The Central Park Zoo

41209The Central Park Zoo

4/10/2009 New York, New York

Review: The Central Park Zoo is still my favorite little zoo.  This marks my second review of the zoo visit (read the other review here) I was a volunteer zoo guide there for a few years and I am still quite familiar with the collection.  It is a small zoo, but they have a great collection of big, cool and unique animals.  Every visit is different, and I can still say that with well over 50 visits in my book.  And while I have said in the past that a bird heavy montage signifies a bad visit, that is quite contrary to this zoo, where the included birds are doing something interesting, big, odd, rare, and/or super colorful!

Photographability: When the glass is clean, this zoo can yield some great photos.  You can get up close to most of the animals shooting over natural barriers and the exhibits are free of unnatural sightlines. The Tropics building, while sometimes dark, offers clean tropical backdrops for a host of very cool unique free flight birds. Photographically, this zoo has few challenges, though during the darker parts of the year, the light in the Tropics building and Penguin exhibit are often quality photo prohibitive.  I used my Canon Mark IIn camera with a 70-200mm zoom lens and the 1:4, and the Canon G7 for the macro stuff.

Highlights: The tropics building is still the best I’ve ever seen, and the large bird collection is really growing and impressive.  The new lemur exhibit looks great, even though I only spotted one lemur through the dirty glass.  The new snow leopard won’t open until June, but it looks photo friendly and impressive!

Lowlights: The tropics building was closed for repairs, and while my friend Judy did get me in to see the new lemurs, fun birds and my favorite silvery marmosets, I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I would have liked.  The glass in the penguin exhibit was fogged up and dizzying to look through. 

Pleasant Surprises: I knew the children’s zoo had two baby lambs, but I was pleasantly surprised with how totally adorable they are!  

Would I Return?: Yes, next time I’m back in NYC.

Rating: 8 (out of 10)

Central Park Zoo



The Central Park Zoo

12/05/08  New York, New York

Review:  The Central Park Zoo is my favorite little zoo. With a Tropics building unparalleled by any other zoo I’ve seen, what I also like so much about the zoo is my familiarity with each exhibit. They don’t have a huge collection, but it’s a really solid collection.  Here’s a little insider information about my photo montages:  Every zoo has birds, and birds for the most part, are pretty routine. I try to keep them to a minimum in the presentation, so if you see a combo with lots of birds (reference: left) the big animals were sleeping!

Photographability: The tropics building tends to be a tad dark, but the Canon Mark IIn with a 70-200 f/2.8 zoom lens with a 1×4 converter at 1250 to 1600 ISO still manages to hold the quality.  The birds are super colorful and it’s easy to get clean (or natural) looking backgrounds. Looking down into the snow monkey exhibit makes for boring photos, so it’s cool when they are up on their cliffs at eye level.  The polar bear exhibit is tricky, shooting through thick plexiglas at any angle leads to soft photos. The penguin exhibit in December is dark, dark dark.  Good for them and their cycle, bad for viewers. Best to see them in June when the lights are at their brightest.

Highlights: I like when Gus the Polar bear is swimming.  And I love ducks, and the Eider Duck (third column, bottom) is one of my new favorites.

Lowlights: The usually rambunctious snow monkey troop was hunkered down out of sight.  And the penguins, literally: low(no)-light.

Pleasant Surprise: Unrelated to animals, it was great to visit with my friends and colleagues that I used to volunteer with at the zoo.

Would I return? Absolutely!  A new lemur exhibit has just opened, and snow leopards are coming this spring!

Rating: 5 (out of 10)