More than 650 species of animals (nearly 3,500 individuals) live in this spacious zoological park, home to the rare deerlike okapi as well as to North American otters, Komodo dragons, and western lowland gorillas. The newest (and most ambitious) habitat here is the Toyota Elephant Passage, a 10-acre complex featuring Asian elephants, rhinos, and gibbons in a re-creation of their natural habitat, as well as a simulation of a rural village coexisting with the pachyderms. The zoo has long been an innovator in re-creating realistic habitats: Bear Mountain, built in 1918, was the first naturalistic animal habitat in the United States and is now a National Historic Landmark. The zoo is also home to the nation’s first natural gas–powered train ($2). An especially kid-friendly attraction is the Conversation Carousel ($2), featuring wood-carved renditions of such endangered species as okapi, polar bears, Komodo dragons, and hippos. A cafeteria serves full meals, and picnicking is popular, too. Feeding times are posted near the zoo entrance so you can time your visit to see the animals when they are most active. Allow from 2 to 4 hours.
- Frommer's Staff