The fabled Bronx Zoo, which draws over 2 million visitors a year, is now known as the Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Park to emphasize its role as a refuge for endangered species. Congo Gorilla Forest recreates an African rain forest and be home to more than 300 animals, including the largest breeding group of lowland gorillas -about 30- in North America. The project encompasses 6.5 acres of shady forest, treetop lookouts, bamboo thickets, sunny meadows, forested pathways and wading pools. More than 20,000 plants will be used to create Congo Gorilla Forest’s lush landscape.
At the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, created in 1891, tropical plants are housed in a National Historic Landmark – a great iron and glass Victorian crystal palace modeled after the Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England.
Also in the garden are The Garden Cafe and Terrace Room, and a hands-on learning center called the Children’s Adventure Garden, to include trails, topiaries, a kids’ herbarium and lab, interactive exhibits and mazes. In addition, The Riverbank Restoration, an upgrade of the path and fences on a 350-foot scenic pathway along the Bronx River with majestic views of a waterfall, is the last remaining primeval forest in New York City.
Foreign visitors might wish to schedule visits to the New York Botanical Garden in May or October, when tours in French, German, Chinese, Mandarin, Spanish and Polish are available. There’s even a special tour called the Baby Botanist Stroller Tour, when guides lead little ones and their adult caregivers in a kid’s-eye view of the garden.
Where to Eat
After a day at these world-famous Bronx attractions, why not take in dinner and a show in the Belmont section, the Little Italy of the Bronx. The intersection around Arthur Avenue and 187th Street contains a string of authentic Italian restaurants. Pasta’s the specialty at Pasquale Rigoletto, saltimbocca -veal, prosciutto, spinach in wine sauce- at Full Moon, seafood and steak at Emilio’s, and shrimp at Ann and Tony’s. You’ll also find great pizza.