The Bronx Zoo, headquarters for the Wildlife Conservation Society, is the largest urban zoo in the United States. Its woods, streams and parklands encompass 265 acres. Within this enclave live more than 4,000 animals representing some 1,000 species.
Visitors view animals in spacious, naturalistic habitats. The Congo Gorilla Forest is a dramatic jungle walk through with glass walls that make the visitor wonder who is really on display—the animals or the visitor. The Bengali Express monorail carries visitors through two miles of the open-air Wild Asia exhibit where Siberian tigers, Asian elephants, Indian rhinoceroses and rare sika deer roam. The Zoo Shuttle and several camels offer other means of transportation.
The Himalayan Highland exhibit recreates the lofty terrain of snow leopards, white-naped cranes and other species. The Sea Lion Pool is a freshwater environment fabricated to look like a rocky California beach. The Baboon Reserve is a fascinating simulated archaeological dig tracing the evolution of gelada baboons. The Children’s Zoo is a fun place to pet tame creatures only too eager to be close to people-but don’t feed them! Here, youngsters can crawl through prairie dog tunnels, climb spiderwebs and listen to the call of the wild through simulated fox ears.
Rain or cold weather are no deterrent to several major interior exhibits including Jungle World, a tropical rain forest for Asian wildlife with waterfalls, ravines and exotic plants; the World of Darkness, home to dozens of nocturnal species; and the Reptile House, where crocodiles, snakes, turtles and a reptile nursery are on display. There’s also the Lion House, the Monkey House, the World of Birds, the Giraffe Building, the Aquatic Bird House, the Mouse House and more.
The Bronx Zoo opened in 1899. Since 1941, when its first naturalistic habitats appeared, it has been a major international attraction. It is the flagship and home office and research center of the Wildlife Conservation Society (originally the New York Zoological Society), which also operates the Queens Zoo, the Central Park Zoo, the Prospect Park Zoo, the New York Aquarium and the Wildlife Survival Center at St. Catherine’s Island, Georgia. The society oversees some 270 wildlife conservation projects in 52 nations and has helped establish 110 wildlife parks and reserves globally. The zoo shares Bronx Park with the New York Botanical Garden. With some planning both can be visited in the same day.
Meet animals up close while learning about the wonders of wildlife in one of the many seasonal programs offered for children, families and adults. For children ages 5 to 7, programs highlight animal patterns and coverings, birds and much more. Older children (ages 8 to 12) can register for the Animal Kingdom Camp summer adventure and other seasonal programs. The highly interactive family programs include the Family Overnight Safari. Guided tours and adult programs are also available.
Family Admission: Varies; call for catalogue. Tours offered in Spanish whenever possible
A wild adventure awaits groups at the Bronx Zoo. Tours for schools and other groups visit specific exhibits or focus on a particular theme (endangered species, predators, animal adaptation, etc.). The zoo’s award-winning education programs make it a living biology laboratory; the wide array of classes and materials for teachers and school groups ranges from Animals Near and Far for the youngest children to Survival Strategies for junior high and high school students. To receive a school services catalog, call (718) 220-5114.
Programs for Teachers
Not just for kids, the zoo also offers professional development programs for teachers, many of which give teachers the opportunity to earn graduate credit. Supplemental materials are provided to help teachers integrate life science topics into the school curriculum. Among the offerings are: Pablo Python Looks at Animals, which helps elementary school teachers bring life science to their classrooms; and Habitat Ecology Learning Program (HELP), which covers the ecology of rainforests, desserts, wetlands, grasslands and temperate forests, and links science to social studies, geography and language arts.
School Program Location: At facility only
School admission: Tours: regular admission plus $25 per group; programs: vary (include admission)