Bronx Zoo: Where the Wild Things Are in New York City

Have you ever dreamt of embarking on a global wildlife adventure without ever leaving the comfort of your city? Imagine strolling through dense rainforests, crossing scorching deserts, and trekking through icy landscapes, all in a single day.

No, this isn’t a storyline ripped from a fantasy novel. It’s all possible in New York’s very own metropolitan treasure, the Bronx Zoo.

From tiny bugs to towering giraffes, it’s a wildlife haven that will take you on an unforgettable journey across continents and through diverse habitats.

Bronx Zoo history

The roots of the zoo trace back to the late 19th century. Did you know that the zoo, initially called the New York Zoological Park, was opened in 1899?

It was an initiative by a group of conservationists, including the famous philanthropist William T. Hornaday and industrialist Andrew H. Green.

Supported by wealthy New Yorkers such as the Astors and the Rockefellers, it aimed to be a sanctuary for wildlife and a place for New Yorkers to appreciate the beauty of the natural world.

Over the decades, the zoo has become a pioneering force in global wildlife conservation, leading efforts to save species on the brink of extinction.

Now managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the zoo isn’t just a place for a fun family day out; it’s a testament to our ongoing commitment to protecting and preserving Earth’s incredible biodiversity.

The unique features of the Bronx Zoo

Where else in the big apple can you come face to face with snow leopards, gorillas, and sea lions?

The zoo, spanning over 265 acres, boasts a staggering range of wildlife—around 6,000 animals representing over 700 species.

And it’s not just about the numbers; the zoo emphasizes replicating natural habitats, giving visitors a rare chance to see these animals in environments designed to mirror their wild homes.

What sets the zoo apart from other zoos worldwide? Perhaps it’s their dedication to authenticity, the sheer diversity of their animal exhibits, or their continuous commitment to conservation.

From the African Plains exhibit where lions roam, to the lush landscape of JungleWorld, each corner of the zoo is a chance to experience a different part of our planet.

So, strap on your explorer boots and grab your binoculars, because the zoo is not just a zoo—it’s a worldwide wildlife expedition waiting to be discovered.

Exploring the various exhibits of the Bronx Zoo

The zoo is much more than your typical stroll-and-see animal park. The zoo features several distinct exhibits, each designed to transport visitors to a different corner of the globe, right from the heart of New York City. Here’s a peek into some of these wonder-filled exhibits:

Congo Gorilla Forest

Ready for an immersive journey through the heart of Africa? The Congo Gorilla Forest, spread across a lush, 6.5-acre rainforest, is home to two troops of western lowland gorillas, mandrills, okapi, and other unique species.

Bronx Zoo Congo Gorilla Forest

As you wander along the winding trails, keep your eyes peeled for these majestic animals amidst the dense greenery and interactive displays.


Ever wonder what the unique wildlife of Madagascar looks like? The Madagascar! exhibit introduces visitors to the extraordinary species that inhabit this island nation.

Say hello to lemurs leaping through trees, hissing cockroaches, and the peculiar fossa. Plus, don’t forget to admire the massive baobab tree replica in the heart of the exhibit.


Step inside JungleWorld and be swept away by the magic of an Asian tropical rainforest.

Bronx Zoo Jungleworld Tiger
Bronx Zoo Jungleworld

With a variety of habitats ranging from mangrove swamps to evergreen forests, this year-round indoor exhibit offers a glimpse into the rich biodiversity of Asia.

Among the hundreds of animal species here, you’ll find gibbons, leafcutter ants, and even a Malayan tapir.

Himalayan Highlands

Want to experience the chill of the Himalayas without leaving New York? Step into the Himalayan Highlands exhibit. Here, you’ll traverse rugged terrains and steep cliffs mimicking the rocky habitats of the Himalayas.

Bronx Zoo Himalayan Highlands

Get ready to meet the elusive snow leopard and red panda, both known for their remarkable adaptations to high-altitude environments.

Big Bears

Step into the world of North America’s largest predators at the Big Bears exhibit. Here, you can witness the mighty grizzly bear and its brown bear cousin in action. Safe behind the glass, watch these fascinating creatures play, swim, and forage.

Bronx Zoo Big Bears

Tiger Mountain

Get ready to venture through a replicated Asian deciduous forest at Tiger Mountain, where you might catch a glimpse of Amur tigers prowling their habitat.

This award-winning exhibit aims to raise awareness about these majestic big cats and the threats they face in the wild.

American Bison

Delve into a bit of American history at the American Bison exhibit. The zoo played a key role in saving these iconic animals from the brink of extinction in the early 20th century.

Gelada Reserve

Last on our list but far from the least exciting is the Gelada Reserve. Home to the rare Ethiopian gelada baboons, this exhibit offers a glimpse into the social dynamics of ‘the bleeding-heart monkey,’ named for their unique chest patch. Watch in awe as these extraordinary primates groom, forage, and communicate, offering insights into their complex social structures.

Bronx Zoo American Bison
Bronx Zoo Gelada Reserve

Zoo Center

Make sure to stop by the Zoo Center, the historical heart of the zoo. Housed in a beautiful Beaux-Arts building, the Zoo Center features a rotating collection of unique animals, including Komodo dragons and various reptile species. While you’re there, don’t miss the stunning murals illustrating the story of animal evolution.

Interacting with the animals

The zoo isn’t just about observing animals from a distance; it offers unique opportunities for interactive experiences that bring you closer to the magic of the wild.

Feeding the Sea Lions

Who wouldn’t want to share a snack with a playful sea lion? One of the highlights of any zoo visit is the chance to participate in the sea lion feeding sessions. Under the supervision of experienced zookeepers, you’ll learn about the dietary habits of these charismatic creatures while tossing them a fishy treat.

Penguin Feedings

Imagine witnessing the feeding frenzy of a flock of penguins right before your eyes. Well, at the Bronx Zoo, you can do just that.

Join the zookeepers as they feed the lively and adorable penguins. It’s a unique opportunity to learn about these tuxedo-clad birds, their feeding habits, and their captivating underwater acrobatics.

Camel Rides

Ever wondered what it feels like to ride a camel? At the zoo , you can find out! Take a fun-filled ride on the humped back of these gentle giants. It’s a taste of a desert safari without leaving New York City.

These interactive experiences, coupled with the zoo’s engaging keeper talks and animal demonstrations, offer visitors a deeper connection with the remarkable creatures who call the zoo home.

Kid-friendly attractions

Visiting the zoo is a magical experience for kids, full of exciting sights, sounds, and smells. The zoo takes it a step further, with several exhibits and activities designed to engage and inspire its youngest visitors.

Children’s Zoo

The Children’s Zoo offers an interactive adventure for kids, allowing them to get up close with animals like monkeys, otters, and even a kangaroo! This is a hands-on learning space, with activities that teach kids about different animals and their natural behaviors.

Bug Carousel

Fancy a ride on a giant praying mantis or a colossal ladybug? The Bug Carousel is a unique merry-go-round that celebrates the smaller creatures in the animal kingdom. As kids whirl around on their favorite bug, they’ll learn about the important role insects play in our ecosystem.

In addition to these attractions, the zoo also organizes educational workshops, camps, and family overnight adventures. These fun-filled learning experiences are designed to foster a love for wildlife and conservation in the next generation.

Nature Trek

Designed to inspire a love for nature in children, the Nature Trek is a hands-on, fully immersive experience. Kids can explore a nature-themed play area, navigate a maze, and walk along elevated boardwalks. It’s not just fun, it’s also an education in biodiversity and the importance of natural environments.

Treetop Adventure

For the more adventurous kids (and adults too!), the Treetop Adventure offers an exciting challenge. Navigate a series of rope courses high in the trees and experience the thrill of a zipline ride. It’s a fun and safe way for kids to unleash their inner Tarzan while testing their agility and confidence.

Visiting the Bronx Zoo

  • Operational Hours: The zoo is generally open from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on weekdays and until 5:30 PM on weekends and holidays. However, hours may vary seasonally, so it’s advisable to check the zoo’s official website before your visit.
  • Pricing: Ticket prices vary depending on age, with discounts available for seniors and children. The zoo also offers a Total Experience ticket that includes access to special attractions. For the most up-to-date pricing details, visit the zoo’s website.
  • Accessibility: The zoo is committed to being accessible to all visitors. Wheelchairs and electric convenience vehicles (ECVs) are available for rent, and most exhibits, restaurants, and restrooms are wheelchair-accessible.

Tips and tricks to maximize your Bronx Zoo visit

  • Start Early: Arrive at the zoo early to beat the crowds and have a better chance of seeing the animals when they’re most active.
  • Plan Your Route: With over 265 acres to explore, it’s helpful to plan your route in advance. Check out the map on the zoo’s website to strategize your day.
  • Don’t Miss Feeding Times: One of the most exciting times to visit animal exhibits is during feeding times. Check the daily schedule upon arrival to make sure you don’t miss these.
  • Pack Snacks and Drinks: While the zoo has a variety of food options, it can also be a good idea to bring along snacks and drinks, especially if you’re visiting with kids.
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: There’s a lot of walking involved in exploring the zoo, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
  • Check the Weather: Much of the zoo is outdoors, so dress accordingly and consider bringing rain gear just in case.

The Bronx Zoo in pop culture

Ever notice how some settings in your favorite films or TV series look strangely familiar? That’s because the zoo has made several cameos in pop culture, making it not just a wildlife haven but a star of the small and big screens.

For starters, the zoo featured prominently in the popular Animal Planet reality TV series “The Zoo,” which offers viewers an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the zoo’s operations and its diverse wildlife.

Moreover, the zoo served as a backdrop in films like “The Fisher King” and “The Adjustment Bureau.” Its enchanting landscapes and wildlife enclosures have provided filmmakers with a captivating and somewhat exotic setting right in the heart of New York City.

Comparing the Bronx Zoo to other zoos worldwide

As the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States, the zoo sets a high bar. But how does it compare to other renowned zoos around the world?

  • Size and Diversity: With over 6,000 animals representing about 700 species, the zoo rivals the San Diego Zoo in the United States and the Berlin Zoo in Germany, both known for their extensive animal collections.
  • Conservation Efforts: The zoo’s commitment to conservation is on par with that of the Singapore Zoo and the London Zoo, both recognized globally for their conservation initiatives.
  • Interactive Experiences: Few zoos match the interactive experiences offered by the zoo. Facilities such as the Dubai Zoo and the Toronto Zoo also provide similar opportunities, but the zoo’s range of offerings, from camel rides to sea lion feedings, is impressive.
  • Popularity: In terms of visitor numbers, the zoo stands tall among the most visited zoos worldwide, alongside the Beijing Zoo in China and the Ueno Zoo in Japan.

Getting to the Bronx Zoo

Located in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, the zoo is readily accessible by various modes of transport. Here’s a quick guide to help you find the best route:

  • By Subway: Taking the subway is a convenient and fast way to reach the zoo. You can take the #2 or #5 train to East Tremont Ave/West Farms Square, which is right at the zoo’s Southern Boulevard entrance.
  • By Bus: Several bus routes stop near the zoo, including the BxM11 express bus from Manhattan, which stops right outside the Bronx River Gate entrance.
  • By Car: If you’re driving, set your GPS to the zoo’s official address: 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10460. The zoo has parking available at all entrances (Southern Boulevard, Bronx River Gate, and Asia Gate), but keep in mind that parking fees apply.
  • By Metro-North Railroad: If you’re coming from the northern suburbs or Connecticut, take the Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem line to Fordham, then hop on the Bx9 bus to 183rd Street and Southern Blvd.


Is the Bronx Zoo free on Wednesdays?

Yes, the zoo offers a “pay-what-you-wish” admission on Wednesdays, allowing visitors to enjoy all the general exhibits for a donation of their choosing. However, it’s important to note that some special exhibits and attractions may not be included in the free admission.

Can I bring food into the Bronx Zoo?

Yes, visitors are allowed to bring their own food and beverages into the zoo. Picnic areas are available throughout the park. However, alcohol and glass containers are not permitted.

What is the best time to visit the Bronx Zoo?

The best time to visit the zoo is in the morning, right after it opens. This is when the animals are usually most active and the zoo is less crowded. Weekdays are typically less busy than weekends.

Is parking available at the Bronx Zoo?

Yes, parking is available at the zoo at all entrances (Southern Boulevard, Bronx River Gate, and Asia Gate). There is a fee for parking, and it’s advisable to arrive early, especially on busy days, as the parking lots can fill up quickly.


The Bronx Zoo is a shining gem in the heart of New York City, offering an immersive wildlife experience unlike any other.

From the rich diversity of its animal exhibits to its commitment to conservation, it provides an enlightening and enjoyable adventure for visitors of all ages.

With engaging exhibits, interactive experiences, and a host of amenities, the zoo ensures a memorable journey into the heart of the natural world.