The Philadelphia Zoo
Animals and plants thrive at America’s first zoo
One of the best laid-out and most animal-packed zoos in the country, the Philadelphia Zoo is set among a charming 42-acre Victorian garden with tree-lined walks, formal shrubbery, ornate iron cages and animal sculptures.
The zoo has garnered many “firsts” in addition to being the first zoo charted in the United States (1859), including the first orangutan and chimp births in a U.S. zoo (1928), the world’s first children’s zoo (1957) and the first U.S. exhibit of white lions (1993), among others.
In addition to its animals, the zoo is known for its historic architecture, which includes the country home of William Penn’s grandson, its botanical collections of over 500 plant species, its groundbreaking research and its fine veterinary facilities.
Animals at the Philadelphia Zoo are on the move like never before. With the new animal exploration trail experience called Zoo360, a campus-wide network of see-through mesh trails affords more opportunities for animals to roam around and above zoo grounds.
This is another first — both at America’s first zoo and in the world — and continues the zoo’s commitment to excellence in animal care and to inspiring guests to conservation action. See tigers, orangutans, lemurs and other animals explore above your head and around the zoo.
Plus, the zoo’s Big Cat Crossing exhibit (which is part of Zoo 360) was recently named the winner in the Best Zoo Exhibit category of USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest.
For more information on Zoo 360, click the button below.
PECO Primate Reserve
As you approach PECO Primate Reserve, imagine for a minute that a group of primate conservationists have taken up residence in an abandoned timber mill to help save primates from around the world.
All over the two-and-a-half acres of indoor and outdoor exhibits, you’ll hear the stories of real people who dedicate their lives to saving some of the world’s most endangered primate and see orangutans, gorillas, gibbons and more.
KidZooU: Hamilton Family Children’s Zoo & Faris Family Education Center is an L.E.E.D.-certified indoor/outdoor children’s zoo boasting a barnyard where kids can pet and brush sheep, mini-horses, goats, chickens and ducks and an indoor education center and wildlife academy teeming with coral reef fish, colorful parakeets, desert ants and more.
Kids learn how saving energy saves wildlife at the action stations, and they burn off some of their own energy on play equipment, climbing ramps and spheres.
What’s more, throughout the zoo, visitors can look up to see an extension of the existing Treetop Trail that allows primates to travel overhead through the trees; it’s part of the zoo’s ongoing campus-wide travel system for animals.
For more info on KidZooU, click the button below.
McNeil Avian Center
The 17.5-million McNeil Avian Center incorporates lush, walk-through habitats where visitors can discover more than 100 spectacular birds from around the world, many of them rare and endangered.
And in the multi-sensory 4-D Migration Theater, viewers can follow Otis the Oriole on his first migration south from where he hatched in Fairmount Park.
Big Cat Falls
The pride of the Philadelphia Zoo, First Niagra Big Cat Falls, home to felines from around the world, opened in 2006. The lush exhibition features waterfalls, pools, authentic plantings and a simulated research station for aspiring zoologists.
Lions, leopards, jaguars, pumas and tigers are the star attractions.
The Philadelphia Zoo is open daily, year-round.
The zoo has several parking lots, as well as a four-story parking garage. Head to the zoo’s website for real-time updates on if and when certain lots are filled.
Public transit is also great option. SEPTA Routes 15 and 32 buses stop within blocks of the zoo. For stops and schedules, visit Septa’s official website.
You can also reach the Zoo with the Phlash shuttle when it is in season.
The nation’s first zoo was chartered in 1859, but the impending Civil War delayed its opening until 1874.
In addition to its animals, the zoo is known for its historic architecture, which includes the country home of William Penn’s grandson; its botanical collections of over 500 plant species; its groundbreaking research and its fine veterinary facilities. With Zoo360 and other innovations, Philadelphia Zoo is positioned to keep making history.
For more information on the zoo, click the button below.
In the neighborhood
Museums & Attractions
North Horticultural Drive, near Horticulture Center Lansdowne Glen Philadelphia, PA 19131
- Abraham Lincoln
- John B. Kelly (The Rower)
- Please Touch Museum
- Mann Center for the Performing Arts
- Smith Memorial Arch and Whispering Benches
- Fairmount Park Horticulture Center
- First Niagara Big Cat Falls
- General Ulysses S. Grant
- View more attractions
Restaurants & Dining