Central Park Zoo – New York, NY

After leaving the Natural History museum I was confronted with the realization that the New York City Marathon was going on.  I wanted to head straight east across Central Park to the zoo but with the marathon route blocking my way I headed out on a long winding route through the park trying to get to the other side.  About 45 minutes later I finally made it to the Central Park Zoo.  Another zoo?  You bet this has definitely been the summer of zoo visits, maybe next year I’ll pick another type of attraction and visit as many as I can.  But come on it’s a zoo with lots of cute fuzzy animals.

Central Park Zoo 01

Before entering the actual zoo there are some placed to visit that are located outside the main entrance and no admission is required.  The Dancing Crane Cafe is a nice quick place to grab something to eat, or you can also visit the main gift shop.  I had paid for my ticked online the night before so thankfully I didn’t need to stand in the long ticket line.  Outside the gift shop and across from the zoo entrance were the first two penny machines available at the zoo.

Central Park Zoo Machine 01

Both machines were inside a cabinet that I’m sure helped protect them from the outside elements and there was a change machine right in the middle.

Central Park 02 Pennies

Each machine at the zoo had four designs available.  This first machine had images of a Pot-Bellied Pig, a Red Panda, a Black & White Ruffed Lemur, and a Poison Dart Frog.

Central Park Zoo Machine 02

Unfortunately the second machine was out-of-order with a label stuck across the coin slider.  I was temped to remove it and try the machine anyways, but I didn’t want to risk wasting my coins or worse breaking the machine further.

Central Park Zoo Machine 02a

The pennies available at this machine were an Emerald Tree Boa, Nubian Goat, a Sea Lion and a Grizzly Bear.  After my trip I wait about a week and then mailed off a set of quarters and pennies asking the zoo to press me a set from this machine.  I haven’t heard back but am keeping my fingers crossed I’ll receive something back to finish up this set.

With the pennies from the first machine stored away I handed my ticket to the attendant and headed inside to see the animals.  The Central Park Zoo isn’t huge and if you don’t linger too long you can see everything in an hour or so.

Central Park Zoo 07

One of the Grizzly Bears was pretty active and came right up close to the glass for us to catch a glimpse in-between naps.

Central Park Zoo 08

They also have Sea Lion tank and have regular feeding sessions you can watch throughout the day.  There are many other animals exhibits around the zoo but no animals really out of the ordinary.  One thing that is a little strange about this zoo is that there is a separate Children’s Zoo you can access with your regular admission but you have to leave the main zoo, walk under 65th Street via a tunnel/bridge and the Children’s zoo is on the other size.

Central Park Zoo 10

The Tisch Children’s Zoo had a petting area and mostly just contains some barnyard animals like goats and sheep.  But the animals are kept behind a fence so you have to try to coax them over with food you can pay for with a few quarters.

Central Park Zoo 12

After feeding some goats I had to make a pit stop and lucky for me the next penny machine was right outside the restrooms.

Central Park Zoo Machine 03

There were a bunch of younger kids playing with the machine but not actually using it.  When they noticed I was waiting patiently they moved out of the way and watched as I pressed a set.  This tends to happen quite often and I’m sure I have parents cursing my name after I leave as their kids always go running asking for loose change to use the machine.

Central Park 03 Pennies

These pennies included a Cow, a Tortoise, a Big, and a huge Spider in an intricate web.  I quickly left the area before the parents of the kids asking for change could hunt me down.  My research before coming into the city listed that there should be one more machine in the Dancing Crane Cafe.  I headed back in that direction, headed into the cafe and walked all around but didn’t see it.  I thought I may have missed it somewhere inside the zoo so I showed my hand stamp and went back inside.  Deciding to check every nook and cranny the first place I hadn’t gone to initially was the education center primarily used when schools come to visit the zoo.  In between the education center and a set of restrooms was a little hallway that connected to the cafe and this is where I found the last machine.

Central Park Zoo Machine 04

This machine wasn’t leveled correctly and when I cranked the handle it would dip to one side.  It made using the machine a little difficult and also made a lot of noise.  Not to be deterred I held the top of the machine to try to steady it while turning the handle.

Central Park 04 Pennies

These designs had a little more detail than the others which was probably due to this being a newer machine.  The images had a Rattlesnake, Snow Leopard, Snow Monkey and a Macaw.  I headed back inside the cafe and grabbed a Gatorade to try to re-hydrate due to all the walking I had done so far, but my trip was far from over.

**Updated (12/11/15)
A few days after my trip into New York City I sent a letter to the Central Park Zoo with some quarters and pennies letting them know I had recently visited but one of the machines had been out-of-order.  I asked if someone would be able to press me a set once the machine was fixed.  About 2 months later I received my envelope back with a fresh set of pressed coins and a nice letter from someone in their guest services apologizing for the machine being out-of-order.  I have done this a few times in the past and almost always receive the coins back.  It’s not always the quickest method to acquire pressed coins but I do appreciate the employee’s taking some time to help fill my collection.

Central Park Zoo Broken Pennies


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