A few weeks ago, I made my way down to New York City, with the main intention of seeing the Bronx Zoo. I’d been to the Bronx Zoo before, but it was back in 2011, so I thought I was due for a re-visit. My first visit took place on the day I was leaving New York, so I didn’t spend as much time as I needed at the zoo. This time a full day would be allotted, which would hopefully give me enough time to see the whole thing. Other than that, my main motivation for re-visiting was to see how it compared to the San Diego Zoo. Before December of last year Bronx had been my favourite zoo, but it was soon replaced by San Diego. I wanted to visit again to see if San Diego still had the edge, or if Bronx would squeak by it in terms of my favourite zoo. Anyways, let’s start the review! Bronx Zoo Review Before visiting the Bronx, I made a list of 5 “must see” areas, exhibits that I would try to get to early, and spend lots of time at. The exhibits, in the order of when I visited them were: Congo Gorilla Forest, Wild Asia Monorail, JungleWorld, Ethiopian Highlands and Madagascar. The first exhibit I came to was Congo Gorilla Forest, the area I was most excited about before I went on the trip. The first exhibit in this area, containing Colobus Monkeys, is only average, but it was around this exhibit that I got my first taste of the theming of CGF. And the theming is brilliant. Every rock and plant looks absolutely gorgeous and this is about as close to being totally immersive as any exhibit I’ve ever seen. I loved the Okapi exhibit, it strikes a nice balance of good viewing but also enough privacy for the animals. From here I went inside (I’ve always found it interesting that this exhibit combines inside viewing and exhibits with outside exhibits) to see my favorite exhibit of the entire complex, a Mandrill/ Red River Hog/ one other monkey species that I never saw but was possibly a Guenon. The habitat itself is a beautifully landscaped, large enclosure but seeing a male Mandrill interact with a Red river Hog really made the exhibit for me. I was also pleased to see a small hall with a wide assortment of Herps/ Fishes. The exhibits weren’t great, but it was nice to see that the Bronx paid attention to the smaller members of the animal world. The last, but certainly not least enclosure in CGF was the Gorilla habitat. This exhibit is really what makes Congo Gorilla Forest world famous, so I was very excited to experience it. The viewing experience was excellent, huge glass windows and whoever made that Gorilla tunnel is a genius! The habitat itself is large and complex, although I think it might be smaller than it originally looks. After a few minutes of looking I could see that significant chunks of the habitat were blocked by hotwire, so I’m not really sure if the exhibit is truly big. All in all, it’s still a great habitat though. I think now is the time to talk about my thoughts on CGF and I must say that I loved it. Definitely amongst my top 10 favourite exhibits. I feel that the thing that really stops it from being the top of the top was the lack of wow factor, not from the exhibits, but from the animals. My top 3 favourite exhibits (Polk Penguin Center, Kopje and Gharial River) all had amazing animal experiences, whereas at CGF none of the animals were particularly interesting, with the exception of the Mandrills/Hogs. Maybe on another day this would’ve been different and CGF would be my all-time favourite exhibit, but I still very much enjoyed myself. I’m not sure if this is a controversial opinion or not, but I really enjoyed the Wild Asia Monorail. I’m a huge fan of the fact that the monorail only faces one way, this way you don’t have o look around people and everyone gets an unobstructed view. I also liked how they included excerpts of their conservation efforts, I’ve never seen that before and it really does help educate the public. I found that the habitats were extremely impressive as well, with the best component being every exhibits massive size. The smallest ungulate enclosure would possibly be bigger than some zoos Elephant exhibit, and the collection was great as well. The Elephant and Rhino exhibits were decent as these exhibits go, although the monorail should really spend more time in front of the Elephants. Also not sure if this is a controversial opinion or not but I was disappointed with JungleWorld. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good exhibit, but it just didn’t live up to my (admittedly extremely high) expectations. The opening exhibits, which contained Tree Kangaroos and Small-Clawed Otters, weren’t very good, and the Otter exhibit was borderline tiny. The numerous side exhibits for small herps and mammals were also disappointing, although seeing my first Tree Shrew was a highlight. Do they still have Slow Lorises? I couldn’t spot any. Easily the worst exhibit in JungleWorld was the Leopard fish tank which has good height but no other redeemable qualities. At this point you might think that JungleWorld is a terrible exhibit, but there’s also lots of good things in JungleWorld. For one, the immersive qualities are impressive throughout the house, particularly in a decent Ebony Langur enclosure. By far my favourite exhibit in the complex was the view of a decent Malayan Tapir exhibit which was quite nice, but in the background was a lush jungle where White-Cheeked Gibbons swung, Birds flew, and Flying Foxes roosted. This view is masterful, and of the 45 minutes I spent in this area, 30 of those were at this one viewpoint. The walking trail gives multiple views of this beautiful jungle, ending in a pretty Gharial and mixed turtle exhibit. I was impressed by the sheer number of Gharials, as well as some huge Gourami floating around the tank. Ethiopian Highlands is by far the smallest of the “must see” sections, but that doesn’t stop it from being absolutely brilliant. There’s only 1 enclosure in this section, a mixed habitat for Rock Hyrax, Gelada Baboons and Nubian Ibex, and my initial impression was of complete and utter disappointment. I loved the habitat, which is perfect for all 3 inhabitants (especially the Hyrax, these Hyrax are very lucky), but I could only see 1 Ibex, and the other two species were nowhere to be seen. Surely there had to be more animals than this! Luckily for me I found a path that led to another viewing window, where I promptly found 8 Baboons, 5 Hyrax and 4 Ibex. Very exciting stuff! The final “must see” exhibit was Madagascar, which was another brilliant exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. The whole house is very nice, but there were 2 main highlights for me. The first was my first ever viewing of a Mouse Lemur (I think it was a Grey Mouse Lemur, but I can’t be certain), which is great as Mouse Lemurs are just tremendous species! The second highlight was the Spiny Forest area, which is a Collared Lemur/ Radiated Tortoise/ Red Fody/ Ring-Tailed Lemur (I never did see this rare and elusive species)/ Lesser Vasa Parrot mixed species enclosure. This is by far the biggest area in the building, and the attention to detail is amazing. A cool thing about this exhibit is that it’s viewed through mesh, but the smaller Fodys can go through this and fly in the visitor area. Not sure if it’s intentional but I really like this idea. The rest of the house is nice, but not spectacular. On a funnier note, in between the Nile Croc exhibit and the Mouse Lemurs were side by side exhibits for Tree Boa and Ground Boa. The funny part was tat the Tree Boa was on the ground, and the Ground Boa was on a tree. Life is weird. Anyway, I’ll cover the rest of Bronx’s exhibits in varying levels of detail. The rest of this review will not be done in the order I visited this area, just some scattered thoughts on some very good exhibits. There’s a small row of Pheasant aviaries near CGF, I didn’t pay much attention to them, but they might be interesting if you’re a Pheasant person. Whoever created the Aquatic Bird House is a genius, I mean seriously, what a great idea for an exhibit.! There are some very nice species in here, most notably Kiwi, Guam Kingfisher and Little Penguins. I never saw the Kiwi, although I think the only way you’d ever see one is by using night goggles! I know that Kiwi’s are nocturnal, but what’s the point of having them on display if the visitor has almost no chance of seeing them? From the outside the house looks quite small, but it seemed quite big once I got in there. It kept going and going! The rest of the house wasn’t too noteworthy, although I’m not the biggest bird fan so it might be great for someone else. All in all, definitely a nice exhibit, and from what I’ve seen, quite unique. Tiger Mountain and Himalayan Highlands (Snow Leopards) are both tremendous exhibits, other zoos should model their carnivore exhibits after these two. I think the Tiger exhibit has a slight edge over Himalayan Highlands, mostly due to underwater viewing, which is always cool to see. There were also two tiger cubs who were active! I really enjoyed the African Plains exhibit, although I really don’t have much to say about it, all the exhibits are basically the same. Every exhibit is large, almost overrun with grass, and affords good viewing. I really enjoyed the predator-prey dynamic of the Lions and Nyala, it almost looked like the Lion was in with the Nyala! I wasn’t a huge fan of the indoor Giraffe house; the Giraffes have a tiny amount of space and it smelled terrible! Does it always smell awful in the house? I loved the Mouse House, I mean it’s rare small mammals, how can you go wrong? Usually my strike rate with small mammals is awful, for every Tree Shrew I see, I miss 4 Bushbabies, but here I saw everything! And what a place to finally get some good luck, the species in here are fantastic. The highlights for me were, Black and Rufous Elephant Shrews (my favourite animal in the complex), Six-Banded Armadillos, Damaraland Mole Rats and of course Bushbabies, an animal that never sat still. I was a bit disappointed with the World of Reptiles, the species list is huge and quite nice (Khinesi Spray Toads!), but the exhibits were not up to par with other reptile houses I've seen). For the small animals the exhibits were in general okay, but for the larger animals they weren’t. They just seemed a bit bare and tired. The Zoo Center is a fascinating building (google an image, it’s spectacular), and I was delighted to see that there were still some animals in it. On one side of the building were assorted monitors and a wholly decent indoor Komodo Dragon exhibit, while on the other there was an extremely poor indoor White Rhino enclosure. Other than the now empty Polar Bear exhibit, this is the worst part of the zoo. My disappointment was partially made up for, by the fact that the outdoor Rhino area is quite nice, as is the outdoor Komodo and Galapagos Tortoise enclosures. I find the World of Birds to have a very appropriate name, it truly is a world of birds! This house is massive, it seems to stretch on forever, and even has 2 floors! The exhibit quality was surprisingly good, every bird had ample flying space and lots of hiding spots (except perhaps the Keas). The real highlight of the house is the collection; highlights include, Lesser Birds of Paradise, Maleos, my first Keas, Toucans (I love Toucans!), Andean Cock-of-the-Rocks, plus many other rare and unusual birds. Quite a few of the exhibits have almost no barriers and the best animal experience in the house was seeing a ginormous Capercaillie 2 feet away. After quite a bit of thought, I think the best exhibit at the Bronx is the Seabird Aviary (yes I spend hours thinking about the best exhibit at certain zoos). I have no idea why it isn’t mentioned more on Zoochat, this exhibit is truly awesome! The aviary is massive, quite long and tall enough for all the inhabitants to fly freely. The ground area is well-detailed, with lots of nooks and crannies. The highlight bird was hundreds of Inca Terns flying everywhere, causing ruckus, but Magellanic Penguins were also to see, even if they were quite elusive. I cannot say enough good things about this exhibit, I’ll just say that I enjoyed it more than Congo Gorilla Forest! So yeah, that wraps up all the areas of the Bronx Zoo. All in all Bronx is a brilliant zoo, with a tremendous mix of old architecture (Mouse House, Aquatic Bird House) and new, immersive mega-complexes (Congo Gorilla Forest, Madagascar). This is certainly a zoo worth going well out of your way to see. Did I like it better than San Diego? Definitely not, it lacked the weather, tropical plants, species list and longer hours of San Diego, while I found the exhibit quality quite comparable, although Bronx is better in this aspect. Still, Bronx is my #2 favourite zoo, and I’m already itching to go back. I also went to the Central Park Zoo, I might post a review, although this mammoth of a review (6 pages on word!) has tired me out!