I’d heard good things about the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, NJ, but kept hesitating to go because my daughter Dori isn’t a big zoo fan. We finally decided to take the plunge – and even Dori had a fabulous time. It was a manageable size, and the exhibits were really well done.
Parakeets – this was our favorite. The aviary is full of colorful parakeets that you can feed. Buy a $2 stick with bird seed glued on, and try to get the birds to stay on the stick. Or be cheap, like us and don’t buy a stick. Pick up discarded ones from the ground – that still have bird seed on them.
The farm animals – a huge pig. A black cow with a big white stripe in the middle. Sheep and goats. Horses. They’re all there, and you can feed some of them.
Prairie dogs – be a prairie dog yourself in this exhibit, by going into the clear domes in the middle of the hill.
Penguins – Cookies and Cream and the other penguin were adorable – but they smelled terrible!
Black bears – there’s a great little house you go in to watch the two black bears. You learn about what the bears like to eat in houses. Then you watch the bears from a big glass window. They came right up to the window, pacing back and forth. I always feel badly when I see them pacing because it’s not a natural movement for wild animals.
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White-faced gibbons – we saw these cute monkeys trying to get food out of plastic containers. It was like a game to them, shaking the containers until the carrots, sweet potatoes and other veggies came out.
Reptile room – the reticulated python was amazing. This snake can eat a human – if it gets out of its cage and is hungry enough. It can grow up to 30 feet long. Shhh..don’t tell your kids if they get scared easily.
Bald Eagle – a little sad to see these symbols of the United States caged up, but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to see them so close up before.
Asian area – the red panda was adorable, and the Asian section was presented in a lovely way.
Other things to do
Zoo Key – While we didn’t buy a “zoo key” – you can get them for $3. Put them into machines at various animal exhibits and you’ll hear a funny song about them. We heard one by the black bear area and it cracked us up.
Carousel – this “endangered animals” carousel is enclosed in a pretty building near the picnic area. Tickets are $2
Playground – take some time out to let the kids run around and climb and slide
Pony Rides – ‘nuff said.
Birthday Party – you can host a party here. Details on the Jersey Kids Birthday Party page.
Turtle Back Zoo Tickets and Discounts
Tickets: Zoo tickets cost $13 for adults, $9 for kids, $9 for seniors, and free under age 2 – rates are in season. Out of season it’s $2 less for adults, $1 less for kids/seniors. Look for special events and discounts on their Facebook and Twitter page.
Reciprocity: The Turtle Back Zoo participates in a reciprocal program. To find out what other zoos are in the program, click here. And make sure to verify that the information is accurate before going.
Group Discounts: Groups of 15 or more, you can get discounted tickets for $5-6 each. In advance.
Coupons: You’ll find half-off coupons for Turtle Back Zoo in the KidStuff discount book and Entertainment Book. If I find printable coupons I will post them here, though I haven’t found any in the past.
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