Occupying an area of 31 hectares or 77 acres, the Pittsburgh Zoo boasts of over 4,000 animals from 475 diverse species which include twenty endangered or threatened kinds. It?s a primary facility which combines an aquarium and a zoo. There are only six major facilities of its kind in the entire United States and the zoo is one of them. It is also an officially recognized part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and champions the conservation and preservation of threatened and endangered species.
The Pittsburgh Zoo was inaugurated on June 14, 1898 after funding was secured through the contribution of Christopher Lyman Magee amounting to $125,000 which is approximately worth four million dollars today. Magee?s donation was originally intended for the creation of a zoological garden in the city?s Highland Park. When it was finished, it was similar to the other zoos established during its era which are more like menageries. Through the years, the animal displays took on a more naturalistic approach while the zoo?s main objective zoomed in on conservation.
The Pittsburg Zoo is segmented into seven themed divisions. The first of which is the Kid?s Kingdom which was inaugurated in 1949 when the entire zoological garden was known as Children?s Zoo. This part of the zoo is ideal for children as it is very interactive with a number of exhibits such as tunnels where children can crawl to make them feel how it feels like to be a burrowing animal. There are also a number of petting zoos, a playground and a reptile exhibit.
The second section of the zoo is the PPG Aquarium which was established in 1967 and was initially known as AquaZoo. It is composed of two stories and boasts of 45,000 square feet aquarium space and shows a wide range of aquatic habitats. The aquarium revolves around the central idea of ?Diversity of Water? and features different exhibits that showcase a number of marine ecosystems such as an open ocean setting, a penguin exhibit, and a coral reef setting.
The third themed section of the Pittsburgh Zoo is called Asia Forest which houses several wildlife species from Southeast and East Asia. It also recreates the voyage from the Himalayas extending all the way to Indonesia. This part of the zoo also houses some of the most threatened Asian big cat species which include the Amur tiger, Amur leopard and snow leopard just to name a few.
The fourth section is dubbed as the Tropical Forest. It debuted in 1991 and is basically an enclosed rainforest spanning an area of 16 acres. Primate lovers will surely find this part of the zoo a treat as it contains 16 different species of orangutans, gorillas, gibbons, monkeys, great apes and lemurs. There are also other rainforest species found here such as rare frogs and sloths.
From the tropical, visitors will be taken to a safari via the fifth themed segment of the park called the African Savanna. This part of the zoo was finished in 1987 and is designed to create the illusion of someone walking by a river in a prairie in Africa. Rhinos, elephants, African painted dogs, lions and giraffes can be seen roaming around this section.
The oldest exhibits found in Pittsburg Zoo are the bear exhibits which is also the sixth themed division of the zoo. There are three bear species housed here which are the Kodiak Bear, Spectacled Bears and American Black Bears. Unfortunately, the zoo?s Kodiak bear named Rocky died in 2010 at the age of 28.
Rounding up the Pittsburgh Zoo is the recent addition to the zoo called Water?s Edge which was finished in 2006. Located beside the PPG Aquarium, Water?s Edge was built to look like a seaside fishing community and aims to portray how humans relate to marine wildlife in coastal communities. There?s a lengthy tunnel spanning three tanks which display sand tiger sharks, sea otters and polar bears.