If you are spending a few days in New York and you have enough free time I recommend visiting the Bronx Zoo. Located north of Manhattan, in the Bronx Park, is the largest urban zoo in the United States in which live about 6,000 animals belonging to 700 different species. That is why this visit is one of the things to see and do in New York.
The curious thing about this zoo is that it took advantage of its great extension to rebuild on its grounds the habitats of the animals that inhabit it. This way they were able to reduce the use of cages and mix different species that could coexist to create an environment similar to the one they would have in freedom. Would you like to meet some of them before visiting the Bronx Zoo? Keep reading!
1. The bald eagle
At the Bronx Zoo you can see bald eagles, a North American bird of prey well known for being the national symbol of the United States and appearing on the country's national coat of arms.
At the end of the 20th century, bald eagles were on the verge of extinction, but fortunately the population has recovered and has grown in much of the country.
They are characterized by their white feathered head and tail, brown body and large yellow beak, eyes and legs.
Bald eagles live in forests near water areas such as lakes and coasts, where they may eat fish. However, they also hunt small mammals and may even feed on carrion.
You can see bald eagles at the Bronx Zoo in the Birds of Prey exhibit.
2. California Sea Lion
California sea lions were one of the first species acquired by the Bronx Zoo back in 1899. Since then it has become one of the most popular with visitors.
These animals are often confused with seals but differ from them in that they have ears and can move well on land because their hind limbs rotate forward.
During the 19th century, sea lions were heavily persecuted because their meat and blubber were highly sought after. Fortunately, their population has recovered.
They feed on fish, octopus and squid and are known for their intelligence and ability to play and communicate. At the Bronx Zoo you can see these animals in the Sea Lion Pool exhibit.
3. Grizzly Bear
The grizzly bear is one of the most beloved animals by visitors to the Bronx Zoo and also one of the fiercest! In the wild, some of them were orphaned, so they were rescued and transferred to this zoo so they could lead a better life.
In captivity, grizzlies love to swim, stretch, wrestle with each other and eat the treats the keepers prepare for them while in the wild they live in the rocky areas of the United States and usually feed on fish and vegetables. In fact, they have a snout more sensitive than that of a bloodhound and can detect food from miles away.
They are a subspecies of the brown bear that can measure 2 meters and their name "grizzly" (grizzly) comes from the silver fur on their back.
4. North American Porcupine
Another of the most curious animals you will see at the Bronx Zoo is the North American porcupine, also known as the urson, which inhabits the forests of the northwestern United States, Alaska and Canada.
It is an animal that attracts a lot of attention because its body is covered with 30,000 quills that it uses along with its strong smell to scare away its enemies.
The North American porcupine can inhabit forests, prairies or deserts and spends most of its time in trees because they are good climbers. They feed on shoots, roots, bark and leaves. They are solitary creatures that have nocturnal habits and at the Bronx Zoo you can see them in the Children's Zoo exhibit.
5. Red Panda
At the Bronx Zoo you can see red pandas, cute animals native to Asia that live in the Himalayas, northern Burma and central China.
Once considered related to panda bears and raccoons, they now form their own family, the ailurids. Red pandas are solitary and shy animals that spend most of their time climbing trees.
In the wild, they are most active at night and at dawn, when they go out to look for food. They love bamboo, fruit, shoots and eggs, although they can also capture insects.
At the Bronx Zoo you can see the red panda in the Himalayan Highlands exhibit along with the snow leopard and the white-naped crane.
6. The gorilla
One of the coolest exhibits at the Bronx Zoo is the Congo Gorilla Forest where you can see these intelligent and imposing creatures that are among the closest "relatives" of humans.
Gorillas live in the tropical forests of the Congo, the green heart of the African continent. Gorilla tribes number about 5 to 10 individuals and consist of a dominant silverback male, his harem and offspring.
They feed especially on tender shoots, fruit, roots and the bark and pulp of trees, although they may also eat termites.
In captivity, they learn to communicate with sign language and are also able to use tools to get food. Watching them interact and play is always exciting!
7. Poison Dart Frog
Poison dart frogs are famous for the bright color of their skin that warns predators of their high toxicity. Did you know that these amphibians get their name from ancient Native American tribes, who rubbed the tips of their arrows on the frogs' backs to impregnate them with their poisonous secretions before hunting?
Poison dart frogs inhabit the rainforests of Central and South America and feed on different varieties of insects such as ants, termites, fruit flies, young crickets or tiny beetles, to which scientists attribute the toxicity of these frogs.
At the Bronx Zoo you can see these colorful amphibians in the World of Reptiles exhibit where you can also see other species such as Cuban crocodiles, anacondas, blue iguanas and giant river turtles.
8. American Alligator
Another of the species that you can see in the World of Reptiles exhibit at the Bronx Zoo is the American alligator, a species more than 150 million years old that some time ago was on the verge of extinction. Fortunately, the population has recovered and is thriving today.
American alligators are excellent swimmers and feed on turtles, snakes, fish and small mammals. They inhabit the southeastern United States, in the rivers, swamps and freshwater marshes of Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.
9. Southern White Rhinoceros
Although this species is known as southern white rhinoceros, in reality its color is not white but gray. It gets its name from the word "wyt" which in the Afrikaans language means wide, alluding to the size of its mouth.
It is a semi-social and territorial animal that lives mainly in South Africa, although it also lives in the savannahs of Kenya, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
They love to take mud baths to regulate their temperature and protect their skin from the sun and insects. The southern white rhino is the only species not listed as endangered, but poaching for its prized horn (which is said to have aphrodisiac properties) is a serious threat they face.
At the Bronx Zoo you can observe them in the Zoo Center exhibit.
10. Komodo dragon
Have you ever seen the world's largest lizard? At the Bronx Zoo you will have the opportunity to meet the Komodo dragon, an animal that in captivity can reach 3 meters in length and weigh more than 130 kilos. It is really impressive!
This creature is characterized by a rough skin of different colors (gray, blue, green or orange), a muscular tail and long claws. Their saliva is also venomous, although they rarely capture live prey. They tend to feed especially on carrion.
Like the white rhinoceros or the Aldabra giant tortoise, the Komodo dragon lives in the Zoo Center of the Bronx Zoo, the heart of the zoo since 1908.
How much do tickets to the Bronx Zoo cost?
The best way to visit the Bronx Zoo is to buy a Bronx Zoo Admission ticket from 25 Euros for adults (over 13 years old) and from 20 Euros for children (from 3 to 12 years old), since with it you will have access to the zoo and unlimited admission to the attractions available on the day of the visit.
However, there are other options to visit the park. If you want to know more about ticket prices, I recommend you to read the post Bronx Zoo ticket prices. In it I also explain when you can get in for free and how the reduced rates are so you can save a little bit on your visit.
What time does the Bronx Zoo open?
To plan your visit to the Bronx Zoo and your subsequent activities in the city you will need to know its opening hours. The park opens at 10 AM Monday through Sunday.
Depending on the time of year, the zoo closes at 4:30 PM in the cooler months or 5:30 PM in the warmer months.
Other interesting facts about the Bronx Zoo
After seeing the wonderful animals that you can find in this zoo you will not resist to book a place to visit it during your stay in New York. You already know prices and opening hours, but we want to make it even easier for you by reminding you of some interesting details.
How to get to the Bronx Zoo
The fastest way to get to the Bronx Zoo is to take a cab or public transportation. If for budget reasons you choose the second option, I advise you to take the subway (lines 2 or 5 to E. 180th St.) or the express bus (line BxM11 from Manhattan and get off at the Bronx River entrance to the park). Here you have a guide about the New York subway that you may find useful.
As the saying goes, "all roads lead to Rome" (in this case to the Bronx!) but not for the same money. Of the above mentioned, the subway is the cheapest option (a single ticket will cost you about 2,50 euros) while the express bus ticket costs a bit more (about 5 euros approximately). Keep this in mind when planning your visit!
How long does it usually take to visit the Bronx Zoo?
Visits to the Bronx Zoo usually last 2 to 3 hours although it is so large that you will need at least half a day to see it in its entirety.
If you want to know more about what is the best time to see the park, how long you can stay there or when it closes its doors, I advise you to read the post Bronx Zoo Hours.
Where to eat at the Bronx Zoo?
Since once inside the zoo there is no limit to how long you can stay, you may lose track of time when you're busy watching the park's exhibits. If you skip lunchtime and suddenly your stomach is growling like a lion's, don't worry because you won't have to go outside the zoo to eat - there are plenty of options for snacks inside!
From stalls and carts where you can buy some snacks to satisfy your appetite quickly (Zoo Bites, Zoo Brews, etc.) to restaurants where you can take a long break and enjoy a delicious meal a la carte (Dancing Crane Café or Asia Café). There are even picnic areas where you can have a small picnic inside the zoo if you bring your own food. You choose what you feel like!