This 12-acre zoo at the east edge of Brooklyn’s historic Prospect Park was created in 1934 under NYC Park Commissioner Robert Moses; by the 1980’s the zoo was seriously deteriorated with unsafe conditions for both the animals and visitors. The zoo was taken over by the Wildlife Conservation Society who undertook a complete renovation that would restore and repurpose the 1930’s era buildings but completely reconstruct the zoo to create a new experience where animals would be seen in landscapes that recreate their natural habitats and zoo visitors would be fully immersed in the experience.
As the landscape architects for this $30‑million redevelopment Quennell Rothschild & Partners worked closely with architects Goldstone & Hinz and exhibit designers David Manwarren Corp. to create a new zoo designed especially for children, with opportunities for them to understand animals through a variety of interactive exhibits.
All the existing mature trees were preserved from the original zoo, and integrated into the new layout. The exhibits contain varied plantings, including a marsh area, a pond, and more than a dozen different habitats ranging from an Australian grassland to a Tibetan mountain. A new Sea Lion pool forms the heart of the zoo, surrounded by generous pathways and a café terrace. QR&P also worked with artist Mags Harries, who designed and installed a series of animal‑shaped sculptures at the zoo entry from Prospect Park.
Since the Zoo reopened in 1993 it has become a beloved destination visited by almost 250,000 people a year, and home to over 100 animal species. A farm area provides opportunities for hands on interaction with a variety of animals, and the community is now fully engaged with the zoo through educational and volunteer programs.