The Central Park Zoo may be small, but it’s always a fun visit. We went most recently on Christmas Day (New York City zoos are always open on Christmas, if you’re ever looking for something outdoors to do over the holidays), but it’s a great place to go on any occasion. In fact, I recommend going to any of the zoos during cooler winter weather. The zoos are less crowded, and the animals tend to be more active in cold weather. And if you get cold, there are always indoor exhibits to go into and warm yourself up.
Every time I go to the zoo, it’s a different experience. That’s one of the great things about the animals. I’ll notice something different about them each time, which is one of the reasons why a good zoo, which takes care of its animals, can promote public awareness about wildlife conservation.
One of the first exhibits you will come to is the outdoor sea lion pool. On this visit, the sea lions were swimming, but I was fortunate that one kept poking his head up out of the water near me every time he swam by.
After touring the Penguin and Sea Bird House, we walked by the harbor seals and on to the grizzly bears’ enclosure. (The penguins are entertaining, but the low light and wet glass don’t make for good photos.) It was nap time, but the bears were still on view.
The zoo has beautiful snow leopards, but like most cats (large and small) they weren’t very cooperative for photographs. We saw them both though, although it took some effort! Can you find one in this photo?
My favorite of all of the Central Park Zoo animals are the red pandas. One was sleepy and tucked himself up in a tree, but the other one was mischievous-looking and very active.
There are other animals at the Central Park Zoo as well, but my final stop on every visit – another favorite – is the Tropic Zone. The building holds several types of animals, but for me the best part is the birds, which fly freely inside the main room of the building. A boardwalk wanders throughout the lush environment of a rainforest, with steps winding up through the canopy of the trees. Sometimes a bird will land on a railing next to visitors, and there are always colorful exotic birds to admire throughout the walk.
If you visit the Central Park Zoo with children, you can also the Tisch Children’s Zoo next door. The Children’s Zoo is host to domesticated farm animals and has plenty of places for children to play (and, as the zoo website claims, is home to the only cow in Manhattan!).
The Central Park Zoo is easily accessed by public transportation. If traveling by bus, the M1, M2, M3, and M4 buses all have stops close to the Central Park Zoo (if going North, on Madison Avenue; if going South, on Fifth Avenue). It’s also not a far walk from the subway. Take the R train to the 5th Avenue/59th Street station, the F train to the Lexington Avenue/63rd Street station, or the 6 train to 68th Street/Hunter College.