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Prospect Park Zoo

The Prospect Park Zoo is located in Brooklyn, New York. It opened in 1890 as a menagerie and a city zoo in 1935.

The zoo is operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) who also operate Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and the New York Aquarium.

It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).


Discovery Centre

This interactive centre allows visitors to get up close with animals and pretend to be a zookeeper. You can pretend to be a vet and perform a check-up on an animal.

Sealion Training Sessions

Each day keepers conduct health checks on the animals to keep them stimulated. You can observe these.



New York,

United States

Year Opened


Land Size

4.9ha (12.1 acres)

Number of Animals


Number of Species



When Prospect Park was originally planned during 1866 it included a zoological garden. But this plan did not originally come to fruition. Animals still featured in the park though with a waterfowl pond, deer and sheep yards.

A menagerie came in to being in the park when three cinnamon bears were donated to the park in 1890. This began a trend throughout the rest of the decade with species such as deer, seals, buffalo, peacocks, foxes and bears all being donated by the rich and prominent. This would continue through till the early 20th century.

Robert Moses saw the bringing together of this collection in to a proper zoo and the Prospect Park Zoo was formalized on July 3 1935 when it opened to the public for the first time. It was centred around a seal pool surrounded by 6 buildings. This was built using large amounts of Civil Works and Works Progress Administration funding. Features of the zoo included elephants, lions, monkeys and birds along with the seals.

Change was slow over the coming years though and by 1983 it was severely deteriorated. And an accident where a boy passed away after falling in to the polar bit underscored the facilities shortcomings.

The Prospect Park Zoo’s savior would be an agreement signed between the city and the NY Zoological Society (since renamed Wildlife Conservation Society) to manage the Central, Prospect Park and Queens Zoos for 50 years starting in 1980.

It would take another 7 years to determine the plans for updating Prospect Park Zoo. This led to the zoo breaking ground on a $37 million restoration in 1989. The renovated zoo was completed and opened on October 5, 1993. It came in $19 million over budget and took two more years than estimated.

The renovated zoo shifted to a focus on smaller animals and education. This was accompanied by a name change to the ‘Prospect Park Wildlife Conservation Centre’ a name which was used for several years.

A new zoo was not enough to stave off danger though. During 2003 when budget troubles hit the city it was proposed that all funding to the zoo would be cut. It took two months of negotiations to determine the zoo’s future.

An estimated fee of $8 million to close the zoo though would outweigh the $6 million operating budget. As such the zoos remained open but with reduced city funding leading to a doubling of admission fees.

Main Exhibits

Sea lion court

At the centre of the zoo is the sea lion pool. These delightful creatures are some of the park’s stars.

Barn and Garden

This area features domesticated creatures with which children can get up close and personal. Species housed here include sheep, alpacas and pigs.

Hall of Animals

This space features some of the smallest residents in the Prospect Park Zoo. Here you may meet species such as dwarf mongoose, dart frogs and geckoes.

Animal Lifestyles

This zone explores the lives of animals through exhibits of pallas cat, tamarins and aracari. The feature exhibit is home to a group of hamadryas baboon.

Discovery Trail

This outdoor habitat allows up close views of a range of animals. It also includes interactive features for visitors to experience life amongst the animals. Species on display her include red panda, tufted deer, dingo, emu, otter and prairie dog.

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