The Staten Island Zoo is a small 8-acre (3.2 ha) urban zoo in northern Staten Island in New York City in the United States. The zoo is open year round except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. It has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 1988.
Zoo construction commenced in 1933 as part of the Federal Government’s works program on an 8-acre (3.2 ha) estate willed to New York City. The land, now called Barrett Park was willed to the City of New York by Mrs. Edward E. Hardin and reconstructed into a zoological park during the Great Depression by the Work Projects Administration. The zoo opened to the public in 1936 and was considered the first U.S. "educational zoo."
Initially the focus of the zoo was reptiles, in particular including the collection of snakes housed in the zoo's Serpentarium. Although the focus of the zoo has broadened, the zoo's collection of rattlesnakes is still regarded as among the largest and most complete in North America. The current collection comprises over 438 animals of over 206 different species. Among the zoo's current exhibits is the African Savannah at Twilight.
The zoo is also the home of Staten Island Chuck, a groundhog who is the official Groundhog Day forecaster for New York City and Grandpa, a Black-handed Spider Monkey who made local newspapers when he accuratly "predicted" the outcome of six out of nine matches during the U.S. Open Tennis Championship.The zoo also houses the horses used by the Parks Department Enforcement Patrol Officers for patrolling the parks and woods of Staten Island.
The Zoo is accessible by public transportation via the S48 Forest Avenue bus from the St. George Ferry Terminal to the corner of Broadway and Forest Avenue. Bus service is also available from the 86th Street Station on the BMT subway "R" line in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and then taking the S53 Port Richmond bus to the stop across the street from the main gate on Broadway.
As of January 2010 the Zoo was working on several renovations. A new carousel and leopard enclosure are being designed by Slade Architecture under the New York City Design Excellence Program.