13 Zoos in New Jersey To Visit This Spring

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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. And with COVID-19 still hanging around, a trip to the zoo is a safe outing, since it’s mainly outside and they are open with timed ticketing or capacity limits (though it’s best to check with them before you head out). Scroll down to find the perfect zoo in New Jersey to visit in 2021.

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featured photo via @capemaycountyzoo

13 Zoos in New Jersey That Are Worth The Trip

zoos in New Jersey, Turtleback Zoo

See pink flamingos and more at the Turtle Back Zoo in NJ via @mbrahney

Turtle Back Zoo

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, stingray touch station, giraffes, barnyard animals, as well as 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 their 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.
560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052
(973) 731-5800

cape may county zoo in New Jersey

Just monkeying around at the Cape May Zoo in New Jersey via @capemaycountyzoo

Cape May County Park & Zoo

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 a variety of monkeys. Littles will love going on a scavenger hunt (download a template from their website) and exploring this Cape May treasure.
707 North Route 9, Cape May, NJ 08210
(609) 465-5271

Van Saun County Park

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, South American Pampas, and many more. This New Jersey zoo operates train rides, carousel rides, pony rides, and free live animal shows in the zoo amphitheater. This accredited animal sanctuary is dedicated to fostering relationships between the public and our animal neighbors to keep everybody educated and safe. The zoo is currently free and operating in its off-season schedule; look out for their spring hours.
216 Forest Avenue, Paramus, NJ 07652
(201) 336-7275

space farms zoo in New Jersey

Oh Deer! Space Farms Zoo in New Jersey is one not to miss. via @morganmanages

Space Farms Zoo & Museum

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 component comprises nine buildings that feature over 50 antique cars and motorcycles, vintage dolls, artifacts, and much more.
218 County Road 519, Wantage, NJ 07461
(973) 875-5800

zoos in New Jersey, popcorn park zoo

A box of popcorn is a must while seeing animals at the Popcorn Zoo.

Popcorn Park Refuge & Zoo

Popcorn Park is one of three shelters that comprise the Associated Humane Societies, the largest animal sheltering system in New Jersey. A visit to this sanctuary will allow your family to visit up close with various animals who have been taken into the facility that was once abandoned, injured, abused, or ill. 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.
1 Humane Way, Forked River, NJ 08731
(609) 693-1900

Liberty Science Center

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 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. 
222 Jersey City Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07305
(201) 915-3403

Lakota wolf preserve

Check out this wolf lounging at the Lakota Wolf Preserve in NJ via @lakotawolfpreserve

Lakota Wolf Preserve

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 lead 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 who are looking for a memorable way to appreciate our animal friends. Reservations must be made in advance, and there is a limit of 25 people per tour.
89 Mt Pleasant Road, Columbia, NJ 07832
(908) 496-9244 

Johnson Park Zoo

If it’s a quiet, quaint, (and free) zoo you are looking for, Johnson Park Zoo in Middlesex County, New Jersey, is perfect for your family. This accessible park and zoo is an easy way to have a day of fun with your little ones. Located along the Raritan River, your kids will be able to come face to face with goats, llamas, pigs, and horses while mom enjoys the lovely scenery. After, check out the playground area and a family picnic around the park’s grill stations.
River Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854
(732) 745-3900

zoos in New Jersey

Say cheese with the giraffes at the Six Flags Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure via @familyroadtraveled

Six Flags Wild Safari Drive-Thru Adventure 

Transport your family to another world all while staying in the comfort of your own vehicle. Six Flags offers a Safari Drive-Thru with over 1,200 animals from six continents. Watch tigers, bears, and elephants in their natural habitat during your 1.5-3 hour tour. Tickets must be purchased ahead of time, and reservations are required. The opening day for this drive-thru experience is March 20, 2021.
1 Six Flags Boulevard, Jackson, NJ 08527
(732) 928-2000

Cohanzick Zoo

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 a great way for your kids to learn about our animal friends from professional zookeepers—your kids can see the skills it takes to care for a big black bear up close and personal. Make a day of it to enjoy the park picnic and enjoy a family lunch in one of the lovely picnic areas between exhibits.
45 Mayor Aitken Drive, Bridgeton, NJ 08302
(856) 453-1675

Rizzo’s Wildlife World

Do you want to see lizards, snakes, insects, turtles, and mammals? Explore 4,700 square feet of exhibit space with 2,000 gallons of aquatic exhibits at this indoor zoo in New Jersey. If you don’t want to travel, Rizzo’s will come to you with their virtual zoom programs, accommodating families and groups. Currently, Rizzo’s Wildlife World is closed to the public, but you can coordinate private visits for a group of family or friends of up to 10-12 people ahead of time.
1 Gold Mine Road, Flanders, NJ 07836
(973)586-0444

Merrill Park

In the South Branch of the Rahway River, this animal haven is open from dawn to dusk. You will see pigs, goats, a peacock, a horse, and more. Interpretive signage is also on display to make the experience educational and fun. When you visit this free zoo in New Jersey, you can also explore 182 acres of playing fields, picnic groves, and playgrounds. Make sure to visit the “progressive playground,” too.
Middlesex Turnpike, Woodbridge, NJ 07095
(732) 745-3900

Thompson Park

Both farm and exotic animals are on display within fenced-in areas from dawn to dusk daily. You can see an emu, goats, pigs, peacocks, turkey, deer, and more at this park. After visiting the animals, take advantage of the 675-acre park featuring playing fields, picnic groves, hiking trails, an 18-hole disc golf course, and a 30-acre lake that is periodically stocked with fish.
Forsgate Drive, Jamesburg/Monroe Township 08831
(732) 745-3900

Which zoos in New Jersey will be on your bucket list this spring? Or which NJ aquariums would you love to visit? We’d love to hear more about them in the comments below.

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About Author

Chelsea is a freelance writer and photographer based in the kid-friendly community of Asbury Park, and she loves sharing tips and news about this cultural beach town with NJMOM readers. When she's not discovering new bike trails, playing in her handbell choir, or reading on the beach, Chelsea works as a Children's Library Associate at a public library. You can catch her out in Asbury Park watching her husband play drums with talented local artists - be sure to come say hello!

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