There is no reason to avoid the zoo during winter months. It’s a chance to get out of the house. Buffalo Zoo has both outdoor and indoor display of animals to visit even during stormy weather.
Buffalo Zoo is the third oldest zoo in the United States. It is the second largest tourist attraction in western New York following Niagara Falls. The zoo attracts nearly 400,000 visitors each year. Within 23.5 acres of the zoo is a diverse collection of over 1,000 animals and birds. Plus there are over 320 different plant species within the zoo.
There is a wildlife building, lion and tiger outdoor habitat, gorilla rain forest and children’s zoo. In season a carousel and small zoo train provide rides for the kids. The zoo is situated within the 376 acres of Delaware Park, equipped as most parks. The park has baseball diamonds, playground equipment, picnic areas and a regulation golf course.
Their fifteen-year Master Plan for the zoo was kicked off in 2002 resulting in many improvements. The South American Rainforest is a four-season attraction. It features a two-story waterfall, dozens of colorful free flying birds, Blue Poison Dart Frogs, Ocelots, and other rain forest animals. Additional enhancement were the EcoStation, Otter Creek Sea Lion Cove, and the Vanishing Animals exhibit.
The zoo was initiated when a prominent businessman gave the city of Buffalo a pair of deer at the middle of the 19th century. It resulted in part of Delaware Park designated a small zoo. Additional deer and animals were added to the collection after five years. In 1875 the first permanent building marked establishment of Buffalo Zoological Gardens. With success of the zoo the Zoological Society of Buffalo was founded in 1931.
Additional facilities and exhibits were added over the years up to 1981. In the 1980’s and 1990’s the mission of the Zoo changed from solely amusing and entertaining visitors. It currently strives to show how animals relate to other animals and their environment. Another change was a reduction in the number of animals to focus on breeding endangered species to ensure their survival.
Buffalo Zoo is open year round with summer hours from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, June 1 to Labor day. The rest of the year hours are 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Prepare to spend 90 minutes at the zoo enjoying its many exhibits. Food may be purchased at the zoo.
Buffalo Zoo is a 90-minute drive of 80 miles west of Rochester. After driving on I-90 west exit on 51 west to route 33 toward Buffalo. Then exit onto route 198 west (Scajaquada Expressway) turning right onto Parkside Avenue for ½ mile. Then turn left onto Jewett parkway for 300 feet, turning right onto Meadow Drive to the Buffalo Zoo at 300 Parkside Avenue.
With zoos one thinks of large animals like rhinoceros and giraffe. But the Buffalo Zoo even has prairie dogs, which are fascinating to watch. Come see for yourself.