The oldest zoo in the country is an American favorite because of its breeding program for rare species, outstanding permanent habitats and eco-friendly approach.
The historic Philadelphia Zoo is a compact 42-acre (17-hectare) park housing 1,300 animals in 15 permanent habitats. African and Australian wildlife shares the zoo with North American mammals, birds and reptiles. The zoo’s special breeding program and environmental policy is aimed at protecting endangered species.
This zoo is more than 150 years old but it has kept up with modern standards, such as creating free-roaming habitats. These include the Jungle Bird Walk for birds and Monkey Junction for primates. It’s children’s program actively teaches an eco-friendly lifestyle.
The natural habitats include the lush First Niagara Big Cat Falls and the rocky Carnivore Kingdom. Keep an eye out for the white Timbavati lions, believed to be extinct in the wild. The Philadelphia Zoo has gained a reputation for successfully breeding endangered species that are difficult to propagate in captivity. Meet Vinkel, who in 1994 gave birth to the first white lion cub to be born on U.S. soil. Asian orangutans, Arctic polar bears, Galapagos tortoises and local diamondback terrapin turtles are other threatened species that you can observe here.
Children under 13 can help care for farm animals at the indoor/outdoor KidZooU attraction. On still days, get a bird’s-eye view of the zoo and Philly in the gondola of the big Zooballoon.
The Philadelphia Zoo is located four miles (six kilometers) northwest of downtown, on the west bank of the Schuylkill River. Expect to pay a high parking fee along Girard Avenue or 34th Street. A cheaper option is to catch the Phlash bus in downtown Philly. To see as many zookeeper presentations as possible, check the schedule online. You can have a picnic in the zoo, and various restaurants and carts offer fast food and healthy options.
The zoo is open every day of the year except for major winter holidays. Operating hours vary according to season.