Visit: Turtleback Zoo {West Orange, New Jersey}

by Cate on April 13, 2009

Nick is on Spring Break this week, and since I took today off, I promised him we would do something fun together.  The weather was crisp, clear, and most importantly rain-free, so it was the perfect day to visit the zoo.  Although it’s a bit on the small side, the Turtleback Zoo is only about twenty minutes away, and I thought would be perfect to introduce Madeline to.  Nick went there for the first time nearly two years ago, and even though he was almost 4 years old (oh that baby face!), he doesn’t remember it.

Big Pig
A lot of other people must have had the same idea today because it took a good 4-5 circles around the parking lot until I could find a space.  Adults are $9, kids are $5 and under 2 is free, so it was a bargain at $14.  The Turtleback Zoo is no Bronx Zoo, but this time we saw way more animals than we did last time … let’s see … emu, horses, chickens, the fattest pig I have ever seen, a leopard, a red fox, penguins, two cougars, two brown bears, kangaroos, a parrot, a gray wolf, prairie dogs … I think that’s it.

When we pulled into the parking lot, Nick told me that his favorite animal was the fox, so I was really glad that we got to see one.  After the fox, we pulled out the map so we could make sure to find the monkeys for Madeline, with Nick scouring the map to find out where they were.  We finally found their home, only to see a “closed” sign on it.  Completely crushing, poor Madeline, she loves them so!

Kids and Penguin

I think Madeline was most entranced by the chickens, largely because of the ruckus they were making.  She watched them squawking around their coop and flying around with great interest and tried to get as close as she could to them.  She also loved the leopard too – the one that they have there is one of only 25 in existence, and there is a walkway that lets you get superclose to him.  So pretty, we could have watched him sleep all day. Oh and the penguin too!  He was so tiny and cute, and was playing peekaboo with the kids, ducking up and over a branch to look at them.

All in all, a fun outing with the kids, and now we’re planning a trip to the Bronx Zoo, where Madeline can get her fill of monkeys galore, and then some.

You know, as I sit and reflect on what a fun morning I had with the kids, I’m reminded of how lucky I am.  There’s some disappointing personal stuff going on behind the scenes, but nothing can compare to what the Sporh family is going through, nor what Matt and his daughter Madeline went through a little over a year ago.  I just can’t even imagine that pain and heartache, and it just makes me appreciate a simple trip to the zoo even more.  My kids eyes lighting up as they gaze upon the animals, Nick’s fascination as he reads (reads!) the signs to me now, the fact that he refused to give up pushing the stroller up all the hills in the zoo just to help me with his sister.  They’re such great kids and I am truly lucky to spend every second with them.  Lucky beyond belief.

Turtleback Zoo
560 Northfield Avenue
West Orange, NJ 07052

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Tamilee April 14, 2009 at 12:32 am

Nicely said, Cate.
Such heart-wrenching stories … it definitely makes you appreciate even the small things.


Debbie April 14, 2009 at 7:18 am

I lived in NJ back in the early 1980’s….I had completely forgotten about Turtleback Zoo!!! Thanks for sharing and your pictures are precious!!!

Debbies last blog post..I’m Back……with Rugelach!


Susan April 14, 2009 at 9:41 am

Count me in as another who had memories of Turtleback Zoo!

And yes – sometimes we all need to stop and realize how truly blessed we are.


Kris April 14, 2009 at 11:53 am

I loved going here growing up! Do they still have the train ride? I think the last time I was here was when my 20 year old was 4. Think it’s time to go back.

And hopefully someday will get to the Bronx Zoo. All my kids over the age of 8 have been there – that’s the 6th grade school trip.


Mrs Ergül April 19, 2009 at 11:12 am

It is spending time with the family that counts. I’m happy for you!

Mrs Ergüls last blog post..Baby Bok Choy with Ikan Bilis


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