By Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson
After more than 15 (Johna) and 20 (Vlad) years living in New York City (in Vlad’s case, just one block away from Central Park), we finally managed to visit the Central Park Zoo.
The Central Park Zoo was New York City’s first zoo, starting in 1859 as a menagerie of exotic animals given to the Park. (Nowadays, owners of exotic animals that have grown uncomfortably large for small New York City apartments are too impatient for donation: they simply dump the animals in the Park—that’s how we get alligators in the sewers…) The zoo is small (6.5 acres) but manages to house a surprisingly large number of animals—we didn’t get to see even half of them—in “natural” enclosures, some of them walk-through, that do not feel at all cramped.
As it turns out, the Zoo’s inhabitants are some of the most quintessential New Yorkers: The birds and beasts embody all the characteristic New York attitudes, from vanity to boredom to slit-eyed suspicion.