Is Central Park Zoo the Best Zoo in New York?


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Located within the south-eastern end of Central Park, at 64th Street and 5th Avenue, this quaint 6.5 acre zoo dates back to the 1800s. After talking about it for months, and wondering if Central Park Zoo is the best zoo in New York, finally the day came to take little man to THE zoo from Madagascar – Central Zoo Park as he had been calling it! A sweltering 33 degree Celsius day awaited us, and didn’t we know it after half an hour’s walk through Central Park to the front gate of the zoo.

We’d bought our tickets online the morning of our visit, saving 10%, so there was no queuing at the entrance – a quick scan of our mobile tickets and we were in. Turning right, we were greeted by the sea lions sunning themselves in and around their pool and playing up to the crowds. We’d arrived just in time for the keeper’s talk, so they were obviously anticipating ‘fish treat time’!

You could be forgiven for forgetting you were even in New York while at the zoo, but the backdrop of buildings, as you walked around the pool to the Arctic Circle display, was a quick reminder where you really were. It was nice to see the penguins and puffins so close up underwater in the ‘Arctic Circle’ and it also had the added benefit of some luscious cold air – yes, we went in more than once on that sweltering day!

Unfortunately, the snow leopards were nowhere to be seen and we found the grizzly bear fast asleep, but on such a hot day who could blame them for hiding and snoozing? The same applied for the red pandas and the snow monkeys in the Temperate Zone – nowhere to be seen. After being a tad disappointed at missing three of the main mammals, the Tropic Zone was a great place to spot lots of free-flying birds. It really was tropical too – we were wet through when we left there. Delightful!

With its entrance just next to the famous Delacorte Clock, which is great to watch when it chimes on the hour and the animals move to music, the zoo’s 4D experience was the Ice Age: No Time for Nuts film, and was actually a great little watch, our red glasses obviously being the highlight. 😉


Tisch Childrens’ Zoo

Statue at the entrance of Tisch Childrens' Zoo, Central Park Zoo, New York

After talking virtually all day about wanting to see the pigs (who knows what goes on in a toddler’s head), we finally got to the Tisch Childrens’ Zoo, spotted the pigs and little man wanted nothing to do with them, instead wanting to cuddle a pig statue instead! Again, it was a little small, just like the main zoo, but had a few farm animals which you could buy bags of feed for. There’s also a few little statues where you can take pics of the kids (or big kids) inside a turtle shell or pretending to be bunny rabbits, (oh, those pictures will surface at some point!).

Although a tad disappointed that most of the Madagascar cast were not in residence (we did try and warn him), within five minutes of leaving the zoo, little man was fast asleep in his pram, exhausted, and stayed solid for about two hours. He had a great morning running around the zoo and, actually, so did we. 

Tips for visiting Central Park Zoo

  • Visiting in hot weather? Don’t pay for water. There are water fountains dotted around all over the zoo, some are harder to spot than others though.
  • Do pay the extra for the petting zoo and 4D cinema. It’s worth a few dollars to extend your day out, as the zoo really is quite small.
  • Not sure older kids would be occupied for long, but if you’ve got little ones, they should love it all. For older kids, I’d suggest heading to the Bronx Zoo instead.
  • At time of writing, save 10% of the entrance price by buying online. We did this an hour before we went, so you don’t have to do it days in advance like other places. All purchases give you instant access, just show your phone.
  • It’s not a full day out and you can visit easily within a few hours, so you can definitely plan other activities for the day too
  • Here’s a couple of links to the history of the zoo. Worth having a read before you go, as it can make it more interesting for yourself and any older children:
  • www.centralparkhistory.com/timeline/timeline_1870_zoo.html
  • www.nycgovparks.org/about/history/zoos/central-park-zoo

If you want learn more about the history of Central Park Zoo before you visit, this book should do the trick. (Coming soon)


So, is Central Park Zoo the Best Zoo in New York?

In summary, if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of New York with young kids, it’s definitely worth a visit. For little kids, it’s definitely the best zoo in New York! 

If you’d like to visit the zoo, you can book online and find further information on their website by clicking here.


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