American alligator swimming.
If it’s been a while since you’ve been to Turtle Back Zoo, get ready to be surprised! The 50 year old zoo has gone through many upgrades in recent years, all for the better. Get ready to watch sea lions swim, touch some sting rays, feed some farm animals and observe the peacocks as they roam the grounds! There’s a wonderful carousel that features all kinds of animals (and is inside so it can operate year-round), a train that takes you through the woods (not near animals), and two playgrounds. We were lucky to see the American Alligator swimming around; and the wolves were right near the glass during our visit.
What You Need to Know about Turtle Back Zoo
- The Zoo is open daily, year round. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years
- 10 am – 4:30 pm Monday-Saturday, 11-5:30 Sundays.
- Turtle Back Zoo is smoke-free.
- In season (April 1- October 31) Turtle Back Zoo admission is $11 adults, $8 children 2 and up (under 2 is free), and offseason admission is $9 adults and $7 children. Essex County residents can enter for $1 each on Tuesdays after 2 PM.
- There is a food pavilion and gift shop inside, and plenty of picnic tables to sit and eat.
- You may bring in your own food (but don’t feed the animals!)
- Tokens to ride the Turtle Back Zoo Carousel (year round) and Pony rides (April to October) are $2 each. The train is free. Just outside of the zoo is a treetop adventure course (zipline) and mini golf.
- Strollers are available to rent for $7/day. The zoo is on a hill, so little ones might need some extra help.
- Turtleback Zoo Souvenir Pennies and Zoo Keys which provide more animal facts are also available at additional cost.
What We Love About Turtle Back Zoo
- It has the feel of a small zoo but once you’re inside you’ll be surprised at all there is to see!
- There’s a large variety of animals from all over the world, including 800 animals in 15 exhibits.
- Penguins! Who doesn’t love to watch penguins? There is also a fun prairie dog exhibit, black bears and wolves, an aquarium, a reptile house and an enclosure for Gibbons where they swing.
- There are plenty of staff members throughout the zoo to answer any questions about the animals or exhibits.
- Signs throughout the zoo let you know about special daily events – feedings, talks by animal keepers and more. The zoo also offers early childhood programs, zoo camp, and holiday light events.
- You can easily make a day of your visit to Turtle Back Zoo, either by the zoo itself or visiting the nearby zipline course or miniature golf course.
- The Prehistoric Playground is one of two playgrounds inside the zoo where you can take a break as the kids explore.
- The train ride is free! Take a load off and let the breeze blow through your hair as you take a ride through the woods of West Orange.
What’s your favorite part of Turtle Back Zoo?