Can't Find Parking at the Zoo?

Zoo patrons, West Orange residents, and even a former Planning Board member have been complaining about limited parking at the Zoo for years. Those complaints continue to fall on deaf ears. A contributing factor to parking issues?  Parking for swan boats, pedal boats, security barrier storage, pallets of stone, &  more.

Mommy, Do You Want a Beer?

Bring your children to the Africa-themed Turtle Back Zoo, and stop in at the Zanzibar Cafe for beer & wine! Perhaps hyenas and giraffes look cooler with a buzz?

Big Enough

Essex County prides itself on the Turtle Back Zoo, while many West Orange residents say enough is enough. Traffic, parking, pedestrian safety, animals that don't thrive in NJ climates... West Orange is not Orlando, and residents don't want a Disney in their back yard.

No to Zoo Expansion (Petition)

Help give the Zoo animals a voice, and lend a hand to West Orange residents, friends, and family. Please consider signing the TBZ Petition. Thank you!

Sign Here

Planning Board Mtg: OGWO Member Reports Back

Planning Board Meeting, 09-05-2018

As reported by a West Orange resident, and member of OGWO:

"The Turtle Back Zoo wants to build a five-story parking deck on the site of the train station and move the train station nearby. 75 trees will come down and 130 trees are to be planted.

It was a fiery evening of questioning the Zoo’s engineers and landscape architect. Even the PB weighed in, especially Lee Klein a traffic engineer on the PB. Everyone was incredulous that there was no traffic study to justify the parking deck and the egress and exit off of Northfield Ave!

Harvey Grossman [WO Public Advocate] also brought up an important matter: the fire codes suggested by our Fire Department were not being adhered to. Imagine a fire breaking out in the train depot or parking area? He vigorously reprimanded them. It was heartwarming.

Why is this important? It is a quality of life issue for WO residents who don’t want our corner of the reservation made into Disneyland. We also don’t want elephants and grizzly bears brought in. How could we sleep at night, knowing they were locked into pens?

We need the zoo to stop driving attendance.

As one resident asked, “What is the capacity of the area? If you are in a restaurant there is a sign on the wall that states the capacity allowed…..”

She added that it took her an hour to drive from the Millburn Diner to her home in West Orange on a Saturday morning.


Human activities that rely on animals can become desperate operations, often defended and obscured by those who make their living from them. Thus the drive for more and bigger animals and more crowds, to prove how great the humans are.

At 10:45 the PB proposed a resolution asking the Zoo for: A traffic study, a green wall to hide the monstrosity, upgrade to the fire prevention plan and a landscape plan.

The County can decide to comply or not."

County Executive Spokesman Answers Questions about TBZ

Anthony Puglisi (County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo's spokesperson) presented the latest news about the Turtle Back Zoo's expansion. He answered questions sent to him by Councilman Joseph Krakoviak,  West Orange's primary Township Council  inquirer on matters involving the Zoo Expansion and the  impacts it has on residents.  (From traffic,  environmental impacts, and noise,  to costs, safety, and transparency.)

Turtle Back Zoo Master Plan

Essex County is spending millions to upgrade the Turtle Back Zoo.


Location: Turtle Back Zoo Education Center, 560 Northfield Ave., W.O.


OGWO states: "The Zoo is now on the verge of becoming both a nuisance and a danger. With 900,000 annual visitors in 2017, the traffic is now noticeable. 

Trees have been planted to replace those that have been cut down for zoo expansion, but they are too close together. One cannot replace a forest ecosystem with trees scattered in traffic areas. The South Mountain reservation was not meant to be developed, it is a reserve.


We are also concerned about the potential for accidents to both pedestrians, visitors, and to the animals themselves. Limited sidewalk and parking options for visitors, poor shuttle service, loss of parking spaces for entrance expansion, seating for persons with disabilities, traffic entanglements on a busy and major thoroughfare, loss of trees and reservation land, and so many rare animals out of their native environments and in the hands of accident-prone humans.


We need to focus on protected land for animals to run free and live normal lives, not be traded, transported or exhibited to the public.

Please consider attending Freeholder meetings to share your thoughts on the Zoo's expansion, attend Town Council Meetings to share your concerns during public comment, write the County Executive, and sign the petition stating that the ZOO IS BIG ENOUGH.


WO does not need $900,000 spent on flamingos - we need $900,000 spent on safety and protection of our natural environment!"



Master Plan