The Staten Island Zoo is a great place to bring kids. They have a great reptile house and tons of fish. They have a petting zoo and a pony ride. They have great habitats that go far beyond just an animal in a big cage. My favorite part is the baby animal nursery, which is surrounded by glass and never ceased to amaze the kids I have brought there as a camp counsellor. However, this is not a good zoo for adults alone or for that quirky date. It's not the bronx zoo, people, but it is a great full-day outing for the kids.
Just don't save the babboon habitat for after lunch - let's just say that's their frisky time...I needed a crowbar to get my 8year old boys from camp out of there, and I imagine their parents got a lot of questions that night.