During most seasons throughout the year, there are days where I fancy myself a sort of crossbreed between a city-dweller and a nature-lover. Don’t get me wrong, I rarely allow people to drag me into the deep wilderness, mostly because I have irrational fears of most insects, but I do like the concept of hiking and exotic animals. It is for this reason that Central Park is one of my favorite places to visit in New York City.
Because of the amount of attractions and things that one can find when wandering around the park, I will not even attempt to fit all that I love about New York City’s own slice of nature into one post, mostly to allow myself extra space to ramble about my favorite locations, starting with the Central Park Zoo.
The Central Park Zoo is one of five parks, including the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo, that belong to the Wildlife Conservation Society. Since 1895, the WCS has been working to save wildlife and wild places across the globe, and uses their New York City parks to educate visitors about the importance of their projects.
Central Park’s own WCS zoo can be spotted while walking along Fifth Avenue around East 64th street near the southeast corner of Central Park, and is open from 10:00AM until 5:30PM daily during the summer. For an $18.00 “Total Experience” Ticket, an adult gains access to the Main Zoo, the adjoining Tisch Children’s Zoo, and one admission to the 4-D theatre, which currently shows Planet Earth: Ice Worlds and Dora & Diego’s 4-D Adventure in rotation, with children’s tickets costing $13.00 and senior citizens gaining access for $15.00. For those wishing to skip the 4-D shows, tickets cost $12.00, $7.00, and $9.00 for adults, children, and senior citizens respectively.
Though the Central Park Zoo does not have typical large exotic animals, their smaller house exhibits, as well as their outdoor exhibits featuring polar bears, seals, snow monkeys, red pandas, and their new Allison Maher Stern Snow Leopard Exhibit, are well worth the price of admission. Although the penguin exhibit was closed during my visit, it was probably for the best, seeing as I spend over a half hour exploring their jaw-dropping rain forest exhibit.
The stifling hot building provides a shelter for all kinds of exotic animals, and is set up to mimic a section of a picturesque rain forest. Wooden walkways and staircases allow visitors to make their way through the vines and trees, with colorful birds perched upon their branches. Inside corridors, glass separates visitors from the animals that should not be in such close contact with the visitors as the birds, either for the protection of the visitors of the animals themselves.
Below are my favorite pictures of the zoo, and I hope they inspire you to visit either the Central Park Zoo or any of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s parks in your area, both to experience a break from the bustling city and to learn more about the wildlife around the world.