Prospect Park Zoo – good for younger kids

Prospect Park Zoo - milking
Prospect Park Zoo - Golden Tamarind
Golden Tamarind

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.

Prospect Park Zoo - Sea Lions
Sea Lions sunbathing

Prospect Park Zoo - Sea Lions

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.

Prospect Park Zoo - Zebu calf
Zebu calf

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.

Prospect Park Zoo - milking
Little milk maid

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.

Prospect Park Zoo - hours and prices

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
Prospect Park Zoo map
Prospect Park Zoo map

This week’s Highs & Lows: 

Highs:

  • 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

Lows:

  • Being late for my own birthday lunch as I got stuck on the wrong side of West Street waiting for the Pope’s motorcade to drive past from the nearby 9/11 Memorial. There must have been at least forty vehicles
B potty trained
B – potty trained at last
Birthday breakfast
Birthday breakfast
Birthday breakfast in bed
Birthday breakfast in bed

Author: Alex

Hello. Toddling Round New York is my own little blog of our family's experience of moving young kids from London to New York... And of having a baby out here. They are my own baby steps of exploring this incredible city. I lived in five countries in four continents growing up, so you'd think I'd be good at this by now. Here you'll find stories and photographs of our adventures, the highs and the lows of expat parenthood, and some ideas I hope you'll find useful if you're in New York with young kids.

4 thoughts on “Prospect Park Zoo – good for younger kids”

  1. I know this is a late addition, but wanted to recommend NOT eating a the zoo with so many other better options around. East of Prospect Park is a heavily Caribbean neighborhood. Great options for Jamaican and other west Indian foods abound where kids are welcome. Recommend The Food Sermon or Ital Kitchen (vegan). Just south of the Flatbush entrance to the park is King of Tandoor for basic Indian. If you are walking up to the top of Grand Army Plaza to get the 2/3 trains, Geido serves Japanese food in a highly kid-friendly space (just check out the walls!) Of course, Park Slope to the west is loaded with restaurants. Also recommend Ample Hills Creamery on Vanderbilt for the world’s best (IMO) ice cream. And though the setting isn’t elegant, inside the Brooklyn Library (next to Grand Army Plaza) is Four and Twenty Blackbirds with fantastic pie. (Try the salted caramel apple pie.) Great stop for pie and coffee. The children’s section at library is worth checking out too.

  2. I always absolutely love visiting your blog!! This little zoo sounds wonderful, the little milking station sounds so adorable!! Such a shame, and so unamerican, to have such a disappointing food selection though!

    Hurrah for your little ladies potty training, such a huge milestone, we have been doing this too!
    Also, a big happy birthday to you…how rude of the pope to hold you up ?

    Thanks for sharing with #myexpatfamily

    1. Hi Seychellesmama, that’s v kind of you to say, thank you. I really enjoy #myexpatfamiky too. Take care, Alex

Leave a Reply