Safari Playground

Safari Playground, also known as the “Hippo Playground,” is one of the most popular playgrounds in Central Park, well-known for its naturalistic sculptures of hippopotamuses scattered around a “river.”

The playground was designed in 1997, inspired by a similar playground in nearby Riverside Park, with hippos designed by the artist Bob Cassilly, well-known for his animal sculptures. The Central Park Conservancy rebuilt this playground in 2019—a project that included casting new versions of the hippo sculptures and designing new features including play mounds and an interactive water feature. The playground is located on a hill near the West 93rd Street entrance with sweeping views of the Reservoir.

Central Park has 21 playgrounds that are unique in design and character. Most of them were built in the 1930s as part of a system of playgrounds located along the Park perimeter. The Central Park Conservancy regularly updates these spaces to include new equipment and infrastructure that reflect changing ideas about children’s play and safety and accessibility standards. Since 2011, the Conservancy has been working to rebuild or renovate all the Park’s playgrounds, with the goal of bringing each of them up to the same standard of excellence at the same time and focusing on making them feel more connected to the Park’s landscapes and experiences.

A small child sits atop one of the sculptures of a hippo in the playground.
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Each year, more than three million children visit Central Park's playgrounds. Playground Partners raises funds that go toward the preservation, care, and daily inspection of these cherished play spaces.

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