Jake rides a red and gold cockroach on the Bug Carousel at the Bronx Zoo.
by Marianne A. Campolongo
Opened in 1899, the Bronx Zoo has delighted children and their parents for more than a century. It’s impossible to explore its 265 acres in a single day, but for those of us living in Westchester, it’s easy to visit often.
A Treat for All Ages
This summer, I visited with my friend Kelly and her children, 6-year-old Jake and 2-year-old Alexandria (“Alex”). First up was the Wild Asia Monorail. Riding above 40 lush acres of natural habitats, the children spotted rhinos in the water, turtles sunning themselves on rocks, a red panda asleep in a tree, elephants, and their favorites, the tigers. From there, we went to Tiger Mountain for a closer view as the huge cats cavorted in the water, cooling off on a hot summer’s day, quite a change from watching them play in the snow last winter.
Although the Wild Asia Monorail only runs May through October, Tiger Mountain and the Himalayan Highlands, home to red pandas and snow leopards, let you see the animals outdoors year round; the elephants are on view indoors during cold weather.
All Creatures Great and Small
Next stop was the Butterfly Garden, an indoor oasis with a carp pool and hummingbirds as well as exotic and domestic butterflies and moths. Though Alex looked startled when a zoo employee placed a luna moth on her dress, she couldn’t wait to tell her brother Jake all about it. Both children enjoyed popping their heads into c
utouts to pose as bumblebees as we left the garden. This seasonal exhibit stays open through October.
Fall Tricks and Treats
The crisp, cool days of autumn are an excellent time to visit. Many animals are more active in the cool weather, all the exhibits are open, and weekends bring Boo at the Zoo Halloween-themed entertainment (see page 20 for details). Enjoy the Haunted Safari Adventure (The World of Darkness becomes a spooky mansion), hayrides through “Creepy Hollows,” crafts, puppet shows, magic by David Levin, and games, dances and sing-alongs with Gigi and the Lend Me a Hand Band. Don’t forget a pillowcase to take home goodies from trick-or-treating locations around the zoo.
A western lowland gorilla at the Bronx Zoo.
by Marianne A. Campolongo
Giant Babies and Bouncing Bugs
Open year-round in a sheltered enclosure, the Bug Carousel was a
big hit. Jake took several turns riding up and down on various outsized bugs. As we sauntered through the African Plains, on our way to the carousel, peacocks wandering freely, baby giraffes towering over the human grown-ups and a pair of lions enthralled the children. There was so much to do that we never made it to the Children’s Zoo or several other exhibits.
I’m not sure who had more fun, me or the children. Today’s zoo with open fields and un-caged animals is very different from the zoo I grew up with, but despite the changes it still has the same feel – wonderful turn-of-the-century architecture, ancient trees, lazy winding paths and rushing waterfalls. It’s nice to know that along with preserving wildlife, they have preserved that classic charm.
Marianne A. Campolongo is a freelance writer and photographer who shot her first roll of film at the Bronx Zoo at the age of 6. You can see more recent Zoo pix at www.campyphotos.com.
When You Go …
Bronx Zoo – 2300 Southern Blvd., Bronx, NY. 718-220-5100; www.bronxzoo.com.
Hours: (March 31-Nov. 4) Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Weekends/Holidays until 5:30 p.m.; (Nov. 5-March 29) 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Admission: General Admission (year-round): $16.95 adults, $11.95 children ages 3-12, free for ages 2 and under.
Yearly Membership includes free admission to the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and other benefits $129/family, $169/premium (adds parking, guest pass and attractions).
Admission is free on Wednesdays with a suggested donation (parking and attractions are extra).