August 17, 2017
Happy 40th Anniversary, Bronx Zoo Monorail
- as seen by -Sana Masood @arkivist@wcsarchives
On August 19, 1977, the Bengali Express Monorail opened in the Wild Asia exhibit at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo. During its past 40 years of operation, the monorail has provided visitors with a unique experience to go into the animals’ world instead of the typical outside view. Without glass and bars in between people and animals, visitors have the opportunity to appreciate the wildlife at a closer perspective. Because visitors face the exhibit and the city behind is blocked, a ride on the monorail feels like a truly immersive experience into the environments of Asian wildlife. Design and construction of the Wild Asia exhibits and the monorail made sure to preserve the natural landscape of the park and to keep the animals undisturbed by the path of the monorail.
The nearly two miles of track take the monorail past rhinos, elephants, red pandas, tigers, and other Asian wildlife as the guide provides information about the animals. Alongside the Asian animals, local American birds, like blue jays and cardinals, can also be seen. A recording plays for visitors to learn about wildlife conservation efforts in Asia. When the exhibit opened, former director of New York Zoological Society/WCS, William G. Conway, was the voice behind the monorail recording. During the era when the exhibit opened, WCS had been conducting research in China, Nepal, and Pakistan for the preservation of Asian wildlife, and the monorail allowed NYZS (now WCS) to bring knowledge of the animals the organization was working to save, and the organization’s efforts towards conservation to the visitors of the Bronx Zoo.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The monorail remains a popular seasonal attraction at the Bronx Zoo. For information, visit bronxzoo.com.