WILD NEW JERSEY
Take a hike through a natural area of mature oak, hickory, and maple trees, but with a difference. On your hike you will see bobcat, porcupine, peregrine falcon, turkey vulture, and bald eagle. These native New Jersey animals are in secure naturalistic enclosures, but you have the feeling that you are sharing the woodland together.
The bobcat, absent from New Jersey for many years, has returned and sightings are becoming more frequent. The porcupine, North America’s largest rodent, can be seen in the northern ridge and valley region of the state. The peregrine falcon, an endangered species, is successfully nesting on high bridges, tall buildings, and specially constructed towers and can be seen hunting in these areas. Take a good look at the turkey vulture. In flight this large beneficial bird is often mistaken as a hawk or eagle, but the slight upward vee that the wings form in flight and the white trailing edge of the wing identify it. From the zoo parking lot turkey vultures can often be seen circling over the surrounding South Mountain Reservation.
The bald eagle is the symbol of the United States. These captive eagles belong to the citizens of the United States. Turtle Back Zoo is their official caretaker.
State and national conservation efforts have brought the bald eagle back from the brink of extinction. In 1980 there was just one breeding pair of bald eagles in New Jersey. Today there about 50 successful breeding pair.
Turtle Back Zoo is located at the north end of Essex County’s 2000 acre South Mountain Reservation. A network of trails will take you along ridges and through valleys. You will pass by ponds, streams and hemlock falls. A trail map is available at the zoo office. Make time to visit New Jersey’s natural areas and get to know and appreciate the vast variety of animals and plants that can be seen.