The Bronx is rarely thought of as the home to thousands of rare or endangered animals, but the 265 acre Bronx Zoo, which houses over 600 species and 4,000 animals, is just that. From the not so tiny hissing cockroaches of Madagascar to the 1,000 pound Polar Bear of the Arctic, the Bronx Zoo has something for everyone.
As you walk along the paths through the park, you can expect to come across Bison, Bears, Lions, Giraffes, African Wild dogs, a variety of deer, Birds of Prey, and more. There are many places throughout the Bronx Zoo to sit down and eat, and in addition to pigeons and squirrels looking for scraps, you might also get a visit from a wandering peacock. The sea lions in Zoo center are always a big hit, and you can watch them get fed twice a day, usually around 11am and 3pm. The Children’s zoo, which is open seasonally, has interactive exhibits, a play area with an awesome tree slide and climbable spider web, as well as a petting/feeding zoo.
Even if the weather isn’t the greatest, there are plenty of indoor exhibits at the Bronx Zoo. The world of Birds, Mouse house, and Madagascar all offer indoor viewing opportunities .At the reptile house you can see a variety of reptiles and amphibians, from Giant Reticulated Pythons, Snapping Turtles, and Crocodilians to the tiny Kihansi Spray toad, which is extinct in the wild.
Jungle world is another indoor exhibit at the Bronx Zoo, and as soon as you open the doors the sights, sounds and humidity of the jungle make you feel like you stepped into another world. Monkeys, Otters, Tapirs, Leopards, and stick insects all call jungle world home.
Although there is a lot to see and do at the zoo, there are more animals and projects going on behind the scenes. The Wildlife Conservation Society, who run the Bronx, Central Park, Queens, and Prospect Park Zoos, as well as the NY Aquarium, is a 115 year old organization dedicated to protecting wildlife and habitats around the world. In addition to operating its 5 NYC Parks, WCS employs over 200 scientists, manages over 200 million acres of protected land, and has about 500 conservation projects going on in over 60 different countries. Many of the Bison that now roam the west are descendants of one WCS’s earliest conservation efforts. So this zoo is more than just a collection of animals, it’s the headquarters of the largest conservation effort on the planet.
The Bronx Zoo is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Martin Luther King day. In the winter the park stays open from 10am-4:30pm, and some of the exhibits (Children’s Zoo, Monorail) and restaurants are closed. In the summer, the Park stays open until 5pm during the week, and 5:30 on the weekends. As of this writing (November 2010) Admission is $16 for adults, and $12 for children. Parking is $13 for cars. A WCS membership, which starts at $79, gets you free parking passes and admission to the park and all special attractions, can pay for itself in one visit. Wednesday is donation day. This means that there is a suggested donation, but technically you can get in for free. This also means that a lot of people visit the park on Wednesdays, so if you want to avoid the crowd you might not want to go that day.