The Prospect Park Zoo
450 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225
My review on TripAdvisor:
The Prospect Park Zoo is one of my ‘go to’ places along with the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when visiting Brooklyn. The three popular destinations are all in the same neighborhood and if you have a full day is worth the subway ride from Manhattan to visit.
On a nice day, the best place to start is the Brooklyn Botanical Garden at opening, then head over through the back part of the garden to Prospect Park and walk to the entrance near Flatbush Avenue and go past the carousel and enter the Zoo past the old Leffert’s Homestead. The Zoo is just past that.
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review of the Leffert’s Homestead on VisitingaMuseum.com:
The best part of the Prospect Park Zoo is that like the Central Park Zoo it is small enough to see in one day and be able to enjoy the exhibitions in one afternoon and still have time for lunch.
The main focus of the zoo when you walk through the gates is the seal tanks. These playful animals spend most of their time swimming around or sunning themselves on a warm day. During the feeding schedule, it is interesting to see how they interact with the trainers.
Walking further into the zoo you will walk past the Hall of Animals, where all the smaller animals and amphibians like frogs, snakes and turtles are located. These are a lot of fun for the smaller children who may not see these things in their backyards or even in the parks anymore.
Beyond that is the Barn, where your horses and cows are located and they even have a pair of turkeys, which makes for interesting conversation for children who wonder where they come from at Thanksgiving. The turkeys here are more bred than the wild ones you will see in the woods.
Next to the Hall of Animals is the Animal Lifestyle exhibition where a lot of the gorillas and monkeys are located. It is funny to watch their mannerisms and see ourselves and out behaviors in them. I guess a couple of thousand years never really separated us that much and we still are a lot alike.
From there you will take the Discovery Trail to see more familiar animals that you might see in every day nature such as deer, foxes, porcupines, ducks and geese in a more natural habitat where they can roam free. The space is limited but they look a lot happy to move around than some of the other animals.
All trails lead back to the Seal Tanks where the popular feeding time gathers a crowd and you will see the care that many of the trainers and zoo keepers give to their residents. There is a lot of love for these animals that is given and I can see a lot of respect.
A trip to the snack shop and gift shops at the zoo are expensive and cater to the tourists. They are not as nicely merchandised as the Bronx Zoo or the Central Park Zoo. Still they are fun to visit once or twice.
The Prospect Park Zoo is still a nice afternoon out for families and a nice way to communicate with nature.
The History of the Prospect Park Zoo:
The Prospect Park Zoo is a 12 acre zoo located in Prospect Park, Brooklyn and as of 2016 houses 864 animals. The zoo was originally part of the plan of Prospect Park as a “Zoological Garden” in the western part of the park. The zoo was not part of the finished plan in the park in 1874 by designers Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.
The park design included a Wild Fowl Pond in the northern part of the park that was stop off for water birds and a Deer Paddock in the southern part of the zoo where deer lived in a penned area.
In the 1890’s, gardens were created for park enjoyment and a informal Menagerie was created by the Brooklyn Parks Commission, George V. Brower, when the donation of small bear, white deer, seven seals, a cow and twelve peacocks came into the possession of the park.
In 1934, Parks Department head Robert Moses set a plan to reconstruct the City’s Parks and under the Works Progress Administration started to revamp the park system. In March of that year architect Aymar Embury II set to design the new zoo with six new buildings and centered by a Seal Pool.
By the 1970’s, the zoo faced disrepair and was neglect for the animals. It was considered one of the worst zoo’s in the country according to the press and finally in 1980, the Koch Administration signed a 50 year agreement with the NY Zoological Society, now called the Wildlife Conservation Society, which was also administrating the Central Park and Queens Zoo.
The park closed in 1988 for a five year, 37 million dollar renovation that gutted all the pits and cages but saved the historic buildings and statuary. The new zoo opened in 1993 with a new name, “The Prospect Park Wildlife Conservation Center” and a philosophy of educating children. The zoo along with the Queens Zoo have had some shortfalls in the past but have the full support of the Society and the public since the early 2000’s. Still the zoo remains popular with families from all over Brooklyn and the world.
(This information is provided by Wiki and the Wildlife Conservatory website and I give them both full credit for the information)