The Philadelphia Zoo found at the west border of the Schuykill River is the pioneering zoo in the United States. It was established through a decree of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania penned on March 21, 1859. However, its inaugural took a while due to the American Civil War and started accepting visitors in 1874 with 25 cents admission fee and 1,000 animals. Today, the Philadelphia Zoo now occupies 42 acres of land and 1,300 animals call this well-protected and maintained place as a home.
More than just a place to visit, the Philadelphia Zoo is one of the most trailblazing zoological institutions in the world, evidence of which is its capacity to breed animals that others have found challenging to breed in captivity. It also has several alliances with different organizations in an effort to protect the natural habitat of these animals.
Several attractions that cater to different interests can be found within the confines of the zoo. As part of its advocacy to raise awareness and to protect and conserve wildlife, the Rare Animal Conservation Center offers interactive displays and where visitors can take a closer view on some of the world?s most threatened animals including tree kangaroos, blue-eyed lemurs, naked mole rats and giant fruit bats. For those who are interested and want to learn more about snakes and tortoises, the Reptile and Amphibian House showcases over 125 species of reptiles and amphibians. If reptiles and amphibians are not your thing and more of a mammal person, the Small Mammal House features diverse species of pygmy marmosets, meerkats, bats and echidnas.
Still if reptiles and mammals do not satisfy your interest, there?s the McNeil Avian Center which is one of the recent additions to the park established in 2009. The highlight of this bird sanctuary is two species of bird that no longer exist in the wild: the Guam Rail and the Micronesian Kingfisher. The McNeil Avian Center also showcases a state of the art 4D theatre which documents how birds migrate. There is another avian facility just adjacent to the McNeil Avian Center which houses birds that are fun to watch.
If you, your friends and your family are fonder of wild and ferocious animals, the Big Cat Falls will not disappoint. This is a new addition to the zoo opened in 2006 through a 20-million donation from the Bank of America and showcases various kinds of wild cats including African lions, Pumas, Black Jaguars and Amur Tigers. If you want to see wild animals in the prowl, head to the Carnivore Kingdom where a Canadian Lynx, Snow Leopards, Red Pandas and Giant Otters hunt in a close copy of their natural environment. You can also opt to go to a mini safari with the African Plains which houses a White Rhino, zebras, giraffes and ostriches.
The Philadelphia Zoo is not only interesting because of the vibrant wildlife that it boasts of. There are also other sights to see and things to do in this animal sanctuary. One is the Channel 6 Zooballoon which offers visitors a 400-foot ride in the air and gives them a stunning bird?s eye view of the zoo and a panoramic view of entire Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Zoo also holds one of United States? most expansive and pioneering animal hospitals.