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When thinking about flora and fauna exploration, New York City is probably not the first destination that springs to mind! The Bronx Zoo is the world’s largest urban zoo, covering 265 acres of wildlife habitats and landscaped gardens, which are traversed by the river Bronx.
In fact, Bronx Zoo consists of four integrated zoos and one aquarium, all of which are managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Bronx Zoo opened its doors to the general public on 8th November 1899.
Located at 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx Park, the zoo originally featured some 843 animals in 22 different enclosures. Since 2010 Bronx Zoo has delighted visitors with more than 4,000 animals from 650 different species, some of which are on the endangered list. There are permanent “exhibitions” of animal groups, such as World of Reptiles and World of Birds and enclosures that resemble geographical zones on Earth, such as the Wild Asia or African Plains habitats, where storks, lions and zebras have found a new home.
In the Baboon Reserve, an Ethiopian Highlands enclosure, visitors can see a charming group of geladas go about their daily routines of grooming, feeding, playing and having fun. In other habitats, which are mostly open for animals to roam free, there are giraffes, ibexes, gazelles and nyalas. Animals that are likely to take a bite out of visitors’ legs are naturally in secure enclosures. The African wild dogs can be watched going about their business by standing in a viewing pavilion behind several inches of safety glass.
Bronx Zoo also has an indoor Jungle World, where visitors can watch some 800 different animals such as otters, tapirs, gibbons, leopards and Fly River Turtles. In the dense foliage above tourists’ heads there are 21 airborne exhibits showing off their aeronautical skills: giant Indian fruit bats displaying their nearly 5 feet wide wingspan to the fullest effect! Jungle World has waterfalls and river beds, ponds and a Butterfly Garden and a Monkey House with cute tamarinds, marmosets and white-faced sakis.
Another highlight of Bronx Zoo is their Madagascar Exhibit, which is arranged like a miniature world with sifaka lemurs, Nile crocodiles, hissing cockroaches and fossa, a distant relation of the mongoose.
Kids will love a visit to the Mouse House, where stinky little skunks are playing behind the exhibit’s glass to keep visitors protected from their fragrant aroma! At regular intervals there are feeding displays at the sea lion and penguin enclosure, too.
How to get there: The AirTrain from Terminal 4 at John F Kennedy Airport connects with the NYC subway service and the main Bus Terminal as well as Grand Central Station and Penn Station on a half hourly service (for more info, please visit www.NYCAirporter.com). Several suppliers of car hire rentals have their car hire service desks at John F Kennedy Airport, too.
Public transport is available from the city centre via BXM11 express buses, which stop along Madison Avenue between 26th and 99th Streets, before dropping passengers off just outside the Zoo’s entrance at Gate B. A combination of taking the metro trains North Harlem Line to Fordham and then hopping on the Bx9 bus going eastward to 183rd Street and Southern Boulevard will also get tourists to the Bronx Zoo entrance. Subways no. 2 and 5 to East Tremont Avenue/West Farms Square are the closest subway connections.