Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America
Philadelphia Zoo was the very first zoo in the United States, and although opening was delayed by the American Civil War it opened in 1874 with 1000 animals. Today, it is a zoo noted for its remarkable success in breeding endangered species that are very difficult to breed in captivity. It is home to more than 1300 hundred animals and comprises 42 acres just outside the historic city of Philadelphia. As older urban zoos, it has reconstructed its animal habitats in recent years for the benefit of the animals, attempting to improved their quality of life and create environments similar to those in their native habitats.
In 1999, the zoo opened a new, state of the art primate exhibit area called the PECO Primate Reserve. The area spans 2.5 acres, and includes both indoor and outdoor areas for the animals. There are 10 species of primates featured in this part of the zoo, including lowland gorillas, Sumatran Orangutans, lemurs, and gibbons. Two groups of gorillas live at the zoo, one a family troop of one male Silverback, Jabari, and three females, Kivu, McKizazi, and Honi and a bachelor duo, Louis and Kuchimba. The orangutans are a couple, Sugi and Tua and their baby, Batu, born at the zoo in 2009. There are daily keeper’s talks and training demonstrations with the great apes, so guests should check the daily schedule upon arrival. Other primates featured in the reserve are a group of colobus monkeys recently arrived from Naples, Florida.
2006 saw the opening of Big Cat Falls, where guests can find 12 big cat species, all of which are endangered. There are African Lions, and Amur Tigers, and jaguars. The Snow Leopards welcomed two new cubs this year, and as those animals are highly endangered, those fuzzy kittens will not only be wonderful to view, but will contribute to the ongoing education and conservation needed to preserve their wild cousins in Asia. The cougars also had three kittens in recent years, and a single black jaguar cub has also recently been welcomed to the world at the Philadelphia Zoo. Guests would be wise to check what babies are now on view when they arrive at the zoo, as they seem to arrive often!
Carnivore kingdom is home to a few other cats, and other meat-eating species. Guests can try to find the elusive Canada lynx, or cute coatis. In this part of the zoo, there are also two giant river otters, an endangered species that is only found in one other zoo in America. The pair of otters is fun to watch, but are also part of a captive breeding program. It may seem odd to also find Red Pandas in the carnivore section of the zoo, but “carnivore” is a grouping that refers to subsets of all types of dogs, cats, raccoons, and bears, and these little red-coated animals are infact bears.
Bear Country is home to a few types of bears, but most popular are probably the two female polar bears, Klondike and Coldilocks. Both were born in captivity in 1980, they both arrived at the zoo as one-year old cubs. There are also Andean Bears, and Asiatic Black Bears. The Rare Animal Conservation Center features all types of highly threatened species, including the Golden Lion Tamarin, the pygmy marmoset, the pied tamarin, and two species of spider monkey. One of the most interesting animals, and one of the most critically endangered animals found at the zoo is the Blue-eyed Black Lemur. The zoo has a breeding pair on loan from the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina. The male is black, but the female is a reddish brown, and both have striking blue eyes.
The zoo offers overnight experiences, and camps for kids. Other fun activities include riding on the Railroad, panning for gems, camel rides, and the choice between riding a pony or a giant Draft horse.