Fauna and Fun in the city
43-50 Main St.
Flushing, NY 11355
A great place to visit during the summer, the
Queens Botanical Garden features a peaceful environment
full of woodland, herb and perennial gardens,
a home-composting exhibit, arboretum and seasonal
arrays of tulips, roses and annuals. The Garden
offers special programs throughout the year.
For the slightly older sect, there is the Wedding
Garden, a serene place where couples are photographed.
The Queens Botanical Garden has a few restrictions
so be sure to check the Web site.
the Queens Zoo children crowd around as they
watch a porcupine.
53-51 111th St.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
While not as famous as its borough brethren, the
Queens Zoo boasts one of the largest major collections
of animals of the Americas, including birds and
sea creatures. Additionally, the Queens Zoo is
the only New York home to spectacled bears, an
endangered species from the Andes Mountains. Unlike
the Central Park and Prospect Park Zoos, the Queens
Zoo has only existed since 1968, and has only
been open to the public since 1992.
It is unique in that it has the feel of a national
park, as its many inhabitants are presented in
their various American habitats, from the Great
Plains to the rocky California coast. The Queens
Zoo is operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society
in partnership with the New York City Department
of Parks and Recreation.
The Wildlife Conservation
2300 Southern Blvd.
Bronx, New York 10460
After a few transfers by bus or subway you will
come upon a world of exotic animals that spans
the globe. Stepping through the gates of the Bronx
Zoo you're turning a summer afternoon into an
excursion deep within the seven continents.
As the flagship of the largest network of metropolitan
zoos in the country and the heart of the Wildlife
Conservation Society; the Bronx Zoo brings you
straight into Africa nose-to-nose with Western
lowland gorillas, zebras, nayals and Thompson's
gazelles. If you keep your eyes peeled there could
even be a chance encounter with an Asian peacock
that could quite possibly like exploring as much
as your family does.
Back near the Himalayan Highlands Habitat, the
treasures of Asia can be spotted from snow leopards
to red pandas - as well as the Bengal tigers.
Even though at times its hard to remember you're
still in North America, the grizzly bears, called
the most dangerous animal in North America (next
to humans), will remind you you're at home, while
the polar bears make you wonder just how far away
you really are, and that it's summer not winter!
And to think for just $15 for adults, $11 for
kids and $13 for seniors, you can be within arm's
reach of animals from across the world and learn
something, too, as the Zoo's Education Department
gives you the keys to the animal kingdom through
programs focusing on the natural world and its
much-needed protection. The Bronx Zoo is open
365 days a year.
Atlantis Marine World
431 East Main St.
'Wild Man' Brill Takes Lunch in Park
By Noah C. Zuss
|“Wild Man” Steve Brill is a renowned naturalist and author.
stroll through the park is anything other than
ordinary with self-proclaimed "Wild Man" Steve
Brill. A casual observer may happen to notice
ordinary plants, shrubs and berries growing along
a path in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, but only
when accompanied by such a skilled forager can
the intricacies of local foliage be fully exposed.
Brill makes it his business to know the edibility,
medicinal uses and history of modest green growths
like wood Sorrel, Poke Weed, Poor Man's Pepper,
Mulberries and other native plants.
His naturalist tours are fun, local activities
for all ages to take part in the ecological environment
of New York City during the long, hot summer months
while the kids are out of school.
"I teach people about wild medicinal plants that
have been around that the Indians ate," Brill
Not only are his eco tours fun, they are also
educational and informative for urbanites that
otherwise would be in the dark, stuffing berries
up their noses.
One recent Saturday morning he entertained a group
of senior citizens from a nearby residence. The
meeting began at the Queens Museum of Art where
Brill gave samples of locally found edible plants,
explained their history and medicinal uses.
All of the plants Brill samples were used for
generations for their medicinal uses.
|Brill leads tours and educates about edible nature plant species.
Black Birch Tree branch for example acts as a
mild painkiller and is perfect for teething children
to chew on while going through the ordeal.
Brill uses these methods often in his own life
and gave Black Birch to his daughter when she
was very young to dull her teething pain.
Another common edible green plant with historical
applications is the Poor Man's Pepper. Historically
peppers were used to cure meats. They were key
to staving off starvation by prolonging the time
a piece of meat was edible. The Poor Man's Pepper,
related to the Mustard Green, could be easily
found in medieval villages and used instead of
more expensive, far-flung peppers from Asia.
Throughout the year Brill works with school, library
and senior citizen groups and many others to educate
those interested about the diversity of plant
Some plants can be very poisonous. Brill cautions
anyone daring enough to eat native species to
consult scientific manuals or to visit his Web
site if unsure about a plant.
To sum up his mission and work, Brill says he
works to promote environmental education because
he feels it is lacking in many schools that strictly
focus on boosting test scores. He also sees naturalist
education as helping connect people of many generations
to their local environs.
"People overlook our renewable resources," he
says. By learning about the things our ancestors
knew about generations ago, it connects people
to our planet."