Monthly Archives: January 2013

Message From County Executive



From our smallest spider to the half-ton North American Bison in our Great Plains Exhibit, Essex County’s Turtle Back Zoo offers a look at more than 100 different species of native and exotic animals from five continents. Get up close and personal with our animals at our Essex Farm Petting Zoo, and don’t forget to take a tranquil ride through South Mountain Reservation on our miniature train. Come back often as we constantly are adding new and exciting natural habitat exhibits for our animals. Whether you spend a day or an afternoon, Turtle Back Zoo is a special place where children and their families can learn about animals and gain appreciation for nature. I invite you to Experience Essex and Turtle Back Zoo.


joe's signature-wide




Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.
Essex County Executive


Turtle Back Zoo Map


Official Turtle Back Zoo Map

Click To Enlarge

Click Here to Download Printable PDF Map

Corporate Matching

Many of our sponsors participate in their employer’s matching gift program, in which the employer matches their employees’ charitable contributions by donating an equal amount.

You can increase the impact of your donations to The Zoological Society of New Jersey by participating in your company’s matching gift program. Here’s how to get started:

  • Contact your Human Resources or Payroll Department to find out if they will match your contributions to The Zoological Society
  • Review your company’s policies for their Matching Gift program. Complete any necessary forms and send them to:
Zoological Society of New Jersey, Inc.
Attn:  Corporate Matching Program
560 Northfield Avenue
West Orange, NJ 07052
  • Zoological Society of New Jersey will process your form and return it to your employer. It’s that easy!

Living and Memorial Tributes

donationsignageTurtle Back Zoo Tribute Cards

“Celebration Critters” & “In Loving Memory” tribute cards are a lovely way to tell someone that you are thinking about them and about TBZ’s animals.

Adopt a Bench

donationsignageEssex County Turtle Back Zoo is a wonderful place for people of all ages to stroll through. Walking the hills of the zoo’s 20 acres of landscaped habitats can sometimes be a bit tiring, however, which is why the Zoological Society has purchased new benches that have been placed throughout the zoo. What better way to honor a loved one or promote your business than with an engraved plaque mounted on one of these beautiful benches? Sponsorship of a 6-foot bench is only $500, and a limited number of 10-foot benches are available for $1,000. All sponsorships are tax-deductible and help further the improvement and development of Turtle Back Zoo. Please contact the Zoological Society office at 973 731-5800, ext. 241, for sponsorship opportunities.

Adopt An Animal




Visit our virtual storefront to purchase your Adopt-An-Animal today.



If paying by mail, please make checks payable to the Zoological Society of New Jersey, Inc., at the following address:

Adopt-An-Animal Program
Turtle Back Zoo
560 Northfield Avenue
West Orange, NJ 07052


For $30.00 you can join in supporting one of the larger (and therefore more expensive to provide for) animals. The same yearly program benefits apply. A shared adoption makes a thoughtful gift. As the zoo grows and expands, animals not listed in the brochure may be adopted for an initial fee of $30.00. Animals sometimes die or are moved to another zoo; should it be necessary, you will be notified and your adoption will be transferred to another animal of your choice. Due to popularity, one animal may have more than one sponsor.


It is hard to imagine the thousands of hours of preparation that go into the making of all those meals.
Our Shopping List:

  • 8,000 pounds of meat for the wolves and cats
  • 20,000 pounds of grain and seed for waterfowl and other birds
  • 6,400 pounds of meat for owls, eagles and falcons, etc.
  • 113,617 pounds of hay
  • 65,000 pounds of grain for hooved animals
  • 46,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • 50 dozen eggs
  • 6,000 pounds of fish

From the 1,000 pound Bull Bison to the tiniest baby Turtle, all of the more than 200 animals at Turtle Back Zoo get hungry every day. Their basic dietary needs are provided by a yearly budget administered by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs of the County of Essex. Your sponsorship money goes toward helping with special dietary items and animal care when the budget projection fails to stretch as far as anticipated. Not only food but maintenance and medical needs, when necessary, will be assured through your interest.

You will receive the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to support your favorite animal . . . PLUS the following perks:
  • You will receive an adoption certificate suitable for framing, as well as a fact sheet about your animal;
  • You will receive a photograph of the sponsored animal to display in your home or office, as well as a decorative “I Adopted An Animal” magnetic frame.



You can make a difference…

The Zoological Society of New Jersey supports and sponsors fund raising events to help the financing of new facilities, purchase of equipment and acquisition of animals, as well as funding for special projects. Your donations really do make a difference! We encourage you to give to projects that excite your passion for the Turtle Back Zoo.

Consider your donation as a way to help grow and develop the Zoo by providing much-needed funding for new habitat design & construction, general zoo improvements and conservations education programs.

You can also make a gift to the Society in honor or memory of a special individual.

Click below or call us at 973-731-5800  to make your tax-deductible gift today!

The Zoological Society of New Jersey, Inc. is a 501 c (3) and all contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

Reciprocal Zoos

Click Reciprocal Zoo List to download a list of Reciprocal Zoos that offer either free or discounted admission to members of the Zoological Society of NJ.

Please note that each zoo sets its own discount level for members belonging to zoos with which it shares reciprocity, so you may want to phone in advance the zoo you are considering visiting, in order to inquire as to the discount offered.

Join The Zoological Society

BECOME A MEMBER  (form best viewed in Internet Explorer or Chrome)

Turtle Back Zoo is your zoo! Membership in the Zoological Society of New Jersey, Inc. is your key to supporting the “new” zoo experience to the fullest. The upgraded Society membership program packs more value, fun, and exciting new features into being a member. With special tours and privileges and more options, it is definitely the best buy in Essex County.

All memberships include:

  • Unlimited free admission to the zoo for one year
  • Free admission to members only “Night Moves” events
  • 10% discount at the Turtle Back Zoo Gift Shop
  • Free subscription to the Society’s newsletter, Turtle Talk
  • Reciprocal privileges with more than 110 affiliated zoos and aquariums across the country (please note that the list of zoos with which we have reciprocity is subject to change at any time).

Society members can take great pride in the Zoo’s accreditation by the Association of Zoo’s and Aquariums. Many animals — including the black bears, Arctic wolves, cougars, bobcats, Highland cattle, and many others — have made their home at Turtle Back Zoo thanks to County and membership funds. Many established exhibits, including the Essex Farm petting zoo, the Red Panda exhibit, and the new Reptile Center, as well as new exhibits, including Sea Lion Sound and the Sting Ray Touch Tank, will add to your fun and enjoyment as a member — and many more exhibits are planned.

Why not consider upgrading your membership to get even more benefits from your zoo experience? And remember — a membership in the Zoological Society makes a great gift or honorarium because it keeps giving all year long.

The Zoological Society of New Jersey, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of the State of New Jersey, which is committed to the development of zoological
welfare, research, and conservation of Turtle Back Zoo.



Click here to download an application! (form best viewed in Internet Explorer or Chrome)

Zoo Camps

Join us at Turtle Back Zoo for some wild fun!  We offer week long summer camps for children entering Kindergarten and grades 1-8.  Look also for our fall, winter and spring break camp sessions. Campers will be introduced to the extraordinary world of animals, nature, and science.  Children will enjoy age-appropriate themed camps that include games, teacher-led lessons, behind-the-scenes visits, up-close animal encounters, hands-on science, and fun crafts. 

The mission of Turtle Back Zoo camp is to foster an appreciation for wildlife and the natural world through fun and educational activities.


See the Seas Mini-Camp, Parts I and II

Start 2017 off with zoo fun!

Sign up for See the Seas mini-camps at Turtle Back Zoo.  We will be exploring life in and around the ocean over the course of two mini-camp days.  You’ll discover critters and cultures, investigate scientific questions, and spend time with some of our ambassador animals.  Register for just one, or both days.  We will be going outside, so dress for the weather.

Part I:  Monday, January 16, 2017 from 9am to 4pm

Part II:  Monday, February 20, 2017 from 9am to 4pm (registration now open!)


Camps are for ages 5-10 and require advanced registration and payment. Camp is $80 per day, per child (plus additional fees). Registration is available online only. Space is limited.



Summer Camp Open House

It’s never too early to think of summer!

Saturday, March 4th

12pm to 3pm

Education Center Classrooms

Come to Essex County Turtle Back Zoo’s Summer Camp Open House and check out what’s new and fun at camp for Summer 2017. On Saturday, March 4 from 12pm to 3pm you can meet some of our camp counselors, try a camp-styled activity, and say hello to a few of our Camp Animal Ambassadors.

This is a free event, but we ask that you register in advance HERE. Day-of walk ups are welcome. Registered participants that complete all visitor stations before 2:30pm are eligible for same day zoo admission at the off-season group rate ($8/person).




Save the Date! Summer Camp Registration Opens soon.

Online registration for zoo summer camp opens to Zoo Members on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 6am. Registration for general public opens two weeks later on Saturday, April 1.

Full list of camp dates and times to come shortly.

Need to renew your membership? Not a member yet? Click HERE and take advantage of all the Zoo has to offer.



We have a new system to register for zoo camps. All registration and forms can now be filled out online!

The first step is creating an account with the website HERE

Have more than one child? All the information is kept under one account. Just add a new participant and enter in the information.

We know you might have questions with this new system, so feel free to reach out to us at #973-731-5800 (ex 103, 230, 275, or 236) or use some of the resources below to help answer some of your questions on the new system.

CampDoc has an extensive support page that you can access by clicking the Lifesaver Icon located in the top right corner. Here you will find many helpful documents that can help you use CampDoc to its full potential!


Here is a direct link to the support documents:
If at any time you have questions that may not be in our support pages, you can contact our Help Desk at 734.636.1000 or you can email them at


Please Note:

*New Jersey is considered a “no touch” animal state. Campers will get to see a variety of animals up close, but contact is limited to only domesticated animals.


Upcoming Events

  • February 20, 2017See the Seas Mini-Camp, Parts I and II
  • February 25, 2017 11:00 amSeasonal Job Fair
  • February 25, 2017 2:00 pmSOLD OUT - Zoo Behind the Scenes: Giraffe House
  • February 26, 2017 2:00 pmMembers Only- Zoo Behind the Scenes: Giraffe House
  • March 4, 2017 12:00 pmSummer Camp Open House
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