History and description of the Bronx Zoo.
Originally called the New York Zoological Park when it first opened its gates in November 8th, 1899, the Bronx Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the United States, stretching across 265 acres and visited by roughly 2.5 million people annually (Jacob E. Osterhout, 2009). When it first opened it had 22 exhibits and 843 animals to offer to the public. It has now grown to house over 4,100 animals. The park was built to show and educate the public about the importance of ecological preservation. It was one of the first zoos in the 19th century to move away from having animals in cages to more naturalistic enclosures, trying to replicate the animal’s natural habitat.
Since the park’s opening it has been on the forefront of conservation in zoos and around the world. It helped save the American Bison from extinction in 1907 with its breeding program (History of the Bronx Zoo : NYC Parks,) after the mass slaughter on the Great Plains during the late 19th century. The zoo also sends its animals around the country to help with breeding programs and biological diversity for the species. Conservation efforts have been felt all around the world, with the zoo helping establishing wildlife preserves in Alaska, Tanzania, Kenya, China, and Argentina (History of the Bronx Zoo : NYC Parks,). The “Tiger Mountain” exhibit which opened in 2003, is a result of the labors between Russian and American biologists’ research on this endangered species (History of the Bronx Zoo : NYC Parks,). Even today the zoo is applying technological advancements to be as ecologically friendly as possible, with a bathroom that collects waste to be turned into compost and saves millions of gallons of water each year (9 Wild Facts About the Bronx Zoo, 2017).
Exhibits in the park are innovative, allowing visitors to get face to face (with 2 inch thick glass in between) with many exotic animals from all over the world. The zoo has created a naturalistic environment for all the animals that they care for, from the marshes of South America to the Himalayas. One of the most famous exhibits, is the Sea Lion Pool which has stood since the zoo’s opening and is home to a family of California Sea Lions (Exhibits). Allowing visitors to study the family dynamics of this aquatic mammal. The quality of the exhibits are reflected in the success of the zoo’s breeding programs, which were the first to have success in breeding many endangered species.
The Bronx Zoo is extremely important to the world of wildlife conservation, with outreach programs having an positive effect on the animal’s natural habitat. Efforts have been able to bring back species from the brink, such as the American Bison, which could have been lost unless the work done by the zoo. It educates and inspires the public on how we affect the natural world and how conservation can help the biodiversity of the planet.