The New York Bronx Zoo, founded in 1899, is the largest metropolitan animal park in the world. Many people choose to keep their sightseeing to Manhattan during a New York City vacation, especially during a shorter stay. But no matter the length of your visit, the Bronx Zoo is consistently an excellent reason to take a New York City day trip north into the Bronx. Just ask the zoo’s two million annual visitors! These amazing animals don’t take a day off—the park is open 365 days a year (10-4:30 November through March, 10-5 April through October, 10-5:30 weekends and holidays during the summer).
The Bronx Zoo is an award-winning look at a wide variety of species (over 4,000 animals in all) in surprisingly natural settings. Boasting a packed calendar of events, the Bronx Zoo always has something going on for visitors and families. Run by the Wildlife Conservation Society (who also manage the Central Park and Queens zoos), visitors of the Bronx Zoo are made aware of ways they can be involved in saving wild animals and habitats throughout the world. Just visiting the zoo is one way—much of your admission fee will go toward protecting animals in the wild.
Prepare to spend an entire day, because the Bronx Zoo NY is an NYC-sized attraction that can’t be fully appreciated in just a couple of hours. The best tip one can give is to check the zoo’s website, www.bronxzoo.com, prior to your visit in order to take full advantage of the events offered on the day you plan to come to the zoo. In general, one of your best bets is to visit the Skyfari Zoo, a cable car attraction that is truly wild. The recently renovated Astor Court is also a highlight as the zoo’s peaceful Beaux Arts campus, complete with a gorgeous fountain and Italian Gardens.
Perhaps the highlight of the New York Bronx Zoo is the Wild Asia complex, which is a zoo within a zoo, complete with an education center, Jungle World, Asian forests, birds, and lizards. Don’t miss the Bengali Express Monorail, an exciting narrated ride above Siberian tigers, Asian Elephants, and Indian Rhinos. Keep your eyes peeled for the animals as you look out over an authentic Asian jungle right in New York City, truly one of the best interactions with nature to be found in New York, along with Niagara Falls and the Bronx Botanical Garden .
Another great part of the Bronx Zoo is the Himalayan Highlands, home to some very rare snow leopards, which are absolutely the pride of the Bronx Zoo NY staff.
In order to visit the Bronx Zoo from Manhattan, take the 2 train to the Pelham stop, then walk west to the Bronxdale entrance. For those with children, the zoo is more than welcoming to your cubs of all ages. The Children’s Zoo is open from April to October, and features fun, educational comparisons between kids and the animals they are learning about. A camel ride is also an unforgettable experience that the Bronx Zoo NY offers to kids.
As you plan your New York City vacation, keep in mind that the best time to visit the Bronx Zoo is on weekdays, on mild winter days, or during the early summer weeks. This strategy can help you avoid crowds to get the maximum amount of fun and education that the New York Bronx Zoo has to offer.
Top image: ikrichter (flickr)