Learn about the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States, the Bronx Zoo.
Leaping lemurs and hissing cockroaches are among the many exotic creatures at the Bronx Zoo. The largest metropolitan zoo in the United States, the Bronx Zoo covers 265 acres and contains over 4,000 animals.
The Bronx Zoo opened to the public on November 8, 1899. Located in Bronx, New York, it is a part of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), whose purpose is to save wildlife and preserve wild places throughout the world. Established in 1805 as the New York Zoological Society, the WCS was one of the first conservation organizations in the United States. Because of the success of the Bronx Zoo, the WCS was able to acquire the New York Aquarium, the Central Park Zoo, the Queens Zoo and the Prospect Park Zoo. The WCS's headquarters remains at the Bronx Zoo.
As of 2008, the Bronx Zoo has over 15 exhibits and attractions. In the African Plains exhibit, visitors can get a closer look at zebras, lions and giraffes as if they were on a real African safari. A glass-fronted pavilion allows guests to view African wild dogs as they roam, swim and dig.
JungleWorld allows visitors to observe the sights and sounds of a tropical forest. The man-made jungle is filled with nearly 800 critters, including otters, gibbons, tapirs and Fly River turtles. Also on display are scorpions, stag beetles and fire-bellied toads -- behind glass, of course.
Congo Gorilla Forest is a 6.5-acre plot of land that is home to over 20 western lowland gorillas. Visitors can view the gorillas romping and interacting in a natural habitat as though they were observing them in the African wild.
The Children's Zoo is a hands-on, interactive area for younger visitors to learn all about animals and their natural habitats. Guests can climb into a bird's nest, feed sheep, llamas and goats and take pictures with animals in the photo booth.
Other exhibits include Tiger Mountain where guests can observe Siberian tigers performing training exercises, hunting for food and cooling off in the swimming hole; Madagascar, which allows guests an up-close view of Nile crocodiles, lemurs and hissing cockroaches; Astor Court and Sea Lion Pool are located at the center of the zoo and offer visitors a chance to witness sea lions as they swim, play and eat; and Big Bear Exhibit, where guests can take a closer peek at grizzlies and polar bears.
The Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have been working for more than 100 years to save and protect wildlife and wild places around the world. According to the WCS, their field research has helped to create over 100 protected areas since the early 1900s. In 2008, WCS was at work in 53 nations around the world. Every year, over 4 million people visit the Bronx Zoo and other WCS parks in New York, where they learn about endangered animals and why it is important to save them. The Bronx Zoo and WCS are leaders in providing excellent education to children, teenagers and adults about the state of wild animals and wild places. The Bronx Zoo's award-winning Education Department is committed to educating visitors through various workshops, summer programs, guided tours and family overnight stays. The zoo staff provides engaging and interactive opportunities for children and adults alike to find out more about how to protect animals around the world.
The Bronx Zoo and WCS breed animals in the zoo, and this is perhaps their greatest contribution to wildlife preservation. The Species Survival Plan, created by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), is a coordinated effort by zookeepers to sustain the population of healthy captive animals so that no animals are taken from the wild to be used in zoos or aquariums. The Bronx Zoo and WCS, along with Central Park Zoo, the Prospect Park Zoo, the New York Aquarium and the Queens Zoo, are involved with 64 separate Species Survival Plans. At the Bronx Zoo, the tigers seen at Tiger Mountain are being bred as a part of the Species Survival Plan. Zookeepers record a detailed account of every tiger and its history. Because of the efforts at the Bronx Zoo, tigers are no longer taken from the wild for zoos -- every zoo tiger was born in a zoo. The Bronx Zoo also manages the largest collection of snow leopards in the United States and has bred six generations since 1966.
The Bronx Zoo also strives to enrich the lives of its animals by conducting regular programs designed to exercise animals' minds and bodies. The public can view Animal Enrichment Programs at nearly every exhibit throughout the zoo.