Turtle Back Zoo

Turtle Back Zoo, West Orange: Hours, Address, Turtle Back Zoo Reviews: 4.5/5

Turtle Back Zoo
4.5
10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.5
857 reviews
Excellent
504
Very good
283
Average
38
Poor
16
Terrible
16

Justin W
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ2,603 contributions
Feb 2022
This was the first time I had been to the Turtle Back Zoo in almost five years, and I never came in the wintertime. I had read that they had a Groundhog's Day festival at the zoo, and it was much closer to home than going to the Staten Island Zoo.

Their festivities amounted to a ten-minute ceremony with "Edwina from Essex", their new groundhog. The poor groundhog looked like it was trying to find a way to escape the way it moved around. They read a poem and then made the prediction of an early spring and that was it. No music, no kids' choirs and no school involvement. I would have thought they would have created a different program than this. It could be so much more. All who were there was staff, docents and politicians. There must have been about five patrons.

I spent about an hour walking around the zoo, enjoying the exhibits that were open, but the poor animals looked so cold that many of them walked inside their burros. The Flamingo Pool was nice, and the birds talked amongst themselves. The Penguins looked so happy to see someone and totally interacted with me. They were a lot of fun.

Going to the zoo is quiet in the winter months. The carousel and the restaurant are both closed, most of the animals are inside as the winter weather is too much for them but there is still enough to see and do here.

Even though the ceremony was disappointing, the zoo is still nice to visit and fun to walk around. I want to come back in the Spring when it is nicer. It did bring back a lot of childhood memories when I came here in elementary school and with my parents.
Written February 2, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

KosherAndGlutenFree
New Jersey232 contributions
May 2022 • Family
The best part of this zoo is that most of the animals are very active, not just sleeping all day.

We saw giraffes walking around, monkeys swinging, a cougar jumped down from a high rock then let out a roar.
The black bear walked back and forth right in front of the glass.
The penguins walked and swam.
We also got to pet stingrays.

We spent about 3 hours and covered pretty much the whole zoo.

There is food available for purchase and plenty of picnic tables if you bring your own.
Bathrooms were clean.

There is also a train ride that runs parallel to the reservoir next door. It takes about 10 minutes and it’s free (we went on twice).

Parking is free.
Written May 16, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Patti I
Clifton, New Jersey123 contributions
Apr 2022
Had a wonderful experience at the zoo today ( April 11, 2022) with my two year old grandson. He had so much fun and I totally enjoyed watching his reactions. The staff was helpful and informative. One man, Ronald, at the Touch Tank, had the ultimate in patience and grace when he instructed my grandson on how to feed the Sting Rays. He is a valuable employee. I could not thank him enough!
Written April 11, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

mathRMBmusic
Flemington, NJ15 contributions
Aug 2020
We have been at Turtle Back Zoo in the past, and it is truly a wonderfully simple place. However, after going to the zoo today, I have two MAJOR complaints that people need to be aware of before they arrive at the zoo:

1. If you want to go from the zoo to the Treetop Adventure course (with zipline), you need to actually exit the zoo, and you will not be allowed back in without purchasing zoo tickets again. Because tickets must be purchased online for specific time slots during the day ahead of time for the zoo (and strongly suggested for the Treetop Adventure), you should space them apart and plan ahead. We did not, as we were not aware that we could not come back into the zoo after taking a break and experiencing the Treetop Adventure course; therefore, we had to skip the Treetop Adventure (which we already paid for ahead of time) so we could see the rest of the zoo. Lost a good amount of money there, and we wish that was more clear to us when we purchased the tickets online.

2. BEES!! There are hundreds and hundreds of bees all throughout the park, and it is getting really out of control. Many of them surround trash cans (see picture), but there are tons of them simply around the whole zoo, and it was constantly a scary experience for everyone at the park. In fact, my 9 year-old daughter did get stung by one of the bees, which made the remainder of our stay at the zoo very unpleasant. Luckily, she is not allergic to new stings, but for people who are allergic, BEWARE! The zoo really needs to find a way to control this, as our family does not feel comfortable coming back to the zoo until something is done about this.

Other than these two unpleasant experiences, the zoo can be a fun place to visit. There were several animals not present, and overall it was a bit too crowded (the zoo could have controlled this a little better), but when it comes down to it, Turtle Back Zoo can be a very family-friendly place.
Written August 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

C & R
Bloomfield, NJ515 contributions
May 2021
Turtle Back Zoo is a good place to spend a day, but it needs improvement and customer service.

The zoo is beautiful, something unique in the middle of a town, but the over crowd does not allow too much space for enjoyment.

TIPS

* Buying tickets online does not make any difference. Visitors have to make a line to check in. The zoo needs to get scanner for fast entry

* Try to entry the using the main entrance, not the entrance for treetop.

*Use comfortable shoes. To many ups and daw while walking

* You can bring your own food

* be aware of the crowd

* There is no paper map to help you to walk around

* Some of the food carts around the zoo only take cash
Written May 30, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

bschleif
Hopatcong, NJ9 contributions
Oct 2020 • Family
I love this zoo but they have been doing a horrible job with crowds. I went recently and there were large crowds of people. I am a member and got my ticket ahead of time and my daughter and I had to leave basically after showing up because I did not feel safe. There was no social distancing, people weren’t wearing masks on the walk in to the zoo and were shouting to their friends. I saw children not wearing masks who were much older than my daughter who is three and wearing her mask. Parents weren’t even trying to make their children wear masks! We couldn’t see the penguins because there were large groups of people hanging out blocking the sidewalk to get to them. The zoo needs to do a better job with their crowds.
Written October 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

MitchPhyllis65
Morristown, NJ5,727 contributions
Jan 2020
My wife and I made a return visit to the Zoo this week in hopes of seeing the Giraffes, but unfortunately it was too cold (40-50 degrees) and they were still in the Giraffe House. I was told they aren’t let outside until the temp is around 65 or above. A couple days earlier it was unusually warm for winter and the Giraffes were outside so we just missed them. Not everything is open during the winter months, like the café and train ride, but most exhibits are. We got to see some exhibits we hadn’t seen before during our last visit in 2016, like the lions, the brightly colored flamingos, two young cougars, and the Sea Turtle Recovery Center. Even though we didn’t see the Giraffes we still enjoyed our winter visit and will be back again when it warms up.
Written January 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Megan M
Princeton, NJ544 contributions
May 2021 • Family
I’ve been to the Turtleback Zoo before with my first grade class. This time I was able to visit with my family. We had such a great time! We booked the first time slot of the day and I highly recommend that time slot. There weren’t many people there in the beginning and parking was super easy. Our spot was a few steps away from the entrance and it was free!! The zoo was very clean and we observed plenty of sanitizing. My favorite animals were the flamingos and monkeys. My son loved the lions and giraffes. Next time, we would enter the zoo and go right. We ended up there and that’s where the lines are located for the sting ray tank, train, giraffe feeding and penguin house. We waited for the train and penguin house. The lines moved quickly. I bet if we went there in the beginning there wouldn’t be any lines. This is a well maintained, Covid safe, reasonable (adult tickets were $15), easy, fun zoo. We will definitely go back again!
Written May 2, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

bruce p
Albuquerque, NM4,118 contributions
Nov 2020 • Friends
This is Bruce the zoo guy and I'm doing a review of The Turtle Back Zoo in Newark New Jersey. This is a nice Zoo located on a nice Hillside outside of Newark. There's some very nice enclosures for the animals here in quite a few animals to see. Though some of the main animals like hippos rhinos and elephants are not to be found at the zoo. Nice walkways and nice shade coverings. Most of the animals seem to be very happy and they do have some decent sized enclosures. The giraffes have a massively good-sized area to play in Rome and a nice house for shelter. One of the nicest I've seen. Name a nice gift shop in a few opportunities to get some food around the park. Is plenty of parking outside and parking structures. Very nice penguin exhibit as well. They do have a do marine animals hear some of which you can touch in the touching pool. I recommend this Zoo.
Written November 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Barbara L C
Houston, TX6 contributions
Jun 2019
Went with my daughter, her husband and my 2 teen grandchildren when I was visiting them in PA. We decided to take in the Turtle Back Zoo. We had already been to the Philadelphia Zoo on another one of my visits from TX where I live now. (I'm really a NJ gal though)). It was a gorgeous day and we were able to see lots of the animals up close and personal. I think we went in June 2019 . To see the wolves in their habitat; almost like in a little forest, was so cool! (Yes, I'm a Nana, but I'm a cool Nana, lol!) And the black bears too! The Lion enclosure was great. It went up a hill somewhat. Two females were sunning below, and then THE lion decided to make a grand appearance at the top of the hill by their 'entrance arches'. It was magnificent. There was lots more. I've been to lots of zoos and I love them all. This was so memorable to me because it felt like we were closer to the animals more. It was a wonderful day.
Written January 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Turtle Back Zoo

Turtle Back Zoo is open:
  • Sun - Sat 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM


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