There is a zoo in Prospect Park. I’m sure many people who live in Brooklyn know that. I know that. But while I’ve meandered around the park a fair bit, and seen signs for it, I’d never been there till this past Sunday. And now I can officially say, it’s worth the visit!
I would, however, suggest approaching the zoo from its Flatbush Ave entrance, rather than trying to find it from inside the park. My friend and I didn’t have too much trouble, once we were officially heading to the zoo, but we did notice that the signs pointing toward various attractions in the park did not always seem to point at paths at all, and sometimes the paths they pointed to did not make sense given the map that was usually posted nearby. So you’ve been warned.
Admission for adults is $8 (compared to $23 for the Bronx Zoo, a price I learned from the loud, odd, and impatient guy behind us in line, who I overheard talking to his friend). I wondered as we went in if I’d feel like I’d gotten my money’s worth. I definitely did.
In the center of the zoo is a large habitat for sea lions. There was an adult pair, and two or three babies. The babies would jump out of the water and then go back under immediately, so it was hard to keep count of them. The adults pushed themselves up onto the side of their pool to look at people, like in the photo above. I wanted to watch to see if one of the babies would stay out of the water long enough for a good photo, but after a few unsuccessful minutes we decided to check out the Discovery Trail.
The Discovery Trail has some great structures for kids to climb on or take pictures in (including prairie dog-inspired glass bubbles in the prairie dog habitat; unfortunately we saw no prairie dogs). There’s also an aviary, peacocks, adorable otters, dingoes, and of course, the famous red pandas. I believe there are two red pandas, though we only saw the one. It paced around its enclosure, following a well-worn track. It did not, unfortunately, show off its climbing skills, except for climbing onto a stump.
We also saw emus. I wondered why they were separated by a fence, until it became clear that they were having great success annoying each other in spite of the fence.
There were ducks, and swans, and turtles, and if that had been that, it still would have been a very satisfying day at the zoo. But then we visited the Animal Lifestyles and Animals in Our Lives houses, where we saw a Pallas’s cat, a White-faced Scops owl, frogs, geckos, meerkats, and a family of baboons.
Then it was off to the Barn, where we visited a number of sheep, a miniature pony, goats, and alpacas. You could buy feed for a quarter and give the animals a treat—some of the goats were especially excited to eat what visitors had to offer.
As it started to rain, we headed toward the exit, pausing long enough to see some more exotic birds and pick up a snack for the road. The bus picked us up just across the street on Flatbush, making the trek home pretty easy. All in all it was a stellar outing, and I’d highly recommend it to people with kids—and people without. I know I’ll be back, especially in the warmer weather!
Has anyone been to the other NYC zoos run by the Wildlife Conservation Society? What are some highlights?