Fun Around and In Brooklyn's Prospect Park Zoo!

I was being pulled downwards, sharp branches poked at my hair and face. "Come inside the big-bom mommy." I got down on my knees, trying not to wake my newborn who was strapped to me. "It's a Wigwam, Ohm. This is where the Lenape Indians lived." I was crawling over leaves and sticks. "Come inside the Indian house. I'm going to make some food." The little hand tugged again with full force and I was inside. "Sit mommy, sit!" I did as I was told. Above, an intricate system of reeds and bark came together to form a roof, one that allowed the stream of afternoon sun to penetrate in shimmering brilliance. IMG_0455 As my three year old pretended to cook over an open fire, I settled onto my tree stump bench with my newborn in anticipation of the imaginary meal I was about to partake in. We came to Prospect Park to visit the zoo. What we found was an entire historical experience. It says, Zoo entrance, but when you walk beneath that arch, the first thing you're met with is a model Lenape village. Children (and adults) can play in the model wigwams while learning about New York's original inhabitants. Once you're on your way again, down the path headed towards the zoo, another surprise awaits. The historic Lefferts House, once owned by Continental Army Lieutenant Pieter Lefferts and his family, is now a museum, free to the public and open for exploration.
Built in 1783, the house and farm have been preserved as a museum of family life in the 1800's. On the great lawn, children can wear stilts and play with toys such as wooden hoops that were popular in the 1800s. IMG_0460
IMG_0462Inside, Ohm ran giddily from room to room, touching and experiencing it all (luckily the touching was encouraged by the museum which caters to small children). "Look mommy, I'm eating corn." "Look mommy, I'm playing a game." "Come on, we have to play the piano!"
IMG_0451 An hour later, we emerged from the 1800's. Ohm, yawning, swore he was still ready to explore the zoo. A big fan of tiring him out, onwards we marched, down the path towards the zoo, past the historical carousel, past the ice cream vendors and pretzel vendors and hot dog vendors, onwards and onwards, until we made it to our destination. I had known for a while that there was a Zoo inside Prospect Park (Brooklyn’s Central Park) but I never took the time to stop by for a visit. At the end of the day, every New Yorker knows that the sprawling Bronx Zoo is where all of the animals live. I wasn’t so sure about this Prospect Park Zoo business. But since we don't live in the Bronx, we live in Brooklyn, within walking distance to the park, I figured it was high about time we became acclimated with our own backyard.
The Prospect Park Zoo, is a small zoo, it’s actually just the right size for a toddler. The grounds are beautifully manicured with gardens and sculptures, its compact size is not overwhelming and is quite accessible for little ones. IMG_0481 You will not find lions, tigers and bears at the Prospect Park Zoo. Instead, you’ll find sea lions, red tailed pandas, ground hogs, farm animals, llamas, mongoose, and other small wonders. IMG_0490 IMG_0496

Ohm didn’t seem to mind. His three year old attention span could only handle so much stimulation. After the Lenape wigwam and the Lefferts house and the petting zoo, he was walking on sunshine. He had a great time without the lions, tigers and bears and I was happy I didn't have to drive to the Bronx and fight for parking. I had no idea there was so much to do around and in Brooklyn's Prospect Park Zoo. We'll be back!