The Central Park Zoo is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of midtown Manhattan. Located at the southeast corner of Central Park, the zoo is one of the more popular attractions for families and locals alike. Though entrance fees are more expensive than the Queens or Prospect Park Zoo, I felt the $12 fee was more than fair given the overall quality of the facility and my experience as a visitor. If you're a fan of the Bronx Zoo but don't want to travel all the way up to the Bronx, the Central Park Zoo is the next best thing.
Though it looked small in area on the map, I was pleasantly surprised to discover there was a good variety of exhibits to discover. The tropic zone is a maze of palm fronds and vines, where birds of all shapes, colors, and sizes fly freely around the room. The Temperate Territory features curious creatures like Japanese macaque, snow leopard and red panda.
Maybe I just got lucky the day I visited, but I felt like the presence of zoo staff was more visible here than any of the other zoos I visited. I was never far from a staff member or volunteer who was able to field a question about an animal. Highlights of my visit included the snow leopard, the red panda, and the various birds inside the rainforest building.
Once you’re finished at the main zoo (no re-entry allowed) take a left out of the exit and continue under the stone bridge to the Children's Zoo. The rubbery ground cover will put a spring in your step as you walk around to see both familiar and exotic animals, such as the Peruvian cavy. Finish by feeding the goats. If visiting for a half-day, I recommend continuing onwards to lunch - perhaps a picnic in Central Park.