you see and do at the Central Park Zoo?
The Central Park Zoo proposes several attractions and exhibits.
A good tip is to visit the New York Tisch Children’s Zoo, is a smaller zoo with barnyard creatures: goats, hens, sheeps…
Admission is free and it’s at about 100 meters from the north entrance of the zoo.
There is also a 4D film screening of two short films:
– Planet Earth: Ice World from BBC Earth
– Rio the 4D Experience.
4D movies are shot in 3D with added sensory effects such as water clouds, wind, snow, perfumes and seat vibration.
I haven’t done it so I’m not sure if it’s worth going or not 🙁 but sounds good.
Central Park Zoo and popular culture
The Central Park Zoo has been cited in several children’s books like Mr. Popper’s Penguins (1938) and the novels of JD Salinger The Catcher in the Rye (1951).
It was also quoted in Truman’s book; Capote Summer Crossing published in 2005.
In 1967, Simon and Garfunkel sang At the Zoo referring to the Central Park Zoo. In 1991, Paul Simon released a children’s book At The Zoo, in which he illustrated the lyrics of the song with very detailed drawings.
The zoo was also the main protagonist of several animated films like Madagascar (2005) Madagascar 2 (2008) and Madagascar 3 (2012), Walt Disney’s Wildlife (2006) and the Penguins of Madagascar movie series.
Central Park Zoo open hours
From April 5 to November 1 2014, it opens on Monday to Friday 10.am to 5.pm and and during the weekend and holidays from 10.am to 5:30.pm.
From November 2 to April 4 2015, it opens daily from 10.am to 4:30.pm.
Central Park Zoo Rates
General Admission (entry to the Main Zoo and Tisch Children’s Zoo):
– Child (ages 3-12): $ 7
– Adult (ages 13-64): $ 12
– Senior (65+): $ 9
Total Experience (entry to the Main Zoo, Tisch Children’s Zoo, and one admission to the 4-D Theater)
– Child (ages 3-12): $ 13
– Adult (ages 13-64): $ 18
– Senior (65+): $ 15
Where is the Central Park Zoo?
The Central Park Zoo is located near the southeast corner of Central Park.
From the 5th Ave. take the 60th Street or or the 61st Street to find the zoo.
Do you need to visit the Central Park Zoo during your trip to New York?
If you are traveling to New York with children, I think the visit to the zoo is almost mandatory. You can visit it in an hour and don’t loose so much time in your planning… You can be sure that your children will be excited to discover the scene of their favorite movies and TV shows.
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Visit the Central Park Zoo in New York
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