The current Prospect Park Zoo opened on October 5, 1993, becoming the fifth facility in Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) world-renowned network of wildlife parks in New York City.
Prospect Park operated a small menagerie in the late 1800s. This collection of animals became the more formal Prospect Park Zoo on Flatbush Avenue that opened to the public on July 3, 1935. A Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, the Zoo was part of a massive city-wide park improvement program initiated and executed by former Parks Commissioner Robert Moses.
As was the case with the Central Park Zoo, time and increased knowledge about the needs of animals in captivity eventually made the old Prospect Park Zoo obsolete. Through a partnership forged in the early 1980’s with the City of New York/Parks and Recreation, the Wildlife Conservation Society took on the renovation and management of a new zoo in Prospect Park.
Groundbreaking for the current Prospect Park Zoo occurred in August 1989, beginning a $37 million renovation. Some architectural aspects of the old zoo were saved, but inhumane conditions that existed were eliminated. Naturalistic habitat exhibits replaced bars, cages and pits, and three major exhibit areas were designed to engage children in learning about wildlife: The World of Animals, Animal Lifestyles, and Animals in Our Lives.
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