Turtle Back Zoo

About Us

Update Regarding RE-OPENING

RESERVE YOUR ZOO ADMISSION SPOTRESERVE YOUR MEMBERSHIP ZOO ADMISSION SPOT

BECOME A MEMBER

Turtle Back Zoo is your zoo! Membership in the Zoological Society of New Jersey 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.

JOIN THE ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY FOR UNLIMITED ADMISSIONS

LOOKING FOR A GIFT FOR THAT ZOO FAN?

GRAB A ZOO GIFT CARD!

Gift Cards can be redeemed only for Zoo General Admission and Zoo Education Programming. Gift Cards CANNOT be used to purchase: Zoo Membership, Gift Shop merchandise, Café or other food offerings. Gift Cards expire December 31, 2021. Gift Cards cannot be redeemed for cash. Gift Card will be sent via email for redemption. Please allow 48 hours for e-gift card to be activated.

PURCHASE A GIFT CARD

Tickets are only valid for date and time specified. You have a 30-minute time frame to enter the Zoo after the time specified on your ticket. Do not get in line to enter until we are within your time block. Anybody who arrives any earlier will have to wait in the car. Early or late arrivals will NOT be accommodated. There will be no Re-Entry. Please ensure that you have everything with you before entering the zoo. For a Contact-Free Entry, we prefer that you do not print your tickets; rather just show the confirmation email on your phone to the cashier at the entrance.

Per our County Health Inspector & Zoo Veterinary Staff guidelines, guests will be required to wear a face covering that covers your nose and mouth (please be prepared to bring your own). Guests who are unable to wear masks are asked to produce a medical note advising that these requirements are to be waived. The individual’s health condition does not have to be stated in the doctor’s note.

Please do not enter the Zoo if you are feeling ill.

Strollers will not be available for rent. Please prepare accordingly.

Wheelchairs will still be available on a first come, first serve basis.

Our Pony Ride Attraction and Giraffe Feed are now open from 10:30am – 12:30pm and 2pm – 4pm. *For the health and safety of our animals, face coverings must be worn on this ride. No exemptions.

The Train will be CLOSED due to winter. Reopening in March 2021.

Our Carousel and Prehistoric Playground are now OPEN. Please note due to social distancing, not all animals are available for use at the carousel.

When you walk around the Zoo, you’ll note markers to help you line up and social distance. For our indoor areas, there will be new, one-way traffic patterns and capacities. These include the indoor exhibits at the Reptile House, Touch Tank, Sea Turtle Recovery, and Penguins. Our Bear House will remain closed for the time being.

Restrooms will be on a sanitation schedule, so they will be closing down at specific times of the day. The restrooms at the picnic area & cafe restrooms will be closed.

Our water fountains & vending machines are closed. The Cafe will be open for Pizza, Grill and Grab-and-Go options. The Gift Shop will be open with limited capacities.

TICKETING

Ticket capacity is limited to allow for social distancing.

  • Guarantee your zoo visit by purchasing your tickets ahead of time. Same day tickets may be limited at the gate.
  • Reservations are made for a specific date and time to ensure the Zoo is operating safely within the capacity limit and adhering to the proper social distancing requirements.
  • Member admission will still be free, but tickets MUST be reserved ahead of time.
  • Visitors will not be admitted into the Zoo before their ticketed time slot.
  • There are No Refunds or Exchanges. The Zoo is open Rain or Shine, so please plan your trip accordingly.
  • Face Coverings & Social Distancing must be observed throughout your visit. There are social distancing graphics throughout the zoo for your convenience.

As you know, Essex County Turtle Back Zoo is continually renovating and upgrading to create a fun, safe and educational experience for our customers. You may now notice a “fee” on your transaction. This has previously been a part of your zoo admission, but our online ticketing now has been updated to include this fee as a separate line item on the ticketing side.

The funds generated are specifically allocated to be used on enhancements at the South Mountain Recreational Complex. The fee is $2.00 per paid ticket type. Free tickets do not incur a fee. We thank you for your support. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact us at #973-731-5800 x0.

Re-Opening FAQ

As we begin to plan for our re-opening, new information will be updated here.

  • Yes, reservations are required for both members and non-members. Reservations are made for a specific date and time to ensure the Zoo is operating safety within the capacity limit and adhering to the proper social distancing requirements.
    • General admission and member reservations are limited each day. Once capacity is reached, we will be unable to allow entry to any more guests.
    • Members will need their photo ID, membership card and reserved tickets (printed or on phone) to check in.
    • Guests with general admission will need their reserved tickets (printed or on phone) to check in.
    • Guests must arrive within their reserved time slot to ensure capacity is not exceeded.
    • If you arrive early for your designated time slot, please wait in your vehicle until your time slot begins.

Tickets must be purchased ahead of time online. We accept all major credit and debit cards.

If you need to use cash to purchase a ticket, please call ahead of time at 973-731-5800 x0.

Cash will be accepted at all of our concession and gift locations.

Capacity within time slots is limited. We ask that all guests make every effort to arrive on time as we may not be able to accommodate you in another time slot. If you have a concern please call 973-731-5800 x0.

In order for a timed reservation system to work as best as possible, please make sure you are able to attend your reserved slot at time of purchase. Tickets are non-refundable, non-exchangeable and non-transferable. Please note also Essex County Turtle Back Zoo is open rain/snow or shine. Essex County Turtle Back Zoo provides no refunds due to inclement weather. 

Zoo visitors are REQUIRED to wear face coverings while visiting the Zoo. Please make sure you have a face covering with you.

This does not apply to children under the age of two. Guests who are unable to wear masks, or who have a medical condition that would produce a consistently elevated temperature are asked only asked to produce a medical note advising that these requirements are to be waived. The individual’s health condition does not have to be stated in the doctor’s note.

There is no time limit to how long you can stay in the Zoo, however there is no re-entry, so when you leave zoo grounds, you are leaving for that timed ticket visit. Attractions and animal exhibits being to close down at 4:30.

At this time, we are not able to accept reciprocal memberships online. If you need assistance, please call 973-731-5800 x0.

At this time, group size is limited to 15 people or less. It is recommended that groups contain members of the same household.

If you arrive early for your designated time slot, please wait in your vehicle until your time slot begins. You will have to get your temperature scanned before proceeding into line. You have the full 30-minute window of you ticket time to enter the Zoo.

In order to safely operate within our capacity restrictions there will be no re-entry.

The Cafe will have Grab-and-Go food available for purchase. The menu will be limited. No indoor seating will be available, and outdoor seating will be limited. The Gift Shop will also have some Grab-and-Go items.

Yes, you are welcome to bring in your own food, although please note there will be no available indoor seating areas and any outdoor seating will be limited.

Not in this phase of our re-opening.

Stroller rental will NOT be available in this phase of our re-opening. You are able to bring your own stroller, though some exhibits and attractions will not let you bring a stroller in.

Wheelchairs will be available on a first come, first serve basis. Please note these are not motorized wheelchairs.

Restrooms will be on a sanitation schedule, so they will be closing down at specific times of the day. The restrooms at the carousel, picnic area, & cafe restrooms will be closed.

The Zoo is open rain/snow or shine. Essex County Turtle Back Zoo provides no refunds due to inclement weather.

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