The Philadelphia Zoo, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the West Bank of the Schuylkill River, was the first zoo in the United States. Chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on March 21, 1859, its opening was delayed by the American Civil War until July 1, 1874. It opened with 1,000 animals and an admission price of 25 cents. For a brief time, the zoo also housed animals brought over from safari on behalf of the Smithsonian Institution, which had not yet built the National Zoo in the 1850s. The Philadelphia Zoo is one of the premier zoos in the World for breeding animals that have been found difficult to breed in captivity.
The zoo also works with many groups around the world to protect the natural habitats of the animals in their care. The zoo is 42 acres (17 ha) and is home to more than 1,300 animals, many of which are rare and endangered. The zoo features a children's zoo, a balloon ride, a paddleboat lake, a rainforest themed carousel, and many interactive and educational exhibits.
Features Of The Zoo:
- The Rare Animal Conservation Center: Interactive graphics and up-close views of some of the world's most endangered animals: giant Rodrigues fruit bats, naked mole rats, blue-eyed lemurs, tree-kangaroos, and more.
- The Reptile and Amphibian House: Features over 125 species of amphibians and reptiles, including giant tortoises, many crocodilians and the venomous King Cobra.
- Small Mammal House: Features many species of small mammals, such as meerkats, echidnas, pygmy marmosets, vampire bats, and many others.
- McNeil Avian Center: An aviary finished in 2009 featuring many species of birds, mainly from Africa, the Pacific Islands, South America, and other places. Some species include the Micronesian Kingfisher, Guam Rail, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Mariana Fruit Dove, Victoria Crowned Pigeon, and many others. There is also a 4-D Migration Theater telling the story of an oriole named Otis's migration.
- Bird Valley: A section near the McNeil Avian Center featuring an artificial creek running down a small hill. It's home to waterfowl, Humboldt penguins, flamingos,and Turkey vultures.
- Big Cat Falls: Features numerous species of wild cats including African Lions, Black Jaguars, Amur Tigers, and Pumas. It was in this area of the zoo that Rocky Balboa proposed to Adrian in Rocky II, although that original site, the Carnivora House, has been revamped and renovated into its current Big Cat Falls.
- Carnivore Kingdom: Features a family of six rare, playful Giant Otters, Southern Ground Hornbills, Red Pandas, and Canadian Lynx in unique naturalistic environments.
- African Plains: Features Ostriches, a White Rhino, Mhorr Gazelle, reticulated giraffes, Addax, zebras, and hippos.
- Exotic South American animals: Use to feature such animals as Giant Anteaters and capybaras but now features an okapi and red-river hogs.
- Educational programs are offered for children age three and older. Summer camps are offered for grade school aged children.
- The Animal Health Center: The Philadelphia Zoo hosts one of the nation's busiest and most comprehensive animal hospital and health-care facilities.
- The Zooballoon: a tethered helium balloon, rises 400 feet (120 m) in the air to offer a view of the Zoo, the Schuylkill River, and the Philadelphia Center City skyline.
- The only breeding giant otters in North America. The zoo was also the first to exhibit them in 1996 and the first and only to breed them in 2004.
- Peafowl walk around the zoo freely.