Looking for activities for your kids this summer? Consider the Turtle Back Zoo, located at 560 Northfield Ave in West Orange. Admission is $15 for adults and $12 for children. The zoo is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
The zoo has many exciting exhibits to visit, such as the giraffe enclosure, petting zoo and aquarium. See the new cheetahs from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium of Ohio. The cheetahs are named Alvin, Simon and Theodore for the chipmunks in the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies.
If you haven’t been to the zoo in a while, there are many other attractions as well, some new and some classic standards. Little kids will love the train ride, which takes you around the zoo, including a great view of the giraffe enclosure. Also love the Prehistoric Playground, which includes dinosaur climbing structures. Older children will enjoy the Mini Golf Safari, especially its waterfall feature, and the Treetop Adventure ropes course, which includes a zipline. If the heat is getting to you, ice skating is available at the South Mountain Ice Arena, across the parking lot from the zoo.
The Turtle Back Zoo also presents many summer events, such as the free ZOO-VIES movie series—animal movies are screened on Wednesday evenings at dusk on the roof of the parking deck. Upcoming shows include “A Dog’s Way Home,” “Aquaman” and “Dumbo.” Also, the zoo holds a behind-the-scenes penguin tour every Thursday at 6 and 7 p.m., where zoo employees teach about the endangered African penguins and their daily care. Both events are available through August.
To add to its entertainment offerings and attractions, the zoo is currently considering a $24 million expansion plan, which includes funds for an amphitheater and new grizzly bear exhibit. This hefty price tag has some residents concerned about overspending and the burden this expansion would place on taxpayers, as the zoo is funded by the county.
By Dassie Okin
Dassie Okin is from West Orange. She is currently a rising junior at Stern College and a summer intern at The Jewish Link.