Renovated at a cost of $36 million by the City of New York and the Wildlife Conservation Society, the once rundown Prospect Park Zoo is now a state-of-the-art wildlife center housing nearly 100 species of animals and many interactive exhibits. Specially designed for children, but with something to offer animal enthusiasts of all ages, the 12-acre facility has three major areas that provide close-up views of animals including North American River otters, red pandas, swans, a toucan, piranhas and baboons (a main attraction).
The outdoor Discover Trail; a walk-through aviary; Kangaroo and Wallaby Walkabout, home to several Australian favorites; a well-stocked drawing center near some of the exhibits; and a prairie dog town are special attractions. Also popular is the marsh, which features child-size goose eggs that provide cozy resting spots, as well as huge lily pads.
In addition to informal tours, for which reservations are necessary, the Prospect Park Zoo offers a wide variety of classes and workshops. Bedtime stories and child/caregiver activities are available for the very young. Animal-themed workshops and a host of sessions on the animals who live at the zoo are geared toward children ages 5 to 12. Children ages 8 to 13 (with an adult) can find out what comes out at the zoo after the sun goes down when they spend a night in the zoo's overnight program, offered on several weekends during the year. Family Days, held on various weekends throughout the year, feature informal activities designed for families. Special vacation programs, such as Winter Break Week and Summer Wildlife Weeks, offer different activities each day of a holiday or vacation. Private birthday parties can be arranged for children ages 4 to 11.
Family Admission: Varies
The Prospect Park Zoo offers a variety of classes that are tailored for specific grade levels. Subjects include homes and the animals who build them, predator/prey relationships, the many layers of a marsh pond and the wildlife that depends on it, and the destruction of tropical rainforests.
School Program Location: At facility only
School Admission: March-Oct: $100 per class; Nov-Feb: $50 per class (includes admission to Wildlife Center); extra adults: $2.50 at gate