The Bronx Zoo is one of the most renowned zoos in the world. It’s managed by The Wildlife Conservation Society, and is at the forefront of global efforts to protect the world’s wildlife and wild places. The zoo offers city residents and visitors a chance to escape the urban jungle and explore recreated habitats (and the animals that live within them) that are as diverse and exciting as the planet we all share.
Iconic: It’s the largest urban zoo in America, with 265 acres of parkland that are home to more than more than 4,000 animals from some 650 species. Several of its architectural features have been designated as New York City landmarks. It’s been a New York institution for more than a century, and welcomes more than two million visitors every year.
Photographic: The zoo’s natural landscapes, exotic wildlife, and stunning architectural highlights (see below) offer picture-perfect photo opps. Camera-ready locations include the Jungleworld indoor rainforest, the Bug Carousel, and the buildings of Astor Court.
Architectural: Several of the Zoo’s architectural features are official New York City landmarks, chief among them the Astor Court buildings, which were designed by Heins & Lefarge (Cathedral of St. John the Devine in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights), and include the Zoo Center, which boasts tiling from Raphael Gustavino (whose work can be seen in Grand Central Terminal and on Ellis Island). Other landmarks include the Rainey Memorial Gates (located at the Fordham Road entrance), which feature 22 full-sized sculpted animals; the Rockefeller Fountain (near Astor Court), built by Italian sculptor Biagio Catella in 1872; and the Rocking Stone (overlooking the Buffalo Range), a 30-ton perfectly-balanced immovable granite cube perched on a slab base.
Historic: The Bronx Zoo opened in 1899 as the New York Zoological Park, and has been one of New York City’s most popular attractions ever since. It pioneered the practice of housing animals in natural, uncaged environments with the opening of its African Plains habitat in 1941, and continues to innovate, with the opening of its new Nature Trek Exhibit and standalone Treetop Adventure Park (see below).
Kid Friendly: In addition to its obvious allure for families and kids of all ages, the zoo features some exhibits that are specifically geared to children, including the Bug Carousel, Nature Trek (a kids’ village in the trees with netted bridges and elevated tunnels), and of course, the seasonal Children’s Zoo, which gives kids the chance to get up close and personal with goats, sheep, and prairie dogs, and opens at the beginning of April.
Literary: Spectacle, the Astonishing Life of Ota Benga” by Pamela Newkirk (Amistad/HarperCollins, 2015) tells the story of a young man from Congo who was caged and exhibited by the Zoo as an “African Pygmy” in 1906. The public outcry led to his release after a few months to a Brooklyn orphanage, and eventually to a new life in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Cinematic: Deliver Us from Evil (2014 and Altered States (1980). The Zoo is also the focus of the Animal Planet series The Zoo, which begins its second season in March 2018.
Outdoorsy: Most of the zoos 250+ acres are open natural habitats, and the indoor landscapes, such as Madagascar! and Jungleworld, recreate outdoor environments with extraordinary detail.
Like a Local: You can get to the zoo for the cost of a bus ticket on the BxM11 bus, which lets you off at the Bronx River Entrance, Gate B. Locals know that you can bring your own food into the Zoo (note, no coolers are allowed); there are picnic areas and tables at the Dancing Crane Café and throughout the park, with water fountains throughout to refill your bottle.
Cost/Money Savers though March 29, 2018: For unlimited access to all attractions, purchase Total Experience tickets, which are available online in advance (https://bronxzoo.com/checkout/tickets/winter-total-experience-tickets/totalexperience) or at the gate, and priced as follows: $28.95 for Adults Age 13+; $20.95 for Children ages 3-12: $26.95 for Seniors age 65+). Children under age 2 are admitted for free.
General Admission to the Zoo is available only at the gate, and priced at $22.95 for Adults, $14.95 for children ages 3-12, and $20.95 for Seniors (age 65+). Children age 2 and under are admitted for free. GA covers most attractions; however there is an added $6 fee for each the following (which are included with Total Experience admission): Jungleworld, 4-D Theater, Bug Carousel, Congo Gorilla Forest, Butterfly Garden, Wild Asia Monorail, and Zoo Shuttle.
All Day Parking: $16 for a car; $20 for a bus; preferred parking at Fountain Circle is $23 (weekends only).
RENTALS: Single Stroller is $10, Double Stroller is $15; Wheelchairs are free ($20 Refundable Deposit); Electric Convenience Vehicles are $40 (S. Blvd entrance only, $100 Refundable Deposit
- Wednesdays are pay what you wish for General Admission; special exhibit fees still apply.
- Sometimes the zoo offers deals on sites like Groupon, Goldstar, and LivingSocial.
Time Commitment/Time Savers:
Fly-By: The Zoo recommends at least two hours to take in its most popular attractions: Tiger Mountain, Himalayan Highlands, Congo Gorilla Forest, and World of Reptiles. If you’re traveling with little kids, you might instead want to focus on the Children’s Zoo and the exhibits housed in the other buildings of Astor Court, including the Sea Lion Pool.
In-Depth: Four hours or more: In addition to the above suggestions, with a longer visit you can take in more of the more expansive habitats, like African Plains and Jungleworld. If you choose the Total Experience Admission package, you can take advantage of the shuttle or the Wild Asia monorail during the warmer months for easier access.
Need to Know: The Zoo is open year round 7 days a week except for the following holidays: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Martin Luther King Day. There are two levels of admission: General Admission and Total Experience (see above). Hours are 10-4:30 Offseason; 10-5:00 weekdays April through October, and 10-5:00 on weekends.
Accessibility: All buildings are wheelchair accessible, and most exhibits can accommodate manual wheelchairs, most electric wheelchairs, and some scooters.
Exhibits: Year-Round Exhibits include American Bison; Aquatic Bird House and Sea Bird Aviary (with penguin feedings at 3:30pm); Baboon Reserve; Big Bears; Birds of Prey; Children’s Zoo; Himalayan Highlands (with snow leopards); Madagascar! (with lemurs and crocodiles); Mouse House (with Chinchillas and shrews); Sea Lion pool (with feedings at 11am and 3pm); Tiger Mountain; World of Birds; World of Reptiles; Zoo Center (with rhinos and komodo dragons); Congo Gorilla Forest; Jungleworld (with langurs and gibbons); Nature Trek; 4-D theater; Bug Carousel. Seasonal Exhibits (Spring through Fall) include African Plains; Butterfly Garden, Wild Asia Monorail; Camel Rides; Zoo Shuttle.
Getting around: The Zoo Shuttle can take you from one end of the park to the other. It runs on a full schedule in June–September (does not run on Wednesdays in July and August); weekends only in September and October. May be closed in rain or other weather conditions. Included with Zoo Experience admission: $6.00 with General Admission. Free for Seniors and accessible for standard and most electric wheelchairs.
Why You Should Skip:
The Bronx Zoo is considered one of the best zoos in the world; yet, if you’re not into zoos (or kids for that matter), you may want to skip.
When to Go: Arrive as early as you can to get a jump on the crowds. You may want to avoid Wednesdays, which can be busy due to pay-what-you-want admission. The warmer months draw much higher attendance.
How to Get There:
Subway: ADA-accessible route: #2 train to Pelham Parkway. This station has three elevators that lead down to street level. Head west to the Zoo’s Bronx River entrance (Gate B). Alternative:#2 or #5 train to East Tremont Ave/West Farms Square. At street level, walk straight ahead (follow train uptown) on Boston Road 2.5 blocks to the Zoo’s Asia gate entrance (Gate A). (Note: Not ADA-accessible.)
Taxi/Car: GPS: the Zoo has two main parking lots: Southern Boulevard entrance: 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10460. Bronx River entrance: intersection of Bronx River Parkway and Boston Road, Bronx, NY 10460.
From Manhattan’s Eastside: FDR Drive North to the RFK Bridge. Follow signs to the Bronx and the Bruckner Expwy. Take Bruckner towards New Haven (stay left); after drawbridge, exit right for the Bronx River Pkwy North. The Zoo’s Bronx River entrance (Gate B) is located at Exit 6 off the Bronx River Pkwy.
From Manhattan’s Westside: Henry Hudson North to Cross Bronx Expwy East (I-95) to Exit 4B. Follow signs to Bronx River Pkwy North (bearing left after the I-95 entrance ramp). The Zoo’s Bronx River entrance (Gate B) is located at Exit 6 off the Bronx River Pkwy.
From Other Boroughs: See Zoo website: https://bronxzoo.com/visitor-info/getting-here.
Bus: From Manhattan: BxM11 express bus the to the Zoo’s Bronx River entrance (Gate B).
From Bronx, Bx9 or Bx19 buses to 183rd Street and Southern Blvd, to the Zoo’s Southern Blvd pedestrian entrance (Gate C)
From Queens, Q44 to 180th Street and Boston Road to the Bronx Zoo’s Asia gate entrance (Gate A).
Related Attractions/Other Ways to See: The Bronx Zoo is one of the parks within The Wildlife Conservation Society, which also includes the Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and the New York Aquarium.
On Zoo grounds:
Treetop Adventure: Bronx Zoo Treetop Adventure Climb & Zipline is the Zoo’s new adventure park for visitors age 7 and above, opened in 2017. It’s located at the Zoo’s Bronx River Parkway entrance and has a separate admission charge. Tickets start at $34.95 for a two-way zipline crossing over the Bronx River (which runs through the Zoo grounds), and $64.95 for a two-hour climbing ticket for the Park’s treetop rope course. The park has evening hours.
Run for the Wild: Each spring the World Conservation Society hosts the Run for the Wild 5K race. The route covers most of the Zoo’s grounds and attracts more than 5,000 guests, and includes post-race activities like rock climbing and a beer garden.
New York Botanical Garden: Adjacent to the Zoo, this 250-acre living museum is teeming with verdant landscapes and showstopping natural exhibitions. Since both the Zoo and the Garden are expansive properties, a car is helpful in getting from place to place; expect to do a lot of walking if you want to take both of them in.
Arthur Avenue: You could also combine a trip to the Zoo with dinner on Arthur Avenue, the Little Italy of the Bronx, which is close by and can be reached on foot, by bus, or car. If the Zoo hasn’t tired you out too much, walking tours are available.
Need more inspiration on how to focus only on what you love in NYC? Check out a full list of attractions.
Don’t forget to read a few articles on how to hack New York City, so you can see more, do more, and stress less!