History of America’s Oldest Zoo

by Erich Martin

Apr 7, 2019
Trends / History

Aside from putting on a few excellent beer festivals and doing amazing work for animal conservation, The Philadelphia Zoo is notable for a few other reasons, including its history as the oldest zoo in the country.


The Philadelphia Zoo is accessible by public transportation from the main railroad hub at 30th Street Station. The zoo has achieved a number of memorable firsts since it was chartered as the first zoo in the country in 1859. The impending Civil War pushed the opening of the zoo until the early 1870s. Since then, the zoo has done its part in pushing for conservation and the welfare of its animal residents. Over the years, the zoo became the first to host Orangutan and Chimpanzee births, in 1928, and was designated as the world’s first children’s zoo in 1957.


The zoo is home to just about 1,300 species, many rare or endangered. In addition to the animals, the zoo has a vast collection of plants and state-of-the-art veterinary facilities to keep the animals safe and healthy.


Over the years, this zoo has gone above and beyond to improve the quality of life for its residents. Programs such as Zoo360 give animals new perspectives and experiences by allowing them out of their normal homes to venture above and around the zoo. Lions, tigers, large apes like gorillas and orangutans and certain gibbons use these paths, and the zoo is always looking for ways to enrich the lives of the animals.


Every year, the zoo hosts an annual Global Conservation Gala in the fall, which honors individuals who had a positive impact on conservation around the world. The zoo’s biggest recent additions in terms of habitat upgrades include Penguin Point, home to Humboldt Penguins, Red Panda Pass and Otter Falls.




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