Visiting the Buffalo Zoo is a fun time wrapped in an educational experience. Bring the whole family to enjoy the many animal exhibits and interactive displays. The Buffalo Zoo also offers specific field trips, educational opportunities, and tours.
Visiting The Buffalo Zoo
Founded in 1875, the Buffalo Zoo is the third oldest zoo in the United States. Open year-round, the Buffalo Zoo welcomes approximately 400,000 visitors each calendar year. Located on 23.5 acres in Buffalo’s Delaware Park, the Zoo’s emphasis today is on increasing awareness of the importance of conservation to the benefit of both animals and humans.
Hubby and I are Conservation Circle members of the Buffalo Zoo. One of the thank-yous for our donation is we get a private tour. In 2019 that private tour included feeding the giraffes and a behind-the-scenes look at some of the animals not out in the public area.
In 2020, the Buffalo Zoo basically closed down for a while. They solicited extra donations due to the lack of membership and individual ticket sales. They did not, of course, offer us a private tour. When the zoo reopened, it was with capacity restrictions.
This year, things are beginning to resume normalcy. I inquired about a private tour (because my nieces asked me to!) and was accommodated yesterday. There were a number of changes from when I was last at the Zoo in 2019, including no feeding the giraffes and no behind-the-scenes. I was told by our very friendly guide, that we could visit again in August and they would be happy to do those things with us then. Apparently, we were the first scheduled tour this year, and the third that was performed. They are still ramping up to pre-lockdown measures.
There is a parking lot that can be accessed via Parkside avenue. The cost is $5 for the first 2-hours, $2 every hour thereafter to a maximum of $10 for the day.
The main entrance is next to the parking lot. When I was a kid, there were other entrances, including one on the Delaware Park ring road, but that has been closed for years. When you exit, you are routed through the gift shop to the right.
The children all needed to wear face coverings; for adults masks were optional (New York State has anyone vaccinated no longer needs to wear masks rules).
This was an extended tour of the zoo. I was with two four-year-olds (the same children from the 2019 tour), a 4-month-old (he’s a sweetie!), and my two nieces and our intrepid zoo guide! The Buffalo Zoo is a great way to spend an hour or two with children of all ages, but especially those under 10.
We spent 90 minutes on this tour, and as one of my nieces put it, “The kids were easier when they were two!” LOL, They really were very good.
We started at the sea lions exhibit, and they came out to play. It was on to the otter exhibit where one very friendly little otter (Mindy) decided she wanted to play with my grandniece! That quickly became a theme for the day. In addition to the otters, the hyenas approached her (they are behind glass), the monkeys and chimps approached (and followed her), we got up close and personal with quite a few animals – well as up close and personal is plexiglass and/or chain boundary 6-feet away can get. Truly we had some very unique animal encounters.
There are few cats left. The lions (and the baby lions!) and snow leopards are just about the only cats left. They are down to two American bison (in Buffalo!!) The rhino exhibit is now huge, and they have a hidden walkway to get from one area to the next. A petting zoo was not open yet, but we heard the goats, so I expect soon!
The snow leopards sit high on the ledge because there is a cooling system blowing cool air out!
This is a Kenyan boa. Only my grandniece (the animal Pied Piper) was interested in petting it!
I got a lot of great photos of the gorillas again. They seem to preen. This one, however, looked at me like, “WTH do you want, lady!?”
This is the “baby” rhino from two years ago with mama! Some baby, huh!?
2021 Buffalo Zoo admission is $14.95 for adults, $12.95 for Seniors, $10.95 for children 2-12, and you can apply your admission to costs for up to 30 days to the cost of a yearly pass. Members are free when they present their zoo pass. The Buffalo Zoo also has a reciprocal list to various other Zoos and Aquariums in the United States and Canada.
Below is the update I wrote back in 2019 about the Buffalo Zoo, and below that, the original post in 2014. It is interesting to see the changes!
When I originally wrote this post in 2014, the Buffalo Zoo was in a state of flux. The Arctic exhibit was not open (see the polar bear above), there weren’t any robotic dinasours, the baby rhino had not yet been born (the baby rhino is now out and about)… but there were (and are) big plans, and you could see the changes happening!
The Buffalo Zoo is located within Delaware Park – which is part of the Olmstead Park system. The Zoo is 23.5 acres within the 375-acre park, and, the zoo is never going to get any bigger. So, the Zoo must make do with the space they have, picking and choosing which animals they can comfortably house.
The Elephants are now gone. There is an elephant retirement community at the New Orleans Zoo, so that is where they now roam. It is more room, and the elephants will be well taken care of in their old age.
Last year, Hubby and I decided to expand our charitable contributions to give to the Buffalo Zoo. So, I made a donation that is in the Leadership Tier, and thought nothing of it. A few weeks later, I received an email from the Director of Development to thank me for our contribution, and offering us a private tour if we would like.
This spring, I emailed her to take advantage of the offer, and a few weeks ago, my two nieces, and their children (my grandniece and grandnephew) and I went to visit the Buffalo Zoo on a perfectly glorious summer morning.
Because the little ones are only two years old, the tour was short and sweet, and geared to a 2-year-old’s attention span.
We first stopped at the otters. They were swimming and playing, but one of the zoo staff was kind enough to come over and feed them so the kids could enjoy the “show.”
The only fly in that ointment was when my grandniece wanted the fish to toss in. LOL Fortunately, she is short, and a quick move to hide the fish tray behind the zoo employee’s back solved that request.
Our next stop was a real hit!! We wandered over to the giraffe house to feed them leaves.
The building they are in is also the vet hospital at the zoo, where the animals are housed when they arrive (for 30 days), and where their feed is kept. It smelled like a barn!
While there were three giraffes in the area waiting for us, only A.J. and her “baby” Sampson were interested in being hand-fed.
The zookeeper at the giraffe house had a five-gallon bucket full of leaves for us to hand feed the giraffes. I wasn’t interested, and neither was my grandnephew, but my grandniece? Wow, they could hire her as an employee! She loved it.
Once that was done, we went over to the building where they house the walking exhibit animals, and zoo mobile animals. These are the animals that are very calm, and used to little ones.
The kids loved seeing the sloth, turtles, owls, and more behind the scenes.
And then we were done.
Since those animals were living on the other side of the gorilla house, we decided to see what was up with the gorillas. But, toddlers being toddlers, the kids were more interested in the big fish tank in front of the exhibit. At that point, we decided it was probably time to leave.
You can book a tour at the zoo even if you are not a member. Simply click the experiences page to decide what best suits your needs, and contact the Buffalo Zoo.
Below is the original post I wrote back in 2014 about the Buffalo Zoo. It is interesting to see the changes!
Our first stop in the Buffalo Zoo (after the bug house… ewww) was at the Western Lowland Gorilla Habitat.
This little cutie was having a great day! Nyah was born on September 4, 2013 to parents Lily and Koga. When we first arrived, she was along for the ride …
… but quickly got off to go exploring on her own.
She certainly is inquisitive…
… and Mom was keeping a close eye so she didn’t get hurt! You could practically hear the, “Come HERE! I said NOW!!”
Dad seemed content to let Mom be the bad guy.
One of the other gorillas was having a fine time playing on the tires and bars.
We left the gorilla habitat and wandered around a bit after that.
The Buffalo Zoo’s Arctic Edge is being built for the Polar Bears, so they are sharing outdoor space with the Tigers – but not at the same time!!
As luck would have it, when we exited the Gorilla Habitat there was a water war of sorts going on in the pool. Not sure which bear won.
There was some canon-ball activity after the pool fight!
In the next enclosure, are the African Lions.
He is surveying his kingdom!
She looks asleep in this photograph but just a few minutes before I took the picture she was awake and swatting at something that buzzed by!
This lady had a chameleon on a stick. That chameleon really did blend in! She was telling us that the reptile house at the Buffalo Zoo was designed by Marlin Perkins while he was the curator of the Buffalo Zoo. I must admit, I never knew he was the Zoo’s curator for a time – the jokes I make about Marlin Perkins being right at home in the Buffalo area were due to Wild Kingdom fame. How ironic that he really was at home here!
There were a buncha Zebras wandering around their enclosure.
I only saw two Bison. One was eating, the other was shedding.
I am surprised those trees have any leaves left on them the way that Giraffe (in the background) was attacking them! The other one looked like s/he was looking for bugs in the grass.
One of the animals we didn’t get to see was the rhino. She had a good excuse though, She had just had a baby!
My camera was giving me trouble starting with the Giraffes. I missed the otters, the elephants, and none of my photographs of the other animals that I took from behind the glass or fencing came out well enough to share.
Hubby and I spent about 90 minutes in the zoo. I think you would need about 3 hours to see it all if you were not a frequent visitor. We skipped quite a bit.
The Buffalo Zoo is much reduced in animals from when I was a kid, heck from when Sonny-boy was a kid! This is in conjunction with their learning and breeding programs.
I hadn’t been to the Buffalo Zoo in close to 15 years, and was surprised that they took away, what used to be, a very good flow from one exhibit to the next by blocking off areas, and closing some of the houses. Also, there is a lot of renovation going on, chiefly with the bears. Not only is the Arctic Edge being constructed, but the old bear caves are blocked off. This means you can’t flow from the Giraffe House to then exit cleanly. Just something to be aware of if you have not been there in a while.
You might also like my 365 Things to Do in Niagara Falls and Buffalo, NY post!
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