Tag: Van Saun Park

The Bergen County Zoo in Van Saun Park          216 Forest Avenue                                       Paramus, New Jersey 07652

The Bergen County Zoo in Van Saun Park 216 Forest Avenue Paramus, New Jersey 07652

The Bergen County Zoo in Van Saun Park

216 Forest Avenue

Paramus, NJ  07652

(201) 634-3100


Open: Sunday-Saturday-10:00am-4:30pm/Please check the website during the off seasons

Fee: Bergen County Resident: $4.00 Adults/$2.00 Child/$1.00 Seniors/Child under 3 Free/Non-Bergen County Resident $8.00 Adult/$5.00 Child/$2.00 Seniors-Disabled/Children under 3 and Active Military free

TripAdvisor Review:


The Bergen County Zoo has been enjoyed by thousands of people over the years and has many fans. Every season, hundreds of families walk through the doors of the zoo to enjoy the afternoon out, visit the animals and ride the train around the park. What started as a duck pond and reserve in Van Saun Park in the 1960’s has morphed over time to the current zoo.

Bergen County Zoo III

The 1980’s saw a tremendous change in the animal collection. The first birth of an endangered species in our zoo’s history occurred in 1982 with the birth of a Brown Lemur. Numerous species, many endangered were added including Ocelots, Red Brocket Deer, Mountain Lions and Snowy Owls among others. Births of Ocelots, Brocket Deer and Spider Monkeys occurred throughout the second half of the 80’s .

Bergen County Zoo II

The Zoo Map

As the zoo moved through the 1990’s,  many changes continued to occur. The zoo’s commitment to wildlife conservation strengthened  and more endangered species were added to the collection including Andean Condors, Golden Lion Tamarins, Goeldi’s Monkeys and Galapagos Tortoises.

Bergen County Zoo IV

The Train that goes around the zoo

Additional areas were renovated, providing exciting opportunities for our visitors to view and learn about many new species. Major projects completed in the 1990’s area as follows:


Mountain Lion Exhibit (completed 4/90)

North American Plains Exhibit (completed 10/92)

Master Plan (completed 06/93)

Bergen Dutch Farmyard (completed 10/94)

South American Exhibit Areas (completed 10/96)

Zoo Entry Complex (completed 08/99)

Efforts to secure alternative funding sources became fruitful in the 1990’s with over $200,000 in federal grants received. In addition, local businesses and corporations increased their support of various zoo activities through cash and in-kind contributions.

Additionally a new entry complex was developed including new ticketing facilities, a new train station, gift shop and entry plaza. New and exciting special events were also developed including Holiday Lights and Zoo Boo, the most heavily attended event in zoo history. Educational programming was significantly re-developed, providing opportunities for our area residents to explore the zoo and learn about wildlife in new and innovative ways.

Another significant milestone for the zoo was the development of a comprehensive master plan. This planning tool was created to identify the future needs of the zoo and its visitors as well as provide an organized and orderly schedule of development.

As the 21st Century began, zoo development continued to advance. Several major projects were undertaken including a new state-of-art Animal Care Center, an Outdoor Demonstration Area for public programming and an Education/Discovery Center. All of these projects enhance the experience of our visitors, while furthering the zoo’s mission of wildlife conservation and public education.

Bergen County Zoo V

Additionally, the zoo took a major step in support of conservation by establishing an annual field conservation grant program. The program provides financial support to researchers conducting field work in North and South America. Also, the zoo’s original master plan was formally revisited and determined to be no longer effective. As a result, a new plan was developed to assist the zoo in its development strategies over the next 20 years.

In 2007, we moved forward with a Coati exhibition replicating an abandoned adobe. To address the needs of our keepers, we built a holding facility in 2008 for our alligators at their exhibit, therefore eliminating annual roundup of alligators. With the decline in the economy, the zoo has directly been affected. Funds for construction of new exhibits have been put on hold and fixing existing structures is taking priority. A new Neotropical songbird exhibit opened in 2009, adding new birds to our collection. A larger guanaco exhibit was built at the far end of the zoo utilizing empty pasture space in 2010. In 2011, we had some dramatic effects caused by severe weather and significant personal changes, including the resignation of our zoo director of over 30 years, a change in the board of the Friends of the Bergen County Zoo Inc. and a new director of parks. So we start another chapter in our history.

In the last five years, the zoo has had many changes. New Tamarin exhibit was constructed in 2013, two buildings constructed to replace the single outdated structure. Replacement of one of our bridges in the zoo, a wood bridge was replaced with a wider concrete bridge with decorative railings and new light posts. The removal of our seasonal outdoor exhibit support structure in 2015 so we can prepare for an interactive barn which will be open all year round by the end of 2017. In 2015,  one of the best features we added was the new overflow parking lot. This lot will vastly improve our visitors parking experience as it replaces our old overflow parking,  which was a muddy field with many walking hazards.

Also, 2015 was milestone year marking 25 years as an Accredited Institution of the AZA, for a small zoo this is truly an accomplishment. In light of this, in 2016 a new Master Plan was developed with Jones & Jones and new county administration so we have a new direction for future projects. This plan includes the construction of a new prairie dog exhibit and bison & elk viewing area (to open in the spring of 2017). This will provide more opportunities for schools and our education department to conduct classes related to our exhibits of eagles, prairie dogs and the bison & elk.

(This annotated history of the Bergen County Zoo was provided by the staff of the zoo).

The Bergen County Zoo is an accredited member of The Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Beginning with November 1st, the Bergen County Zoo will be free of admission. The weather during the late fall and winter months does not allow for the majority of the animal collection to be view able to the public (see the above Animal Collection link for further details). Admission to the zoo will resume in May of 2017-forms of payment are cash and credit only. The admission fee schedule is listed below. Please note that in order to receive BC Resident rates, proof of residency is required at the admission ticket window.


In July and August, live animal shows are held daily in our outdoor amphitheater, which is located behind the Tamarin Exhibit. Shows are free with zoo admission and seating is first-come, first-served. Daily shows with time frames can be seen as you enter the zoo.


Cost: $1.50 (cash only)

The train and carousel operate from mid-April to mid-November (approximately). Hours are typically from 10:00am-5:00pm unless otherwise specified (weather permitted) with the last ticket being sold at 4:30pm and the last ride at 4:45pm.

Schedule for the train and the carousel, for the week of June 11th-June 17th are as follows:

Train: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Carousel: Sunday, Tuesday (opens at 1:00pm), Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Pony Rides:

The Pony Ride concession operates from April through October. Currently, the vendor is Ironside Farms, they can be reached at (201) 835-0932.

Disclaimer: this information was directly from the Bergen County Parks Site and can change at any time. Please call the zoo for more information.

The Washington Spring: A Bergen County Historic Site                                                           216 Forest Avenue                                      Paramus, NJ 07652

The Washington Spring: A Bergen County Historic Site 216 Forest Avenue Paramus, NJ 07652

The Washington Spring: A Bergen County, NJ Historic Site

Van Saun County Park

216 Forest Avenue

Paramus/River Edge, NJ 07652


Open: Please check the website for the seasonality of the park

*Located in Van Saun Park at the entrance.

My review on TripAdvisor:


The Washington Spring, a 1/2 area within Van Saun County Park, is associated with General George Washington and the movement of his Continental Army through this area of Bergen County during the Revolutionary War.

Washington Spring.jpg

History of the Washington Spring:

The hollow between hills known as “Slukup” until it was changed to the more pleasant-sounding “Spring Valley” in 1832. In the Dutch Frisan language “slukup” described a boggy area. The local Banta family was from Friesland in northern Holland and one of the area’s earliest settlers. Natural springs feed the streams in this area that flow through Van Saun  Pond and eventually into the Hackensack River. The park’s land was part of 300 acres owned by Albert Zabriske in 1686. In 1695, he sold 224 acres to Jacob Van Saun of New York City.

The road to Slukup, now Howland Avenue, served as the border between Jacob Van Saun’s farm to the south and son-in-law Christian Dederer’s farm to the north. Hendrick C. Banta, who owned a cider mill in the Steenrapie area (River Edge), lived west of the Mill Creek that flows through the park.

On September 4, 1780, General Washington moved the troops of the Continental army, numbering approximately 14,000 into a strategic encampment west of the Hackensack River between New Bridge in the south and Kinderkamack to the north in Steenrapie. They were part of the defense to challenge the British military stronghold on Manhattan and prevent any intervention with the landing of allied French troops in Rhode Island. Hendrick Banta reportedly sold a barrel of cider to these troops “every other day”. His 10 year old son, Cornelius, reportedly saw General Washington on his horse three times. During one of these sightings the General was watering his horse at the spring, giving rise to the name “Washington Spring”.

Washington Spring, Van Saun Park

On September 17th, General Washington, General Knox and the Marquis de Lafayette, who was headquartered at the northern end of the encampment in the area known as “Soldier Hill” in Oradell, left for Hartford, Connecticut to meet the recently arrived French commanding officers. The rest of the Continental Army decamped on September 20th.

The Bergen County Park Commission was created in November 1946 and in 1987 because the Division of Parks. Recreation and Cultural Affairs. Van Saun Park, whose 140 acres include Washington Spring, was created in 1957. Also, within the park is the Bergen Zoological Park, that opened in 1960. Open year round during park hours and is surrounded by accessible pathways.

Washington Spring II

Explore the Pathways into the Springs


The Spring area, which is right off the parking lot leading to the zoo, is beautifully landscaped with benches, pathways and flowering plants like azaleas, rhododendrons and flowering trees. In the early spring, the look around the Spring is quite colorful and picturesque. It is a nice way to spend the afternoon, walking quietly around the paths and see where the General once watered his horse. The entrance of the Spring is under plants but becomes a stream further down. Another part of the great history of Revolutionary War and the part New Jersey played in winning the war.

*Disclaimer: this information is taken directly from the Bergen County Division of Cultural & Historic Affairs pamphlet. The Spring is part of Van Saun Park as you drive in and watch for the signs. It really is a beautifully landscaped part of the park and its historical influence in the war should not be missed. (2015 Bergen County division of Cultural and Historic Affairs.  The Bergen County Division of Cultural & Historic Affairs received an operating grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.