With a zoo as popular and famous as the Bronx zoo mere miles away, The Central Park Zoo often gets treated as a second rate zoo. Before my first visit, I was led to believe as much was true. Low expectations were probably a factor in what was ultimately, a very enjoyable experience.
The entrance to the zoo is located on 5th Avenue, just sound of 65th street. Parking close can be a little difficult, or expensive, but once that has been taken care of, the zoo itself is extremely easy to get to, and hard to miss. Tickets are purchased at the ticket counter for ten dollars for an adult. Then they need to be given to the ticket taker when entering. Even on a busy weekend, this went relatively quickly, and was certainly easy enough.
The number of exhibits does not approach other zoos, but the quality of these exhibits is there. Wether looking for avian or simians, tourists are treated to a variety of animals. On the day of my visit, the animals were plenty active, entertaining all guests, and looking quite happy while doing so. One of the highlight exhibits would be the polar bear display. These are magnificent creatures, and their potential viciousness was viewable at freakishly close distances. Another highlight would be the lemurs. These long tailed creatures were constantly crawling about and leaping from rope to rope, to branch, to walls. The California Sea Lions were located at the center of the zoo, and are a must see on any visit.
On our visit, we happened to be traveling with a young child, who certainly enjoyed the main part of the zoo, but also gave us reason to check out the children’s zoo. This was accessible at no extra cost, and was an easy walk from the main zoo. The Children’s Zoo was mostly a petting zoo, but had some other interesting displays, and animals that you just don’t see every day. The highlight here was the Alpaca display. They were mixed in with other animals who hogged a lot of the attention from the nearby visitors, but the alpacas stood guard, looking somehow regal, standing above the other animals around them.
I would be hard pressed to say that The Central Park Zoo is worth a long ride to the city. However, if you’re going to be here anyway, and it sounds like the sort of thing you might like to do for a couple of hours, it is certainly worth the time and money you would spend exploring the premises.