The zoo was very popular but many of the animals where kept in inhumane conditions in tiny cages and the smell of the zoo drew complaints from park goers and wealthy residents of fifth avenue. In 1934 the zoo was reopened with supposedly better conditions and in 1961 a children's zoo was added:
However, the zoo still drew criticism for its cramped conditions. By the 1980s it was in serious need of repair and attendance had declined sharply. A five year remodeling project involved removing the old fashioned cages in favor of more natural settings and repairing and modernizing the buildings. Most of the larger animals where moved to the Bronx Zoo. Today the zoo is still small but very popular, with the highlight being the sea lion exhibit. My husband and I visit regularly and it is one of my favorite places in Manhattan:
My favorite part of the zoo is the animals that would naturally be in the central park environment, the turtles, farm animals, and swans.
There are also more parrots and monkeys and some snow leopards, which where hiding on the day I visited.
The most famous part of the central park zoo is the sea lion pool.
Its certainly not on the subject of the zoo but I wore one of my favorite vintage outfits to visit, proof that vintage can be comfortable and practical. The skirt and blouse set I am wearing is a hand made piece from the 1930s that I got from Adelines Attic on Etsy. The coconut purse is 1940s and from ebay. My hat is a reproduction. I got it on sale from Anthroplogie but I think it really looks like an authentic 1920s hat.
If you are ever in Manhattan I thoroughly recommend a trip to the Central Park Zoo. Its a get site with adorable animals and a bit of history and its a quick visit!