Being Bronx residents, my family and I are frequent flyers at the Bronx Zoo and waited patiently as the Children’s Zoo section underwent a lengthy renovation. It reopened late in the spring, and we made our first visit there yesterday. The changes at first seemed subtle to us, since the basic layout and many key attractions remain the same, but as we progressed through the space, they became more apparent and exciting.
Here are five reasons we love the new Children’s Zoo at the Bronx Zoo:
1) More—and new—animals: I’d never seen an anteater before, and it’s larger and hairier than I imaged. That’s just one of the new creatures living in the Children’s Zoo post-renovation. There’s also a sloth—which wasn’t doing much, as you might have assumed—and several pudu, the world’s smallest breed of deer. All in all, it seemed to us that the Children’s Zoo is putting more of an emphasis on seeing and learning about animals without eliminating the other activities kids love, a shift that I welcome.
Related: Find zoos, botanical gardens, and nature centers in the New York metro region.
2) Old favorites: Zoo officials knew better than to mess with the giant climbable rope spider web or the prairie dog tunnels kids from which kids love popping up. The giant slide, the climb-through log, the turtle shells-- they’re all still there, much to my kids’ delight.
3) New life at the pond: Perhaps the most obvious change in the experience is at the water area. I don’t remember seeing much more than ducks and swans there in the past, but they’re now joined by several gorgeous flamingoes. And as you move past them, you’ll notice monkeys climbing around the trees growing in the middle of the pond.
4) Small touches: There are newly redesigned signs and other less-obvious flourishes. A very short rope bridge offers just a little more excitement as kids progress along the path. Chickens now roam the petting zoo freely, along with the ever-present peacocks. And so on.
5) The Petting Zoo: Speaking of that end-of-the-trail favorite, it’s been enhanced, too, with new animals, a tractor for kids to climb and pretend to drive, and that holy grail for parents whose kids want to feed the animals again and again and again: change machines to turn your dollar bills into much-needed quarters.
Related: Search the calendar for upcoming events near you or around the NY Metro region.
Main photo credit (monkey image at top of page): Julie Larsen Maher © Wildlife Conservation Society