This is a press release from Essex County. Press releases are official statements that have not been independently verified.
Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced COVID-19 vaccinations will be given at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo. Anyone who gets their first dose of a Coronavirus vaccine at the “I Got Vaccinated at Turtle Back Zoo!” will receive a voucher for one free admission to the zoo. It will be held as follows:
Date: Saturday, June 5, 2021
Times: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Place: Essex County South Mountain Recreation Complex
Essex County Turtle Back Zoo
560 Northfield Avenue
West Orange, NJ
“Significant progress has been made to get the public vaccinated for COVID-19. However more work must be done to get at least 70 percent of the population vaccinated so herd immunity can occur,” DiVincenzo said. “Offering visitors to Turtle Back free admission may be an incentive for some people who are hesitant to get vaccinated. Turtle Back Zoo is a popular family destination and getting vaccinated is the best way to protect our loved ones from contracting the virus,” he said.
Visitors are eligible to receive a voucher if they are receiving their first dose of the vaccine. The voucher can be used through September 1, 2021. No appointment is necessary. Pfizer and J&J vaccines will be administered. People ages 18 and older are eligible to receive the J&J vaccine. People ages 12 and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.
There isn’t any out of pocket costs to receive the vaccine. However, if someone does have medical insurance, Essex County is allowed to bill the insurance carrier a $40 fee for each dose of the vaccine. If a visitor does not have medical insurance, the cost of the vaccine will be covered by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund.
Turtle Back Zoo is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults, $14 for senior citizens over 62 and children ages 2 to 12, and free for children under 2. To promote social distancing, tickets must be purchased in advance at turtlebackzoo.com/admission-hours/. For more information, visit www.essexcountynj.org/turtlebackzoo or call 973-731-5800.
Essex County Turtle Back Zoo has roared back to life from the verge of closure by a previous administration. Attendance reached an all-time high of 907,522 in 2017 and the zoo has operated as a self-sustaining facility with revenue collected exceeding operating expenses. In addition, Turtle Back is accredited by American Humane, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Zoological Association of American, a clear indication that an institution is committed to the highest standards in animal care, ethics, conservation and education. It also has been named the Best Zoo in New Jersey by NJ Monthly magazine four times and received a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.com three times.
Revitalizing Essex County Turtle Back Zoo
Since taking office in 2003, DiVincenzo has spearheaded over $100 million in upgrades to Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, which have included updating the Turtle Back Junction Train Station to enhance public access; developing the African Adventure with four Masai giraffes, lions and hyenas, and South African Penguins; the Drill Family Flamingo Exhibit; Leopard Exhibit; a new Educational Building; the Carousel with 33 figures of endangered animals; the Sea Lion Sound Exhibit with sea lions, sharks and sting rays; the Big Cat Country Exhibit with jaguars and cougars; Tam-ring Gibbons Reserve with white cheeked gibbons apes, Reeves muntjac and white naped cranes; Australian Exhibit that features kangaroos, wallabies, emus and over 500 birds in the Aviary; Reptile and Education Center, open air dining pavilion and playground, Penguin Exhibit, Otter Exhibit, Wolf Exhibit, Alligator Exhibit, North American Animal Exhibit, Black Bear Exhibit, Animal Hospital, Essex Farm Petting Zoo and South American Animal Exhibit; renovating the Food Pavilion for year-round use and making upgrades to the entrance as well as fencing and infrastructure to meet AZA requirements. Funding has been provided through Green Acres grants, existing capital improvement bonds, or donations from the Zoological Society, Essex County Parks Foundation, corporations or private foundations. Corporations that have provided support include Investors Bank, Prudential Financial, Inc., Wells Fargo, PNC Bank, PSE&G, Verizon, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Coca Cola, Capital One Bank, TD Bank, Aramark, Covanta Energy, Matrix Development Group, the family of Ronald Mount and OxyMagic carpet cleaning.
The Essex County Park System was created in 1895 and is the first county park system established in the United States. The Park System consists of more than 6,000 acres and has 23 parks, five reservations, an environmental center, a zoo, Treetop Adventure Course, ice skating rink, roller skating rink, three public golf courses, golf driving range, two miniature golf courses, five off-leash dog facilities, a castle and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. Turtle Back Zoo is located in Essex County’s South Mountain Reservation and was opened to the public in 1963.