New York City Zoos

The Central Park Zoo

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"New York City Zoos" by Joan Scheier

Chimp and Keeper Chimp and Keeper Chimp and Keeper Chimp and Keeper
The Publisher: Arcadia Publishing

Central Park Zoo

This is an exerpt from the Introduction to the chapter of the Central Park Zoo.
written by John Rowden, curator of animals, Central Park Zoo.

The southeast corner of Central Park has a history of housing animals that is almost as old as the park itself. As early as the 1860's animals could be found in and around the Arsenal building which is still located at 64th street and Fifth Avenue.

Todays zoo is organized into three climatic zones, -- tropical, temperate and polar. Each of these zones allows visitors to have a year-round glimpse into the variety of wildlife that lives in those areas and exposes them to the fascinating variety of animal behavior.

The world has changed a great deal in the nearly 150 years since animals were exhibited in Central Park. WCS and the Central Park Zoo hope to educate people of all ages about the natural world and inspire them to protect it. In the heart of one of the densest urban landscapes in the world, we allow people to stop, take a breath and reconnect to natrue. We hope you will too.

Patty Cake

Patty Cake was born at the Central Park Zoo. Now you can find her all grown up in the Bronx Zoo chapter.

Patty Cake

The Author

Author in front of one of the eight concrete eagles that surround the sea lion pool. The eagles were installed in 1937 and were replaced in the same locations when the zoo remodeled in 1988

Joan As A Child

A View From The Air

When the zoo reopened in 1988 it was operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society. Sterile cages with bars were removed as were most of the large animals except for sea lions and polar bears. The zoo occupies the same location as did the menagerie of the 1860's and the Robert Moses Zoo of 1934.

CPZ Zoo From The Air

The Sea Lions

The sea lions are hand fed three times a day and taught behaviors that act as enrichment and keep them mentally stimulated.

Sea Lions


All animals large and small receive hands-on enrichment and behavioral training from the keepers. Here a marmoset is examining a meal worm given as an enrichment reward. Keepers will wear masks and gloves so they do not pass on germs to the primates.


Senior Sea Lions

Senior Sea lions Breezy and Seaweed ( on the right) occupy a separate enclosure that contains a heater, a waterfall and rocks to bask in the sun. Breezy is over 35 years old and Seaweed is 30. You can find photographs of them when they were younger in the Aquarium Chapter.

Breezy and Seaweed


The penguins are located in the polar zone. In the spring the keepers place rocks on the bottom of the enclosure for the penguins to use to build their nests. A chinstrap penguin chick has furry grey feathers which are not water proof. Both parents tend to the chick by feeding it and keeping it warm and safe until it can be on its own.

The Penquins

Snow Monkeys

This is three month old female snow monkey with her mother. The juveniles show an interest in almost anything that the older members of the troupe are doing. The face will darken as she gets older and thick fur will grow in over her ears.


You may order The Central Park Zoo Book and The New York City Zoos and Aquarium book at:

Amazon Barnes and Noble

Joan is available for book talks with slides, for both the Central Park Zoo and The New York City Zoos and Aquarium books. Please contact her through e-mail or