Central Park Zoo
Fifth Avenue and East 64th Street
New York, NY 10021
Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-4:30pm
Fee: Adults $12.00/Seniors (65+) $10.00/Children (3-12)$8.00/Total Experience Adults $16.00/Seniors (65+) $15.00/Children (3-12) $12.00
My review on TripAdvisor:
I love coming to the Central Park Zoo when I am visiting the Upper East Side. The zoo is a nice to just relax and reflect from the hustle and bustle of the City. On a quiet midweek day, there is nothing like going to the 2:00pm seal feeding at all times of the year. The seals get so excited and the humans like seeing the seals in their playful mood.
The zoo is small so touring it will only take about an hour or so to see all the exhibitions. You have a choice of seeing the monkeys, the birds, the seals and the penguins. They finally moved the polar bear out of the zoo a few years ago and he always looked so bored with his life. He would give you a look like ‘get me out of here’.
The smaller animals like the monkeys and the penguins look like they are having more fun in their enclosed homes with more room to move around. They always look at us as visitors in an amusing way like why are we so interested in them. It is an interesting interaction with the animals there to see their reaction to us.
There is also more birds, amphibians and bats to see in other exhibitions around the zoo and smaller outside areas to view the smaller animals such as pandas and leopards that have finally been given space to roam around.
There is also a nice gift shop just outside the zoo and the Dancing Crane Cafe is the zoo restaurant which is over-priced and the food the few times I have tried it was mediocre. It is not like the cafe up at the Bronx Zoo that was pretty decent.
Don’t miss the hourly concert at Delacorte Clock when the animal sculptures dance to the music played. It is such an enjoyable experience.
History of the Zoo:
The Zoo was not originally part of the layout for Central Park when designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux. A small menagerie developed on the edge of the park with exotic animals that had been donated to the park starting with a bear cub tied to a tree in 1859 and a monkey in 1860. Other animals came later including cranes, a peacock and a goldfish.
In 1860, the American Zoological and Botanical Society wanted to create a zoo somewhere in New York City. In 1864, the zoo received a formal charter, making it the second publicly owned zoo behind the Philadelphia Zoo. Though a formal zoo had not yet been created, the menagerie, with its free admission and good location made it the most popular attraction in Central Park.
By the 1930’s, the menagerie had become run down and was not sufficient to hold the animals. In 1834, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia hired Robert Moses to head the unified Parks Department and a new more formal zoo was created. The new zoo was opened on December 2nd, 1934 and by 1936 over six million people had visited the zoo.
By 1967, the zoo was again falling apart due to years of negligence and budget cuts. New York City’s fiscal crisis had affected the Parks System and conditions had gone downhill. In 1980, The Wildlife Conservatory (the former NY Zoological Society) signed a fifty year agreement in April of that year and started a renovation of the zoo from 1982 to its opening in 1988.
When the Zoo opened in August of 1988, the concept of the zoo had changed. The Wildlife Conservation Society had taken over the Queens Zoo, the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn and already had possession of the Bronx Zoo and the direction of the society was toward conservation and care of animals while the Prospect Zoo was to be used as a Children’s Zoo and the Queens Zoo would concentrate on North American animals. The Children’s Zoo next to the Central Park Zoo went through its own renovation in the late 1990’s and is now called the Tisch Children’s Zoo after businessman, Laurence Tisch who had donated most of the money for the renovation.
(This information was taken from both Wiki and the Central Park Zoo History)