Zoos in New Jersey have it all—whether you are looking to get up close to an exotic species, learn more about wildlife education, or pet a friendly farm animal, you can do it in the Garden State. Zoos at any time of year are always an educational and fun day trip, and kids will love to see their favorite animals in different seasons. Scroll down to find a zoo in New Jersey near you to visit right now, or check out a petting zoo in NJ. (featured photo credit: @capemaycountyzoo)
Zoos in New Jersey And Nearby Worth The Trip
Part of the South Mountain Recreation Complex, Essex County’s Turtle Back Zoo in New Jersey is one of the most well-known and loved facilities to expose your children to wildlife from around the world. Check out the red panda, big cats, sea turtles, sea lions, stingrays at the touch station, giraffes, barnyard animals, and animals that call NJ home, including bears and wolves. And even if you’ve been here a bunch of times, there’s always something new—the zoo recently upgraded its wildly popular African Adventures section with the addition of Shores of Africa, an indoor exhibit of African penguins and pelicans, and features a hatchery. If you’re up for more fun, check out the rest of the complex, including a zip line adventure and the Regatta playground.
Open daily all year long
560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052
The 85 acres of wildlife exhibits make this zoo in southern New Jersey a staple for animal lovers. And did we mention it’s free? You have access to over 550 animals spanning 250 species, including cheetahs, red pandas, camels, snow leopards, lemurs, zebras, bears, and various monkeys. Littles will love going on a scavenger hunt (download a template from their website) and exploring this Cape May treasure.
Summer hours start March 10, 2023
707 North Route 9, Cape May, NJ 08210
Also known as the Bergen County Zoological Park, your family will leave with a heightened appreciation for the world’s wild places. Besides exploring “New World” animal exhibits of North and South America, with Andean Condors, American Alligators, and South American Pampas, this New Jersey zoo operates train rides, carousel rides, pony rides, and free live animal shows in the zoo amphitheater. This accredited animal sanctuary fosters relationships between the public and our animal neighbors to keep everybody educated and safe.
Regular hours start on April 1, 2023
216 Forest Avenue, Paramus, NJ 07652
Discover over 100 native North American species in this record-breaking zoo in New Jersey, founded in 1927 by Ralph and Elizabeth Space. With over 500 live animals, including monkeys, leopards, jaguars, coyotes, and buffalo, your family can spend the entire day engaged in wildlife fun while exploring the grounds and snagging priceless photo ops. Space Farms’ museum comprises nine buildings with over 50 antique cars and motorcycles, vintage dolls, artifacts, and much more.
Reopens April 2023
218 County Road 519, Wantage, NJ 07461
Popcorn Park is one of three shelters that comprise the Associated Humane Societies, the most extensive animal sheltering system in New Jersey. A visit to this sanctuary will allow your family to see up close various animals who were once abandoned, injured, abused, or ill and were taken into the facility for rehabilitation. Popcorn Zoo in New Jersey continues to do good for the Garden State’s wildlife, farm animals, and pets daily and teaches kids about the importance of helping these special creatures.
Open daily all year long
1 Humane Way, Forked River, NJ 08731
Visit the third floor of the Liberty Science Center to see the Wild About Animals exhibit, where your kids will spot cotton-top tamarin monkeys, naked mole rats, red-footed tortoises, and more. This Jersey City zoo in the museum has over one hundred animal species, and kids will have a ball watching the hermit crabs climb in the Hermit Crab Playground or a snake slither through a snake maze. And make sure to catch one of their Animal Encounter shows for more info about the animals.
Open on Wednesdays through Sundays
222 Jersey City Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07305
Though not your most traditional zoo in New Jersey, Lakota Wolf Preserve (the largest in the Northeast) is a treasured destination for animal lovers of all ages to experience the beauty and grace of these endangered creatures. Educational Wolf Watch Tours are led by the facility’s two owners and allow families to learn about the wolves’ pack structure, eating habits, human interaction, and more fun facts in a safe and interactive environment. This exceptional wildlife experience is recommended for New Jersey families looking for a memorable way to appreciate our animal friends.
Starting on March 12, 2023, afternoon tours will begin at 4 PM
89 Mt Pleasant Road, Columbia, NJ 07832
Transport your family to a real safari experience from the comfort of your car. Six Flags Safari Drive-Thru has over 1,200 animals from all over the planet and will leave you feeling as if you have just traveled the world. Stop by the entrance to pick up a guide to the animals and learn fun facts about them. As you wind along the 4.5-mile road, be on the lookout for giraffes, tigers, bears, and elephants in areas mimicking their natural habitats.
Opening day for the season is April 1, 2023
1 Six Flags Boulevard, Jackson, NJ 08527
The oldest zoo in New Jersey has free entry, letting you explore the habitats at your leisure or enjoy one of their zoo events. “Keeper Chats” are an excellent way for your kids to learn about animal friends from professional zookeepers—your kids can see the skills it takes to care for a big black bear up close and personal. After, enjoy the park and a family lunch in one of the lovely picnic areas between exhibits.
Open daily all year long
45 Mayor Aitken Drive, Bridgeton, NJ 08302
The first official zoo in the country, the Philadelphia Zoo opened its doors in 1874 and today has 42 acres with over 1,900 animals. Kids will be in awe of the animals at this zoo, which features Amur tigers, gorillas, giraffes, and even a white rhino. Don’t miss the 330-foot overhead passageway (the first in the world), where you can see lions, pumas, jaguars, and more walk right over your head. But that’s not all—you can also come face to face with an endangered primate and learn what conservationists are doing to save them at the PECO Primate Reserve.
Open daily all year long
3400 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19104
Visit the 265 acres with 10,000 animals inside and out. You’ll see Siberian tigers, snow leopards, Magellanic penguins, and more, as well as herds of animals that feel as if you’re watching them in their natural habitats. Besides the expansive outdoor viewing areas (make sure you bring comfy shoes and a stroller for little ones; there’s a lot of walking), you can go inside to special exhibits featuring langurs at JungleWorld and lemurs at Madagascar for a treat in any season.
Extended hours begin April 1, 2023
2300 Southern Blvd., Bronx, NY 10460
Which zoos in New Jersey are on your bucket list?
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