Among my favorites - and not just because it's the closest to where I live - is the Prospect Park Zoo, on the eastern side of Brooklyn's Prospect Park. At just twelve acres, it's easy to navigate, and it has a host of interesting animals that remind New Yorkers that the creature world extends far beyond the rats, pigeons, and Coney Island whitefish with whom we share our unnatural habitat.
On a recent trip to the Prospect Park Zoo, we gazed at sea lions playing in their 360-degree aquatic enclosure, poison dart frogs clinging to leaves in a glass display (presumably looking for something to kill), and two red pandas, which aren't pandas at all, but do serve as the inspiration for Mozilla's Firefox logo. They're cool.
Coolest of all, however, was the park's peacock (pictured), which unfurled its lavish, Mark Spitz-inspired tail feathers for the first time this year just as we happened to enter its aviary. We know this because one of the zoo employees told us that she'd been waiting weeks for the display, making us thank our dumb luck for stumbling in at the right time. The proud bird strutted left and right for several minutes, doing a little dance worthy of that Planet Earth show, in an attempt to impress a nearby peahen. The peahen was playing it cool, but I could tell she was digging his show.
A few snakes, prairie dogs, and monkeys later, we were on our way to lunch at Two Boots Brooklyn. We were happy to have gone to the zoo at all, but being able to witness the peacock's impressive mating ritual in the middle of Brooklyn made it all the sweeter.
[Photo: Victor Ozols]