The Cape May County Zoo in Cape May Court House, New Jersey was a revelation of the most delightful sort!

A woman's hand reaching to a goat's beard at the Cape May County Zoo

By the hair of my chinny chin chin…

Cape May County Zoo with a peacock wandering on the lawn

A gorgeous peacock wandering about at the Cape May County Zoo

Two dromedaries at the Cape May County Zoo

A pair of Dromedaries just hanging out.


Steve and I both grew up spending our summers at the Jersey Shore but somehow neither of us had any idea that this zoo existed. While still living up North we often took our son to the Philadelphia Zoo but we moved to South Florida when he was nine so I will use that as our excuse for never having visited the fabulous Cape May County Zoo. We rectified that by visiting the Cape May County Zoo with our son Brian and his wonderful wife Eve and enjoyed every animal packed second.

A Golden Lion Tamarin at the Cape May County Zoo

A Golden Lion Tamarin doing his tight rope act.

The Golden Lion Tamarin at the Cape May County Zoo

The Golden Lion Tamarin
Photo Credit: Website

A golden headed lion tamarin on a tree branch at the Cape May County Zoo

The Golden Headed Lion Tamarin
Photo Credit: Website

A grey and white tamarin on a rope at the Cape May County Zoo

A Cotton Top Tamarin

Though the zoo opened in 1978, it began way back with The 1942 Park Land Acquisition when approximately 40 acres of what was originally the Matthews plantation was donated to the county to be used as a park and meeting place. In fact, the orchard and Matthews family cemetery remain as part of the park today. The dedication of the Cape May County Zoo within the park was on May 6, 1978. The park and zoo cover about 80 acres today but began quite humbly with only an African lion, spider monkeys, various barnyard animals and New Jersey wildlife animals. In the early 1980s, the zoo gradually integrated more exotic animals such as black bears, bison, antelope, more primates and birds.

A lioness relaxing on a rock at the Cape May County Zoo

Queen of the Jungle

A single giraffe on the lawn at the Cape May County Zoo

The majestic Giraffe at the Cape May County Zoo

A pair of zebras standing in the shade of an umbrella at the Cape May County Zoo

Two Zebras seeking some shade under that cool umbrella.

But the real renaissance began in 1986 with a huge campaign soliciting donations for major reconstruction. Some of the projects that were completed were a complete perimeter fence, a new lion exhibit, a Bengal tiger exhibit, a cougar exhibit, a giraffe and camel exhibit, a reptile house and construction of a medical building and diet preparation building. And in 1989 the zoo became AZA-accredited and remains so today. AZA, or the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, is the global leader in wildlife conservation. Less than 10% of the approximately 2,800 animal exhibitors licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are AZA accredited.

A sign with info about the bald eagle at Cape May County Zoo

The Bald Eagle Info

A young bald eagle in his habitat at Cape May County Zoo

Meet Foles an adolescent Bald Eagle. He’s named for the 2018 Super Bowl Champion’s Eagles Quarterback!

A family of ring-tailed lemurs at the Cape May County Zoo

I just adore the Lemurs!!! Look at those adorable faces.
Photo Credit: Website

Throughout the 1990s, renovations were made and new exhibits continued to be added, such as an African Savannah, which consisted of 57 acres that display giraffes, zebras, antelopes, and ostriches. Reconstruction of a reptile house replaced the original reptile house that was destroyed by fire in 1998, also a “World of Birds” walk-through Aviary was constructed. In 2007, the Cape May County Zoo received 13 flamingos from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. The Cape May Zoological Society added a train and added an animal-themed carousel late in the summer of 2008.

A Green Tree Python resting on a tree branch at the Cape May County Zoo

A Green Tree Python

A woman with a large black bear statue at the Cape May County Zoo

So excited to get a bear hug from this big guy before we left the Cape May County Zoo!

What began with an animal population of around 70 animals has grown into the zoo we know today consisting of 550 animals representing 250 species. The Cape May County Park and Zoo are open year-round and admission is FREE!