Turtle Back Zoo is nestled near the woods of West Orange, New Jersey. The zoo has been going through some amazing changes the last few years. There have been major renovations and the addition of several new exhibits. The zoo has gone through a complete metamorphosis from what most residents of the area remember it as. There are great things happening here and it is exciting to watch the changes! Turtle Back Zoo has evolved a long way since it nearly closed in 1995! There has been 70 million dollars of upgrades that will convince you that this is one fantastic place to visit!
The most recent addition to the zoo came this past summer with the opening of the Prehistoric Playground for children. There are dinosaur themed slides, climbers and pieces for kids to jump and slide on. There is a large table that is filled with rock that kids can sit on and push rocks away to reveal dinosaur bones. There are two digging devices that are great for kids to try as they coordinate motions to move rock.
The zoo also opened a marine exhibit this past spring. This is a massive new housing with a very large water feature to house two very large sea lions. The exhibit has three glass plate looking areas at the ground level that can be seen from different locations around the structure. There is also a viewing platform inside the building attached to the water habitat. The building itself houses a marine education area. Visitors can rinse their hands and then head to the touch tanks to meet sting rays and sharks. The touch tanks are filled with many rays and sharks that are harmless and quite ready to swim past your hand as you get to feel their sleek skin. It is an amazing experience for young children and feeding time is not to be missed in this exhibit!
In the last year this zoo has opened an entirely new area for big cats. This much needed addition expanded the zoo and also added rest rooms to the upper portion of the zoo. The jaguar and cougar are beautiful additions to an area that has a southwest flavor. The cats pace and make it known why they are respected big cats.
My family and I have been visiting this zoo for about three years now and we have enjoyed all of the new changes. There are still those who remember the old zoo that we visited as kids with chain link fencing and run down exhibits. The old is gone from this gem of Essex county and now there are only great things happening here. We can’t wait to see what else is coming!
In full disclosure the author has received no compensation or promotion for writing this article. The opinions expressed in this article are that of the author herself. She is a frequent visitor to the zoo.