Explore the Best Zoos in NYC
While New York City may be known as the Concrete Jungle, real jungle animals can be found in any of its five zoos or the aquarium in Coney Island. Located in each of the five boroughs, the zoos of New York each offer something different to their visitors.
The Bronx Zoo
is New York City’s most famous zoo and one of the largest in North America. With roughly 4,000 animals representing nearly 650 species over 265 acres, it can be difficult to see all in one day — but we certainly recommend trying!
For those with limited time frames, they recommend taking a two-hour tour of their most popular exhibits: Tiger Mountain, Himalayan Highlands, Congo Gorilla Forest, and World of Reptiles. In addition to general admission, they offer add-on experiences like the 4-D Theater, Bug Carousel, Penguin Feedings, and Sea Lion Feedings. Some exhibits are closed seasonally, so be sure to double check your itinerary before visiting.
The Prospect Park Zoo
is easily accessible via subway and open 365 days a year. Since the zoo is on the smaller side with 630 animals, visiting all of the attractions in a morning or afternoon trip is definitely possible. Don’t miss the Sea Lion Training Sessions
, which take place three times daily, and the Discovery Center
, featuring programs designed to create a lasting bond between younger visitors and animals of all kinds.
For a little surf and turf, check out the oldest continually operating aquarium in the U.S., the New York Aquarium
in Coney Island is a veritable historical institution. Though it’s small in size and still recovering from damage done by Hurricane Sandy, the friendly and knowledgeable staff are always willing to chat with and educate visitors.
The aquarium has indoor and outdoor features, like the Conservation Hall and outdoor Aquatheater for shows. A new permanent exhibit titled “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” is scheduled to open in 2017.
Inside, the Tisch Children’s Zoo offers even the youngest visitor the chance to pet and feed goats, pigs and sheep — it might be the only place in New York City where you will find a cow! Commemorate your experience with a photo underneath the iconic Tisch gates!
The Queens Wildlife Center
, built on the site of the 1964 World’s Fair, features cageless designs for animal habitats. On the larger end of the spectrum of the New York zoos at 75 acres, the center focuses exclusively on species that are native to the Americas — it’s the only zoo in NYC to house Andean Bears
, which are black bears with white markings on their faces. There aren’t any dining facilities, so pack a lunch and take advantage of their picnic area.
When the Staten Island Zoo
first opened the 1930s, its focus was on reptiles. While the variety of animals has broadened over the years, its rattlesnake collection remains one of the largest in North America. Featuring over 440 animals including monkeys, ocelots, birds, otters and prairie dogs, the Staten Island Zoo also has an aquarium and children’s area.
Sticking to its roots, the extensive reptilian collection definitely warrants a visit, but if scaly things make you squirm, you can also visit “Staten Island Chuck,” the official groundhog of NYC’s Groundhog Day.
After a long day, head back to Affinia, your family-friendly hotel in nyc and spread out and relax in a spacious suite!
(Image credits: Wally Gobetz/flickr; Jeffrey/flickr; Lou Bueno/flickr; Sergey Shpakovky/flickr; Wally Gobetz/flickr; Samantha Chapnick/flickr; Garrett Ziegler/flickr)