We are big fans of zoos, and make an effort to visit as many as we can on our various travels.
To that end, we’re members of the Wildlife Conservation Society, an organization that runs various New York City-area zoos and an aquarium. They include:
The Prospect Park Zoo was the last one we visited, and I was quite disappointed at what we saw on display at the zoo.
I’ve attached a map for frame-of-reference.
In just about every section designed to accommodate an animal, most of the time you get just that – one animal. Want to see an emu? Assuming it’s in an area where you can view it (we saw it hiding wayyyyyyy in the back of the enclosure), you’re more than welcome to feed it. On a side-note, feeding emus is fun and I would advise anybody who has the chance, to take advantage. It’s sad, but the song that kept popping into my head was “The loneliest number is one.”
The entire time we kept waiting for the moment that would impress us, and make us want to come back. No such moment came.
Take the aviary for example, and I use that term most loosely. Normally I have to be cajoled to enter an aviary, as I’m still getting over my aversion to animals. When we entered the aviary, I realized it didn’t appear that there were many birds at all. It’s probably a good thing because it was about the size of a large bedroom. There were some ducks (ho-hum) and a handful of birds in trees that were only identifiable by the contrast in color.
There is some charm in the Barn, a place I imagine would be fun for kids, but even there the animals were not free to roam around you and you could only get close to some of them.
As always, the sea lion continues to be my favorite animal, and as the map indicates, it’s the highlight of the zoo. We attended a feeding, and the sea lions ate and did some tricks. I always enjoy it no matter how many places I’ve seen it occur. There were also some really friendly black Tamarin monkeys that we enjoyed interacting with through the glass. Also, how anyone can see a twenty pound rabbit and not smile is beyond me.
All that said, let me make something clear. The zoo is not BAD. It’s not offensive, it’s just small. It’s a mini-zoo in a big town. The Gift Shop is seasonal. The cafe consists of vending machines. The staff was friendly, the ambiance was pleasant enough for a decent day out.
As we’re going through the zoo, I came to the sad realization mentioned in the title. As I posted here, the WCS is facing some giant budget cuts. It might be a good idea to close shop. Brooklynites will still have the New York Aquarium, Botanical Gardens, and about a thousand other things to do without getting on a bridge. Perhaps it would be a good idea to leave the petting-zooish Barn for kids to visit, but the bulk of the animals there seemingly would be able to be integrated into the other zoos in New York City without causing too much of a burden. The staff should be able to be assigned similar jobs at the other zoos now that the number of animals and attendance in the respective zoos would have increased.
Obviously this is hardly an enjoyable solution, but it should save the WCS a lot of money and help save the aquarium and the other zoos. While you’re here, sign the petition to protect the WCS here.