It was Yom Kippur and Eid Al-Adha last week, which caused many of the New York schools to close for a few days. T and I took the opportunity to keep exploring, so we tried Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Zoo.
This was our third New York Zoo (Bronx Zoo and Central Park Zoo previously explored), and was probably the best for very young children in that it is small and cheap. You can do the entire place in a few hours.
Set inside Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, we spent quite a long time wandering through the woodland paths trying to find it in a misguided attempt to hack straight across the park. Big mistake – you’re definitely better off walking straight down the busy Flatbush Avenue.
The main attraction seemed to be feeding time for the three Sea Lions, which takes place at 11.30am, 2pm and 4pm each day. The Sea Lions obligingly waved and splashed the children, to squeals of delight. T watched with solemn eyes as they circled and sunbathed on the rocks, noticing the way their fur changed from shiny dark to matt light brown in the sun.
She also enjoyed the baboon enclosure, especially the pair of youngsters that were playing rough and tumble, frequently scrambling up the glass to slap it with the flats of their hands. Muddy hand prints were improbably high up on the glass.
The real highlight, however, was the Barn section, where you can pet and feed approachable animals including alpacas, goats, sheep, pigs and miniature Zebu cows. The food pellets were dispensed from rows of bright red gumball machines for 50 cents, which was in itself an attraction. It took T several minutes to work herself up to offer the pellets to the tiniest and most enchanting of Zebu calves, as she was so unnerved by the long black tongue. I suddenly had a flashback to my own childhood in Nairobi when a giraffe startled seven-year-old-me. The feeling of astonishment as the purple-blue tongue curled around the backs of my fingers to lick up the food pellet at the Giraffe Centre…
The Barn also had a fun Daisy Milking exhibit, where kids can learn how to milk cows on life size painted wooden models, complete with milking stool and bucket.
There’s also a nice, winding nature trail for kids to explore, with startlingly life-like models dotted about as you search for the next animal enclosure.
The food is a bit of a let-down. The first hiccough at the Sea Lion Store & Cafe was that you have to walk past the toys before you get to the food (always a problem with my kids). The second was a language barrier – the food was so tucked away I couldn’t see it, so when I asked the guy behind the till where the restaurant was, he sent me over to the rest rooms. Faced with the ladies’ loo, I turned back and had to specify ‘where can I buy some food?’ He then pointed me to a drinks fridge, which had about five, dry sandwiches and some salads you could choose from. I’d definitely recommend bringing a picnic or eating elsewhere.
Tips if you’re visiting with your own kids:
- It’s best for younger children, older ones may be a little underwhelmed
- Tickets are fairly cheap. Children aged 3-12 cost $5, and 13-65 year olds cost $8. Under 3s go free.
- Time your visit for the Sea Lion Feedings at 11.30am, 2pm and 4pm
- Bring your own food or eat elsewhere
This week’s Highs & Lows:
- B’s potty training has finally appeared to sink in! We have had eight consecutive days without any accidents, which is a big game changer
- My birthday! C and the girls gave me a lie in and then brought breakfast in bed, followed by afternoon tea at Alice’s Tea Cup. Bliss
- Seeing the girls enjoying their trip to the dentist, complete with a TV screen showing netflix