By Jay Lloyd

Some of our favorite stories revolve around animals we’ve encountered in the wild. Former KYW reporter Joe Donovan told a thriller about being treed by a moose in Newfoundland during an Air Force survival exercise. He did – survive, that is. I often recall being confused by whales that looked exactly like boats on the radar during Coast Guard search and rescue flights. We all have tales of bears or snakes, cougars and deer. But those are one at a time, and that’s why I like zoos. You get a world of fascinating animals in one place, and you don’t even have to run away! In no particular order, here are some of the zoos that I’ve enjoyed strolling. – Jay Lloyd

(credit: Spencer Lloyd)

(credit: Spencer Lloyd)

CENTRAL PARK ZOO

Off Fifth Avenue between 63rd and 66th Streets
New York, NY 10022
www.centralparknyc.org/things-to-see-and-do

A fun animated flick called “Madagascar” turned New York’s Central Park Zoo into the most recognizable zoo in America. The antics of its star inhabitants and their lemur friends “in the wild” drew a unique contrast between animals living on display and those in their native surroundings. By the way, those lemurs can be seen here at Central Park. It’s a relatively small zoo, but it’s rich in apes and monkeys and has an amazing aviary. My childhood favorites were always the seals. And this zoo is surrounded by a human habitat that’s hard to beat: Manhattan. Tickets are $18 for adults and $13 for children. Seniors pay $15. Check all the rates here: http://centralparkzoo.com/tickets.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

BRONX ZOO

2300 Southern Blvd.
Bronx, NY 10460
bronxzoo.com

African plains and an arctic ice flow with resident polar bears are part of this forested oasis located not far from the concrete canyons of Manhattan. From the moment you pass through the Bronx Zoo gates, you’re surrounded by woods and flowing streams that provide a natural habitat for some of the world’s most unique and endangered animals. The zoo is huge. Walkable paths meander among re-creations of natural settings for large jungle cats and apes, but there’s also a free shuttle from point to point that will help you visit the deer, red pandas and giraffes, which are paired with ostriches that seem to ride herd on their long-necked stable mates. Most ticket prices are discounted if you make an advance internet purchase. General admission at the gate is $23.95 for adults, $15.25 for kids and seniors pay $19.75. Here’s the price menu: http://bronxzoo.com/tickets. If you stay in Manhattan, don’t drive — take the bus from Madison Avenue. Navigate here for the BxM11 route and schedule: http://web.mta.info/busco/schedules/bxm11cur.pdf

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

NATIONAL ZOO (Smithsonian)

3001 Connecticut Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20008
nationalzoo.si.edu

The National Zoo in Washington is a reflection of our country itself. It’s a true “melting pot.” In fact, the most popular animals at the zoo are the inhabitants of the Panda House. These Giant Pandas attract crowds, especially on weekends when folks come from all over to see these rare bamboo-munching delights from central China. Situated right on Connecticut Avenue, this oasis in the nation’s capital is divided into walkable trails that open up to a global panorama of animals. Find pandas on the Asia trail, seals on the American trail…you get the idea. There’s a children’s farm that lets kids get up close and personal with the barnyard critters. Primates dazzle with limb-to-limb antics. There’s a convenient metro stop near the main gate, but staying at the Omni Sheraton puts us just a few blocks from the zoo. Also, since the National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian, admission is free.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

PHILADELPHIA ZOO

3400 W. Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 10460
http://www.philadelphiazoo.org

Philadelphia is a city of firsts, so it’s not surprising that the first zoo in America was established right here. That makes this constantly changing setting one of the most popular day-trip getaways in the region. The elephants are sadly gone, but a big cat overhead walkway gives visitors a unique perspective on the lions, tigers and other feline critters. While people roam among the animals, the cats can roam among people — while safely staying within their mesh walkway, of course. From aardvarks to zebras, the Philadelphia Zoo brings together both the familiar and the rare of the animal world. For a relaxing break between Simba sightings, take the kids on a swan boat ride. They’ll love it. Admission is $20 for adults. Children pay $18. Find all the prices at: http://www.philadelphiazoo.org/Visit/Purchase-Tickets.htm. The zoo is right off the Girard Avenue exit of the Schuylkill Expressway, but weekend traffic can be a bear. The best bet is to take SEPTA or the popular Philly Phlash.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

CAPE MAY ZOO

707 Route 9 North
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
cmczoo.com

It won’t be long until we’re spending days at the Jersey shore lounging on a beach with dips in the surf. But then, looking at the kids, we realize that they’re doing a slow broil in the sun. It’s time to move on. Pick up fixings for a picnic lunch and head to the Cape May County Zoo and its surrounding park. Picnic by the shaded lake and then take a stroll through a pleasant seashore zoo. It has that salt air feeling combined with wildlife aromas as you stop to gaze at a lion here, a giraffe there and join a scavenger hunt for the kids. Zoo admission and parking are free, and it’s located right off exit 11 of the Garden State Parkway.

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

(credit: Jay Lloyd)

BERMUDA AQUARIUM & ZOO

40 North Shore Rd.
Bermuda
www.bamz.org

When I lived in Bermuda decades ago, I couldn’t let my Triumph roll past the aquarium without a stop. A zoo has been added since then, and it’s a colorful addition to a Bermuda holiday. If you’re planning a fall cruise to the island, you’ll be completely captivated by an amazing display of life under the sea in Bermuda’s waters – everything from sharks to the wahoo you’ll taste in that unique Bermuda fish chowder. The land critters displayed in the semi-tropical zoo setting aren’t exactly native born, but they’re not what you’ll encounter in most zoos. The most colorful are the flamingos, but primates steal the show and there’s fascination in watching the movement of a determined tortoise. And as long as you’re in the neighborhood, the Swizzle Inn, creator of the unique Bermudian rum swizzle, is not too far away.