About the Wildlife Conservation Society

Founded in 1895 as the New York Zoological Society, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) was one of the first conservation organizations in the U.S. The Society began with a clear mandate: Advance wildlife conservation, promote the study of zoology, and create a first-class zoo.

The Bronx Zoo opened its gates to the public on November 8, 1899, joining the ranks of New York City’s most beloved cultural institutions. Its success led WCS to acquire four more wildlife parks over the course of the twentieth century. In 1902, WCS took over management of the New York Aquarium, then in Manhattan’s Battery Park, and in the mid-1950s, relocated it to Coney Island, Brooklyn. In 1988, the former menagerie in Manhattan’s Central Park reopened as WCS’s Central Park Zoo. The Queens Zoo and Prospect Park Zoo opened in 1992 and 1993, respectively. Together, the five parks draw more than 4 million visitors a year.

The Wildlife Conservation Society is a 501(c)(3) public charity.

Connecting people to wild nature


WCS is committed to teaching children and adults about wild animals and wild habitats, creating new advocates for their protection. Our pioneering environmental education programs reach millions from the Bronx to Bhutan and Brooklyn to Bolivia. Children enjoy the Wildlife Theater Players’ musical puppet performances, teens participate in wildlife science career exploration programs, and international educators learn techniques in building conservation awareness in their home countries.

Read more about WCS's Education Programs

Protecting wildlife and wild places

WCS has been at the forefront of conservation and field research since its earliest days, beginning with a successful effort to save the American bison from extinction in 1907. To date, our work has helped to create more than 100 protected areas around the world, in landscapes and seascapes ranging from the coastal forests of Gabon to the coral reefs of Belize. These areas encompass some of the wildest places that remain on Earth, and are home to animals that are vulnerable to extinction, important to humans, and powerful icons of nature.

Read more about the WCS Global Conservation Program