Central Park Zoo

things-to-do Mar 19, 2021

The Zoo is the best place in Central Park to get even closer with nature. It covers 6.5 acres in the southeastern corner of the park. It is one of the major attractions, one that you must see.

A place with rich history

The first attraction, a menagerie, opened doors in 1864. It is the first public zoo in New York City. A rather weird fact is that it was not included in the original Greensward Plan. It was included later in order to house several animals, mostly former pets that were given to the park authorities thought the years. The first planned sight for a zoo was the Manhattan Square. The same, that later became The American Museum of Natural History. Another such fact is that Frederick Law Olmsted wasn’t very keen on the menagerie, yet admitting that it was the most popular attraction of that time.

The current facility was established in 1934. It was a part of a large-scale revitalization program, led by NYC Parks commissioner Robert Moses. The first plans for a new zoo were outlined by Aymar Embury II. It included seven animal enclosures, a station and a garage, as well as a sea lion pool. The new zoo opened on December 2, 1934.

Senator Herbert Lehman and his wife donated the money for the Children's Zoo in 1960. The first major repairs were implemented in 1983. It was completed in 1988, and the total costs were about $35 million.


The park is divided in seven exhibits, each one dedicated to a different habitat. They are open all year round, with the animal feedings in Tisch Children's Zoo are a matter of schedule.

Allison Maher Stern Snow Leopard

The name says it. You can gaze upon the magnificent Snow Leopards. The Asia-native cats are about 7-feet in length, and can weight up to 90 pounds. These graceful predators are known to jump between 20 to 30 feet when hunting. As of 2019, there are nearly 7.500 known snow leopards in the wild, which means they are no longer endangered!

Central Garden & Sea Lion Pool

It is the royal seat of the California Sea Lion. It is in the very center of the zoo, and offers an underground view of these skilled swimmers. Those guys are really big – the male can weight up to 660 lb and reach 8 ft in length. The females are considerably smaller – 220 lb 6 ft. One of the main attractions of the zoo are Sea lion feedings.

central park zoo

Grizzly Bear & Treena’s Overlook

They are the latest addition of the Central Park Zoo. This is the home of several large rescued Grizzly Bears, coming from the zoo in Bronx. The Grizzly bear, a popular name for the North American brown bear, is native to North America. These monstrous predators can weight up to 400 lb and 790 lb (female and male respectively). They are a common species throughout the Norther US.

Tropic Zone: The Rainforest

A real treat to the eye! With all the color and variety, it is the most exotic of all the exhibits. Along with the birds and bats, there are several notable animals like the Emerald Tree Boa, the cute Black-And-White Ruffed Lemur, and the glorious Victoria-Crowned Pigeon.

Polar Circle

And the polar opposite (no pun intended). This is the home of four species of penguins – Gentoo, King Penguin, Chinstrap, Macaroni. They share the Circle with Tufted Puffin. Penguin Feedings are yet another popular attraction.

Temperate Territory

The Asian vibe of Central Park, this is the home of red pandas, snow monkeys and cranes. The red pandas are agile, capable climbers, and hang out (literally) on the threes most of the time. They are not related to the famous giant pandas of China. There are around 10.000 left in the world.

Tisch Children's Zoo

The most exciting place for the youngest visitors! It is named after Laurence A. Tisch – a business man, who donated the funds to create it. The place offers a chance to meet with some cute and friendly animals (amongst them is the only cow in Manhattan!), combined with the opportunity for the kids to have some fun and play. Also, you will have the opportunity to see the feeding of the animals.


The interactive attractions are what separate Central Park Zoo from the ordinary zoo. They give visitors the opportunity to get in a better touch with nature, the zoo, and Central Park. A cool fact is that the penguin and sea lion feedings take place in different hours, so you can see both!

4-D Theater

An entertaining experience for both and young! It’s a classic 3-d adventure with built-in sensory effects.

Penguin Feedings

They eat two times a day, and the daily meals for the penguins are the main attraction in the Polar Circle. It’s some good, clean fun (with a bit of fish) to watch the penguins of all species and sizes to crowd all over the place to get some snack.

Sea Lion Feedings

They eat three times a day, because they need to build some fat for the winter. They are a genuine attraction because their feedings are combined with training sessions. They are intelligent and curious creatures, and this makes those sessions even more entertaining!

Bonus fact: The famous cartoon franchise “Madagascar” kicks-off in the Central Park zoo. Yes, the escape of our beloved characters is exactly from our beloved zoo!

A noble cause!

You can become a Conservation member and thus give your support WCS's mission via form on the website. In return, except the satisfaction of helping, you will receive some very cool perks like access to all the five parks, morning tours and more!

Central Park zoo and COVID-19

Like all other fields of our life, Central Park Zoo wasn’t spared by the current global coronavirus outbreak. That is why zoo authorities are asking for our help. You can donate from a form on the official website.


There is no better way to get in touch with wild nature in the heart of Manhattan than the Central Park Zoo. With its diversity it can take you from the frozen lands of the North pole, to the rainforests on the Equator in only a matter of minutes!

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