Created in the 1860s as a small menagerie, the Central Park Zoo was the first “official” zoo to open in New York City. It’s part of a system of four zoos and the New York Aquarium that are managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The Zoo has been remodeled with buildings and exhibits added over the years. Recent additions include the Tisch Children’s Zoo in 1997, and a snow leopard exhibit in 2009.
The Zoo has been featured many times in pop culture, including literature, music, and the movies; ask guides and employees to point out spots of interest.
An interesting attraction for all ages, in addition to the Children’s Zoo, younger persons will enjoy the the sea lions, snow monkeys, and penguins. The “Tropic Zone” gives visitors the opportunity to walk through a rainforest and see the animals and plant life that exist at the various levels of a rain forest, from the tops of the trees to the ground terrain. A short film can be seen at the 4D theater, and it features the voice talents of many famous actors associated with New York. Special effects like rain, wind and snow compliment the film.
Guided tours are available, and visitors of all ages will enjoy listening to zookeepers and attendants speak at the various exhibits at feeding times. Separate education programs are provided for both children and adults, and details on these programs and the guided tours may be obtained at the information booth. Many exhibits are accessible by the handicapped, and a limited number of wheelchairs are available at the entrance.
Guide to Visiting
If you’re making a day of it, feel free to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the benches in the park, or grab a meal at the Zoo’s Dancing Crane Cafe, which features a variety of healthy meals, snacks, beverages and desserts. The Zoo is open daily, with extended hours in the warmer months, from April to November.
The Central Park Zoo is located next the southeast corner of the park (East 64th), and can easily be reached on foot, by car, or mass transit.