If you are an animal lover who has longed to travel the globe to learn about animals and their habitats, consider a trip to the Bronx Zoo in New York. Here, visitors will find a wide variety of animals from exotic to endangered, special events, exclusive animal themed exhibits and lectures that will keep the entire family engaged for a full day of fun and education.
Bronx Zoo Main Information
The Bronx Zoo is one of five institutions in New York that has been operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society since 1899.
Location, Hours and Parking
Located at 2300 Southern Boulevard in Bronx, the zoo is open year-round with seasonal hours. From April to November, the zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Winter hours, which run from November to April, are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. The Zoo is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Years Day, and Martin Luther King Day.
All day car parking is $16. Preferred parking at Fountain Circle is available weekends only and is $23. Street parking is also available around the zoo.
To make getting around the park easier, single stroller rentals are $10, double stroller rentals are $15, wheelchairs are free with a $20 refundable deposit and electric convenience vehicles are $40 at the S. Blvd. entrance with a $100 refundable deposit. The Bronx Zoo also offers a free app that you can download to your mobile device to make navigating the park easier.
Tickets and Packages
The Bronx Zoo offers a variety of ticket options and packages to choose from.
- General admission tickets are $19.95 for adults, $12.95 for children aged 3-12 and $17.95 for seniors. Children two and under are always free. General admission tickets are only available at the gate.
- Total Experience Tickets, available from April 1 to November 5, give you instant park access that is mobile friendly and can be printed out. Total experience tickets are $36.95 for adults, $26.95 for children aged 3-12, and $31.95 for seniors 65 and over. Again, children two and under are always free. This ticket enables you to visit special exhibits, like JungleWorld, 4-D Theater, Bug Carousel, Congo Gorilla Forest, Butterfly Garden, and the seasonal Wild Asia Monorail. You will also be able to use the Zoo Shuttle in season. If you have general admission tickets, you will have to pay $6 per person to enter these special exhibit areas.
- Family Zoos Plus Membership is $199.95 and includes admission for two adults, four children and a guest to four parks (Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and Prospect Park Zoo) for one year. Family Zoos Plus Membership with Bronx Zoo parking is $229.
- The Bronx Zoo offers year-round discounts to any active duty or reserve members of the U.S. military when they present a valid military ID at the admission gate. The discount includes free Total Experience ticket or general admission ticket, plus a 50% discount for up to three family members. This discount is only available at the gate.
- Complimentary discounts are given to students attending college located in New York City; a valid college ID from an institution located withing the five boroughs of NYC must be shown at the gate. A resident of New York City attending a non-New York City college with a valid college ID and proof of NYC residency also qualifies for complimentary discounts.
- General admission is "free" (or donate what you can) all day Wednesday.
Bronx Zoo Coupons
If you want to save money when visiting the Bronx Zoo, plan ahead to take advantage of coupons that will save you 10% to 20% on admission.
- If you visit the Zoo's website, a pop-up screen offers a 10% discount. A special code to use when purchasing tickets online is emailed to your account.
- Goodshop offers a 10% discount on its website, as well as the ability to sign up for future coupons and discounts.
- Offers.com offers a 10% discount for Total Experience tickets and a discount on family premium membership.
- Don't Pay Full offers a 20% discount for general admission and Total Experience tickets. The website also offers $20 off on annual memberships.
- AAA (Automobile Association of America) offers up to a 20% discount on Total Experience tickets. Current rates when using your AAA card are $29.65 for adults, $21.56 for children, and $25.56 for seniors.
- Metro North offers a combination rail and admission discount for general and Total Experience admission tickets.
- Coupon Follow offers a 20% off coupon on general, Total Experience and family admission to the zoo.
Dining at the Zoo
The Bronx Zoo has one main restaurant, as well as a series of seasonal cafes, snack stands and picnic tables located throughout the property. You can also bring your own food from home to enjoy at one of several picnic tables.
- The Dancing Crane Cafe, located close to the Zoo Center, opposite the Bronx Zoo Store, is a 17,500 square foot restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating that overlooks a natural marsh area. There are also tables for box lunches. The restaurant serves sandwiches, salads, soups, hot entrees, vegetarian options, ice cream, snacks and beverages. It opens at 10 a.m.
- Terrace Cafe, open seasonally, is located near the Children's Zoo and serves a variety of food and snacks including burgers, fries and chicken tenders. There are also tables here for boxed lunches.
- The Cool Zone is adjacent to the grizzly bears and sells soda and milkshakes, seasonally.
- Three other seasonal dining options include Pecking Order near the polar bears, Asia Plaza near JungleWorld, and Somba Village near the Baboon Reserve.
Feature Exhibit Highlights
No matter what time of year you plan to visit the Bronx Zoo, there is always plenty to do and see. Since its opening in 1899, the zoo has offered an impressive number of exhibits, special events and tours, all while supporting the importance of wildlife conservation.
The zoo offers educational sessions that incorporate learning while still providing a fun, hands-on environment. One way to maximize your visit to the zoo is to spend the day with an expert. Bronx Zoo Discovery Guides are seasonal volunteers that are trained by their Education Department and are happy to escort families and couples around the Zoo and share their knowledge and insights.
The Congo Gorilla Forest
One of the main attractions of the Bronx Zoo is the Congo Gorilla Forest. It is 6.5 acres and features more than 400 animal species. The setting of this exhibit is an African rainforest, which is also the backdrop for one of the largest breeding grounds in the world for lowland gorillas.
The exhibit details the need for rainforests and provides visitors with ideas for contributing to the preservation of rainforests everywhere. Throughout this exhibit, it is possible for the entire family to come up close with a gorilla. Featured animals include the western lowland gorilla, mandrill and okapi. Visitors are encouraged to use their five senses in order to detect animal presence, just as if they were on a true rainforest exploration.
Entrance to this exhibit is included with Total Experience and Zoos Plus membership. It costs $6 with a general admission ticket.
The Butterfly Garden and Bug Carousel
The Butterfly Garden is home to more than 1,000 North American butterflies. The 5,000 square foot garden hideaway is just as gorgeous as the butterflies within. This beautiful garden provides butterflies with the necessities of life. This exhibit is open March 25 through October and is weather dependent. Just remember that butterflies take a winter break.
If you have children, don't forget to visit the Bug Carousel while touring this area of the park. Children love to take a ride on a giant beetle as parents inspect and discover the nearby insects.
Entrance to both of these attractions is included with Total Experience and Zoos Plus memberships. With a general admission ticket, it is $6 each.
If you want to take a break from walking around the zoo, visit this theater that offers a dramatic 3-D film with added sensory effects that will immerse you further into the scene. During this sensory theater experience, seats vibrate and move, and stimuli such as a spritz of water or hot or cold air blows on you depending on the film being shown. Stimuli come at you from the ceilings and from under your seat.
If your children frighten easily, this may not be an experience for your family. Total Experience and Zoos Plus membership visitors can enjoy this attraction for free. General admission visitors will need to pay $6 each.
Officially opening on July 1, 2017, this exhibit allows kids to climb and crawl through a village in the trees on fully netted bridges, towers, tunnels and walkways. This gives children a bird's-eye view of what the zoo looks like from above. It is best for children three years and older. Children must wear closed toe shoes when exploring this exhibition and sneakers are recommended. High heels are prohibited on this structure and flip flops and sandals are not recommended.
As with the other feature attractions named above, entrance here is free if you have a Total Experience ticket or a Zoos Plus membership. Otherwise, it's $6 per person.
Tiger Mountain and African Plains
One of the most exhilarating exhibits at the Bronx Zoo is Tiger Mountain. Here, kids can come face-to-face with a tiger. The tiger exhibits are designed to mimic their natural habitats and the tigers are encouraged to maintain their natural tendencies, making for a very realistic glimpse into the life of these majestic creatures. The only separation between the tigers and guests is a glass partition, which allows visitors to see tigers up close. You may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one of the Malayan tiger cubs that are usually out in the morning.
Everyone loves big cats and the African Plains exhibit doesn't disappoint. Here visitors will see majestic lions, African wild dogs and zebras. If you time your visit just right-mornings and late afternoon are best-you may see them play, drink water or nap in the shade. The best time of year to see this exhibit is from March 31 to November 3 when these animals are outside.
Tiger Mountain and African Plains are included with general admission.
Sea Lion Pool, Penguin Pool and Sea Bird Aviary
Located in the center of the zoo, sea lions have a long history here because they were one of the first exhibits opened to the public in 1899. Be sure to check the schedule for the times when zookeepers feed these fun-loving and curious creatures. Feedings usually take place at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
At the Aquatic Bird House, you will see Magellanic and Little Penguins, the smallest penguin species in the world at just 13-inches tall and about three pounds as adults. Feeding time at Penguin Pool when the Magellanic Penguins come out and bob for fish is at 3:30 p.m. While in this area, don't miss the nearby Sea Bird Aviary that houses colorful flamingos, puffins and Inca terns.
Sea Lion Pool, Penguin Pool and the Sea Bird Aviary are included with general admission.
Wild Asia Monorail and Jungleworld
A ride on the monorail takes you into the heart of Asia and is an excellent way to get a good view of the animals in this exhibit. It is relaxing to sit in the shade of the monorail and look at the animals as you pass them. Tour guides are on this seasonal ride to point out the animals that you will see during the twenty-minute journey. Of special interest are red pandas, elephants and rhinos.
Jungleworld is a magical Asian jungle where you can observe animals almost like they would live in the wild. It is fun to watch these animals groom each other in such a natural setting. Featured animals in this exhibit include white-cheeked gibbons, ebony langurs, Malayan tapirs, and Indian gharials.
The monorail and Jungleworld cost $6 extra with a general admission ticket. They are free with a Total Experience ticket or Zoos Plus membership.
If you are visiting the zoo with toddlers, the Children's Zoo is a must do. Goats, sheep and donkeys are visitor favorites in the farmyard. This exhibit has just gone through a makeover and highlights include touch exhibits, Nigerian goats, porcupines, the smallest deer species in the world, a giant anteater and squirrel monkeys.
If you have a Total Experience admission or a Zoos Plus membership, entrance to the Children's Zoo is included. Otherwise, it costs $6.
General Tips for Visiting
The Bronx Zoo is the largest city zoo in the country where you can see and learn about a vast array of animals. To enjoy your visit to the zoo, there are a few insider tips to keep in mind.
- The zoo is big. It covers 265 acres and houses more than 7,000 animals. If you plan on seeing all of them, wear very comfortable shoes.
- To save money and time from waiting in food lines, bring your own food from home. There are plenty of picnic tables where you can enjoy your lunch or a snack.
- Bring bottled water and look for water fountains, located throughout the park, to refill your bottle.
- Figure out what exhibits you want to see. It is not easy to navigate the entire zoo in just one day.
- Park in the lot closest to the exhibits that you want to visit.
- Check the website to see what times special events, lectures or tours are taking place on the day you are visiting.
- If you opt to go on a Wednesday when admission is by donation, go early. It gets very crowded, especially in the summer and fall months.
- Bring toilet paper, sometimes the bathrooms run out.
- To keep kids amused, make sure to bring plenty of snacks.
- The Bronx Zoo has several entrances. If you are meeting friends and family, decide on the entrance that will be your meeting point before setting out.
Websites like Booking.com, Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia, Priceline and other reservation services make finding a hotel in New York easy. Most of these websites have customer reviews. Hotels.com offers deals and includes TripAdvisor ratings next to each listing, which is very convenient.
Some hotels within two miles of the zoo that have received positive ratings on TripAdvisor include:
- Super 8 Bronx - 1145 Southern Blvd., Bronx, N.Y. (1.4 miles to the zoo)
- Topping Apartment - 1822 Topping Ave., Bronx, N.Y. (1.5 miles to the zoo)
- Morris Guest House - 1984 Morris Ave., Bronx, N.Y. (1.6 miles to the zoo)
- Residence Inn New York the Bronx at Metro Center Atrium - 1776 Eastchester Rd., Bronx, N.Y. (1.8 miles to the zoo)
- Roadway Inn - 3070-72 Webster Ave., Bronx, N.Y. (1.8 miles to the zoo)
Perfect for Animal Lovers
It is easy to see why the Bronx Zoo is the flagship zoo of the Wildlife Conservation Society with its 7,000 animals and 265 beautifully maintained acres to explore. It is easy to get to from New York City and the Tri-state area of New Jersey, Connecticut and New York. Visitors will find that the animals are well cared for, the grounds are clean, and the exhibits are engaging and educational for both young and young-at-heart animal lovers alike.