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The Philadelphia Zoo: Steeped in History Full of Fun

The 2 Brothers Playing Ball The 2 Brothers Playing Ball Photo by fPat via Flickr

In 1874 the Philadelphia zoo was opened and immediately brought fun and entertainment to Philly’s steps. It was the first zoo built and opened in the United States and in fact, its opening was delayed somewhat due to the Civil war. Today the 42 acre expanse houses more than 1,300 animals many of which are on the endangered list. But the Philadelphia Zoo is not just another zoo. The exhibits and animals are some of the most amazing in the entire world, and you can get up close and personal with them in this one of a kind zoo.

First Niagara Big Cat Falls

One of the best exhibits at the Philly zoo is the big cat falls exhibit. The habitat for the big cats mimics real life in the wild with stunning accuracy. Some of the endangered big cats in the exhibit include snow leopards, amur leopards, pumas, amur tigers and jaguars. To create socialization for the big cats they are all allowed to roam free amongst each other which provide guests with the rare opportunity to watch cats interact with one another in a unique way. Another cool feature about this exhibit is the fact that you can come face to face with these big cats only separated by a panel of glass. 

Bear Country

Polar BearIf you wander over to bear country you will be amazed at the wildlife environment that has been built for the bears that call the zoo home. Sloth bears, Andean bears, polar bears and a single Asiatic Bear all roam this gorgeous habitat. Bears aren’t just furry fat mammals they are an essential part of the food chain. You and your family will have a blast learning about these bears and seeing them in their natural environment.

Carnivore Kingdom

This section of the park covers 1.5 acres and is home to giant otters, Canada lynx, dwarf mongoose and a red panda. The giant otters you will meet are actually part of a breading program that is aimed at increasing the number of giant otters in the wild. As you roam through the rocky outcrops of the exhibit don’t forget to look in those corner spaces for carnivores lurking and stalking you while you reside safely outside of their reach.

The reptile exercise yard

Tortoise at ZooDuring warm weather the zoo takes its sizeable reptile population out to an exercise yard where they enjoy basking in the sun and fresh air. If you wish to see these amazing creatures up close and personal then take a trip over to the reptile exercise yard.

If you are looking for more interactive activities for the kids to enjoy then check out the Amazon Rainforest Carousel. Once you finish the Carousel ride put your kiddo on a pony or camel for the ride of their lifetime. There is so much to do and see at the Philadelphia Zoo that you can spend all day there with your family. It truly is a wonderful time.


In-season (March to October): 9:30 am to 5:00 pm
Off-season (November to February): 9:30 am to 4:00 pm
Address/Map:  3400 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: (215) 243-1100
Website: Plan your visit to Philadelphia Zoo
Admission: Adult $20 | Child (age 2-11) $18 | Free for members and children under 2
Take a Ride:
Channel 6 Zooballoon
      • Adult or child (age 2 and up) $15 per person
      • Family 4-pack $50 Child (under 2)
Amazon Rainforest Carousel
      • All seated riders $3 per person
      • Family 4-pack $50 Child (under 2)
PZ Express Train
      • All riders $3 per person