As I told in the past days on my social pages, today I’ll show you the first post of the new section (Travel Notes). In this section I’ll share with you my impressions, suggestions and tricks for discovering the Big Apple. I don’t mind to be a tourist guide, I want only give you my considerations about different places, some advice for saving money and my personal and sincere opinion about several attractions which you cannot find in the guides.
I’ll start talking about one of my favorite adventure in New York: my trip in Bronx Zoo.
Everyone who visited New York saw the Central Park Zoo, it is the most famous zoo in the city, but, in my opinion, it is not the best one. I had big expectation about it, maybe because I saw the movie “Madagascar”, I thought to find there the same animals (lions, zebras, hippos and giraffes)… they are not there! Of course the zoo has great exhibitions like the penguins one and the sea lions, and it is true that the clock carousel is adorable (maybe if you are interested in I can talk about this zoo in a future post), but definitely the Central Park zoo is not the best zoo in New York.
Talking about the main topic of this post, the Bronx Zoo, the aspect I mostly love it is not only its incredible dimension or the variety of species that you can find in, but the feeling that I had when I came in. It was like entered in a “bubble” separated from the rest of the city. It was almost the same feeling I had when I walked for the first time in Central Park and I discovered that, step by step, the incredible noise of the city disappeared and the only thing I can heard was the silence and the calm that the park gave to me.
Coming inside the Bronx Zoo give to me the same sensation, I left the traffic, the sounds of the city and the roads and I discovered a new place full of nature and peace.
Why the Bronx Zoo is so special?
This zoo is the bigger metropolitan zoo in the world, and one of the biggest in North America. It is really easy arriving at the zoo also for tourists: a ride in subway or in a bus is enough! The zoo is located in Bronx neighborhood, it comprises 265 acres with 4,000 animals representing 650 different species. With Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and New York Aquarium, it is part of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The zoo opened the 8th November 1899, with 843 animals in 22 exhibitions. Like all the zoo managed by the WSC, Bronx Zoo has a field dedicated to the children (the Children Zoo), where kids learn about farm animals interacting with them.
Following all that you need to know if you plan a view in the Bronx Zoo:
- Location: 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx Park, Bronx, 10460, New York. There are several entrance gates. If you getting there with you car the parking cost is around $ 15.00 for all day. In my opinion the best way to getting to the Zoo is the subway, especially if you are in Manhattan.
- Direction: it is available a dedicated bus service (BxM11), it makes stops along Madison Avenue, between 26th and 99th Street (more info, schedule and fares). I prefer the subway ride: Green line (4, 5 or 6) to Uptown and Bronx until 180th street, after that follow the direction for the zoo (almost 5 minute of walk); you can also use red line, train 2 to Uptown e Bronx, until the same stop at 180th street. On the Zoo’s website (Bronx Zoo website) you can find other info, but in my opinion, my suggestion works better than the one propose in the website.
- Hours: from the 1st of November to the 31st of March from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 pm, in spring and summer time, from the 1st of April to the 31st of October, the zoo opens from 11.00 am to 5.30 pm. Last entry 30 minutes before the closing hour.
- Tickets: The price is different due to the seasons and also if you buy it online or at the gate (buy tickets). Online tickets are little cheaper than the other ones. My suggestion is to buy a Total Experience Tickets because with few dollar more you can viewing all the exhibitions and using all the zoo facilities. If you can, visit the zoo on wednesday because in that day the tickets (only the tickets buyed at the gate) are on discounted and you can save more than $ 6.00.
There are a lots of animals… in order to see everything you need to spend the entire day at the zoo. Following the exhibitions divided for location (for the complete list of animals and exhibitions look at the Bronx Zoo website)
- Wild Asia: is a really big area so I suggest to use the monorail. For the Monorail there will be a long line, but I can assure that it worth it! You can observe deers, bisons, wild horses… and, most important, you can see asian tigers, rhinos and asian elephants. Some animals, like the elephants, can be viewed only from the monorail. So I suggest absolutely to take a ride on it! During the ride the driver give you some information regarding the different species showed and tell you some curiosities regarding the single animals.
- Jungle World: is an exhibit in a closed space that reproduces the habitat and the climate condition of a jungle. Here are showed different species of monkeys, tropical fishes, birds, reptiles etc… but my favorite was the black panther!
- Africa Plain: it is simply amazing!… antelopes, deers, a bunch of birds, ostriches, giraffes and a small group of awesome lions! During my visit, the lions were my first WOW!
- Big Bears Area: in this part of the zoo are showed a group of Grizzlies and one white Polar Bear. My impression was that the Grizzlies are playful instead the Polar bear is a little more calm and relaxed!
- Baboon Reserve : in this field is recreated the perfect habitat for the conservancy of different species of baboons.
- Congo Gorillas: it is a field that reproduces a the Congo forests where you can look a family of giant gorillas through some windows.The second time I visited the zoo, the gorillas are really closed to windows, and I could observe them very well. Actually the impression I had it was that they are not too different from us…
- Butterfly Garden: it is a dedicated building which contain more than 1000 butterflies from 44 different species, and an amazing garden full of blossoms and flowers. The butterflies fly free and don’t have fear of the human and often a butterfly can pose on you! Is completely forbidden to touch the butterflies. Inside the building there is another little structure that is a sort of nursery butterfly’s cocoons and inside there is team of expertises that supervising the entire life of those fragile insects.
- Mouse House: is a structure which hosts several species and types of mouse. You can find inside the common mouse and also a very strange rodents.
- World of Reptiles and Bug’s Carousels: are a serie transparent boxes with every type of insect (including a giant tarantula) and reptiles. Not only snakes and strange lizards, but also few alligators, a couple of huge crocodiles and turtles. My favorite animal in this exhibition was gorgeous giant Galapagos turtle!
- Himalaya Highland e Mountain Tiger: in my opinion the tiger exhibit was the best in the zoo. The tigers are inside an appropriate habitat and you can seeing them through windows.
- Zoo Center: is a big building, at the main entrance there are two statues of rhinos in life size. In this part of the zoo you can observe few rhinos but also the epic Komodo Dragons.
- Madagascar: is another separate building that reproduces the vegetation and the weather of the Madagascar island. Obviously the main attraction inside are the lemures, but you can see also some fossa (the lemure’s biggest enemy), mangustas and a lot of birds that fly free inside the structure.
- Sea Lions: this exhibition is present in almost all New York zoos. At 11.00 am and 3.00 pm you can see the sea lion feeding.
- World of birds: in this big pavilion are showed an huge amount of birds divided by: birds of prey (eagles, owls, condor and vultures); birds from the world, like paradise birds and gorgeous parrots; aquatic birds like pink flamingo and at least but not last, sea bird, especially penguins. At 3.30 pm you can see the penguins’ feeding.
- American Bisons and Turtles: in a big area located on the north east part of the zoo, where you can see american bisons and turtles. The two species are separated by the Bronx River.
- Children Zoo: is a little pavilion dedicated to the children with common animal like goats, lambs and other farmer animals
- 4D Theater: in this cinema is showed a short movie in 4 dimension (I had not see the movie).
Almost everywhere there are restrooms, and food areas with outdoor or indoor seatings. You can also find at any corner a little snack cart with beverages and iced snak, like the one in the picture (very cheerful but nothing special!)
In 1906,a pigmeo of Mbuti named Ota Benga, was brought to the Bronx Zoo, as an exhibit, he became fond of an orangutan named Dohong, able to perform tricks and imitate human behavior. Benga spent some of his time in the Monkey House exhibit and due of that it become a part of it. There were a lot of protest and after few times the zoo finally removed Benga from the grounds. He spent the rest of his life in USA mostly in Virginia, until his death in 1916 (he suicided).
Here my list of suggestions for the best experience at the Bronx Zoo:
- Arrive early: the zoo is huge and there are a bunch of thing to see;
- Running shoes: even if there is the Monorail in Wild Asia, and even if you can use the shuttle to take a ride in almost all fields of the park, there are a lot to walk. So I suggest comfortable shoes
- Dress in layers: the visit can take all the day and there are different climates conditions in different habitats (for example in Madagascar’s building there is a tropical climate and it is hot and wet) so you have to be prepared!.
- Water: bring a little bottle with you and refill it at the fountains dislocated in the park. The water in Ny is very expensive and in the park you can pay almost 3 or 4 Dollar for a bottle of water
- Camera, video camera, cell phone and spare batteries for capture your favorite moments.
In this video some of my shots….
In this post my first suggestion for a different view of New York’s neighborhood. In my opinion the Zoo’s viewing is very interesting and enjoying not only for kids. Moreover, I understand that if you are in vacancy perhaps the Bronx is a little far from Manhattan. In that case I suggest you to visit at least the Central Park Zoo.
The magic of this zoo is to discover the child side of everyone… and the commitment to the protection and conservation of species is one of the strongest point of the Bronx Zoo (for more information about it I suggest you to read the wikipedia page of the zoo)
I hope you enjoy this post, and I hope it could be useful for someone I hope also that you like the main idea of this new section! Let me know your opinions in the comments! Ask me if there are some places in New York for which you want a sort of sincere review and experiences!
Tricks in this post: 1. Zoo del Bronx history; 2. Location and travel info; 3. Tickets and discounts; 4. What see; 5. Practical suggestion for a best view; 6. Curiosities.