The Bronx Zoo
2300 Southern Boulevard
The Bronx, NY 10460
Open: Monday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm/Saturday & Sunday 10:00am-5:30pm
Fee: Members Free/Adults-Full Experience $39.95/Senior Full Experience $34.99/Child (3-12) $29.99/Child (under 3) Free
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review on TripAdvisor for the “Holiday Lights Festival”:
I have been coming to the Bronx Zoo since I was five years old and I never really thought it changed that much over the years. I recently went to a Private Members Night last Fall (See Day One Hundred and in MywalkinManhattan.com) and realized that I had not been there since they opened the Congo Gorilla Forest exhibition and that was in the late 90’s. I had not been in the zoo for over twenty years. A lot has changed since I visited back in 1997. A lot of new exhibitions have opened and renovations made.
My blog on the Private Members Night at the Bronx Zoo on MywalkinManhattan.com:
The Zoo covers about 265 acres of the park in the middle of The Bronx. I took the time to walk all through the park and visiting all the exhibitions, riding on the train and on the monorail system looking over all the animals in their natural habitats set up by the zoo.
I revisited the Congo Gorilla Forest, the Worlds of Birds and Reptiles, exploring the African Plains that I rode past on the monorail system and walked through Jungle World. I really got to visit the park in more detail than I ever had before.
The one thing I really liked about the Zoo was I had never noticed the architecture of the buildings and fountains that I had passed when I was younger and had a real appreciation for them. Most had been around the turn of the last century when the philosophy of looking at animals was different. The graceful stone buildings have beautiful animal carvings all over them.
The best part was since it was a rather gloomy night out there were not that many members in the zoo so I got to ride the rides and walk through the Tree Top Maze with crowds behind me rushing the experience.
I finished the evening visiting the new Dinosaur exhibition and that was creepy. There were dinosaur replications hiding in the woods making sounds and looking at you as you passed. It had been a very popular exhibition that summer.
For dinner that evening, I enjoyed the Dancing Crane Cafe, the main restaurant in the zoo. I was impressed that the food was really good. It was mostly kid staples like pizza and chicken fingers but everything was really fresh and everything was cooked for us. I had the Chicken Fingers with French Fries and it was a nice sized portion. The chicken was a generous portion that was almost a whole breast. The restaurant is pricey but every once in a while it is a treat.
I looked over the zoo with a fresh pair of eyes without the throngs of visitors that you normally see there. I enjoyed looking over the animals in a more natural habitat that a lot of zoos don’t offer.
Recently the Zoo has brought back the “Festival of Lights” event for the holidays. I was able to attend the last night of the event on a Sunday night and it was pretty special. In the era of COVID, it really cheered me up. Almost all of the Zoo was decorated with lights and there was Christmas music playing the whole night. Even though the holidays had passed it still put me back into the mood.
The nautical display at the Bronx Zoo “Holiday Lights”
All the trees were adorned with white lights and each of the sections of the park were decorated with a theme. There were elephants wondering through the paths, seals and penguins swimming through their displays and all sorts of tinkling snowmen and animals like bears, lions, tigers and giraffes lining the paths.
The seal lights lined the penguin and nautical areas
The nicest section that I almost missed was the musical Christmas tree in the old section of the park and the zebras on stilts. The original section of the park was decorated with multiple lights with contemporary Christmas music playing in the background. There were birds flying, reindeer being chased and seals leading the way for other animals.
The musical Christmas tree in the old section of the Zoo
I was finally able to ride the Bug Carousel which was a little hokey but a lot of fun. I could see why the kids like it so much. There were plenty of adults who were also enjoying the complimentary ride. There was ice sculpture demonstrations, comics performing and the all of the food outlets and gift shops were open to a somewhat limited crowd. We had timed tickets so the crowd was rather small for such a big events.
I got there by 6:15pm and the park display was open until 9:30pm. By the time I left for the evening at 9:00pm, the park crowd had really thinned out and there were very few people walking around. Still it was nice to walk around and feel I had the whole park to myself. It was getting cool that evening but still a nice night to walk around. I will have to remember this for next year.
The History of The Bronx Zoo:
In 1895, a group made up of members of the Boone and Crockett Club founded the New York Zoological Society with the purpose of founding the zoo. The architectural team of Heins & LaFarge designed the original permanent buildings as a series of Beaux-Arts pavilions grouped around the sea lion pool.
The Rockefeller Fountain was bought to the park in 1902 from another part of the park. It had been built in 1872 and was moved to the front of the zoo by the Rockefeller family and is now surrounded by a series of gardens as you enter the park from the parking lot.
When the zoo opened, it featured 843 animals in twenty-two exhibitions around the park. The zoo has been home to many exotic animals many being the first of their kind in a zoo. At various times in its history, the park has featured Komodo Dragons, Andean flamingos and a Sumatran rhinoceros.
Today the park is run by the Wildlife Conservation Society and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The main exhibitions are the Congo Gorilla Forest, Jungle World, the Wild Asia Monorail, Madagascar!, Tiger Mountain, the African Plains, the World of Birds, the World of Reptiles and the Zoo Center. There are also various restaurants and snack shops throughout the park (that were closed the evening I went there), a carousel and a playground.
(This information on the park comes from Zoo history and Wiki)