The Central Park Zoo was formally chartered in 1864, becoming the USA's second publicly-owned zoo.
In 1874, the New York Herald perpetrated a famous hoax with an article claiming that several of the zoo's dangerous and wild animals were on the loose. The article caused a degree of panic in the city.
You can find some good reasons not to feed animals at the zoo here.
Listen on Spotify: At the Zoo by Simon & Garfunkel