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“It has improved over the years”
Review of Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo
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Ranked #22 of 462 things to do in Philadelphia
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Situated on 42 acres of beautiful gardens, the Philadelphia Zoo, America's first zoo, is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. Polar bears, African lions, Amur tigers, a white rhino, giraffes and more call this oasis home. As Philadelphia's leading cultural destination the Zoo boasts award-winning exhibits such as First Niagara Big Cats Falls, McNeil Avian Center, and PECO Primate Reserve.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Reviewed October 6, 2011

We took a family day trip here in August. The zoo, known as 'America's first zoo', has made some improvements to exhibits since my last visit years ago. Also, there were some exhibits under construction during our visit. The main reason we went was for the children. They loved it.

There are a lot of attractions at the zoo that cost extra (zoo balloon, swan boats, face painting, etc). It can get quite expensive for a family between parking, the entrance fee, food and these extras. You can easily average over $30+ per person, including children.

Some of the animals that are at this zoo include reptiles, tigers, lions, monkeys, gorillas, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, and bears. There are other animals but this is where we spend the time during our visit. With children it took about 3 hours to see the exhibits...not including stopping for the extras.

I recommend going in the morning when they open. There is less of a crowd, the bathrooms are clean, and you will be ahead of the crowd.

1  Thank mh290362
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed September 13, 2011

My husband and I had always wanted to go to the Philadelphia Zoo. We just never made it there even though we lived in the city for years. Finally the other day we made it to the zoo. The Philadelphia Zoo is the oldest zoo in America. It is conveniently located just moments off I-76. There are a few pay lots to choose from or you can take your chance at the free street parking.

My husband and I arrived around 1pm. We used the self pay kiosks, which we found to be easy & fast (no waiting in line). It cost us $18 each to get admission to the zoo. Once at the entrance, we handed our tickets in & grabbed a zoo map. At first glance the zoo map looked a little confusing, but ended up being OK. The place was much bigger than I had expected & had a nice variety of animals. They also had LOTS of concession stands where you could purchase food & drinks. There were a few restrooms, but they seemed spread out so take note of them on the map before you start walking. The restroom that I used was clean. In addition to the animal exhibits, this zoo offers a few extra activities. They are an additional charge, but a nice addition to the zoo. They have a really nice kids carousel ($3) with various animals instead of just horses. They also have a kiddie train ($3), swan paddle boats ($6 per person), camel rides($6), pony rides ($6) & zoo balloon rides ($15 per person). We didn't pay to do any of the extra activities, but just know they are there.

As far as the actual animals go, I feel they have a pretty decent selection. Some of the animals that we saw included: LOTS of different types of monkeys, gorillas, orangutans, bats, ostrich, tortoise, prairie dogs, tigers, lions, leopards, jaguar, coati, bald eagles, cheetahs, camels, red pandas, river otters, giraffe, rhinoceros, hippopotamuses, zebras, gazelles, kangaroos, sloth, porcupine, various bears, polar bears, lemurs, flamingos, penguins, swans and various other birds. We also saw a nice collection of reptiles in the reptile house including snakes, frogs, lizards, spiders and alligators. The small mammal house was also very nice and showcased animals like the meerkat, hedgehog, striped weasel, squirrels and aardvarks. In addition, there was a small children's zoo within the zoo. Here they had a cow, chickens, sheep, rabbits, ponies & backyard bugs. There was also a small pond area here where you could feed ducks & geese. There were hand washing stations for the kids to wash their hands after petting some of the animals.

Overall we enjoyed our visit with the Philadelphia Zoo. We spent 4 hours here & had a great time. We got to see everything we wanted to see. We did not watch the movie offered by Big Cat Falls, eat lunch here, visit the gift shop or do any of the extra pay activities. So, you could easily spend more than 4 hours here! We found the zoo to be clean and well landscaped. There were several places to grab a seat & some of them were even shady. The zoo staff mostly kept to themselves, however, there was a really friendly zoo employee in the children's zoo area. She introduced us to Jambalaya--one of their special chickens. The animals all seemed well cared for & healthy. The selection of animals was large enough to keep your interest. There were even some animals that I had never seen at other zoos. The only large animals missing here would probably be elephants, walrus, sea lions & dolphins. It would be nice to see more water animals at this zoo. The only other downside I saw regarding the animals was that lemur island was hard to view from the main pathways. I wish they were easier to view without having to rent a paddleboat. The hours of operation seemed fair, however, the zoo seems to have a pretty strict closing time. The zoo closed at 5pm the day we went, but we noticed some exhibits were closed up or closing up at 4:30pm. We especially noticed that the kiddie train, childrens zoo & camel rides were all pretty much closed by 4:30pm. So plan to visit those attractions earlier in the day IF you want to include them in your visit. Overall, I feel it is a really nice zoo for the price. We would recommend it & will definitely visit it again in the future.

TIP: Outside food & drink (no alcoholic beverages) are permitted in the zoo. To save money, pack a cooler & enjoy your lunch at one of the picnic areas within the park!

2  Thank daisyferret1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 27, 2011

This is a typical zoo that has a nice variety of animals. Definitely check out your schedule because we seem to always walk up to areas that had not yet opened for the day. My kids love the Lorikeet Encounter where they could feed the birds while the birds perched on their arms.

Thank crlacey80
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 22, 2011

First: I'm from the DC area and got use to things being FREE........NOT the case here! For whhat you pay for it's not really interesting. There are 2 things that stick in my mind.....The floating Flamingo Paddle Boats & the Huge Hot Air Balloon. That's about it! I'm not to eager to go back. Go at your own risk........

1  Thank rcbjr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 18, 2011

This is a great zoo for what it is. It's not a destination zoo, like the Bronx or San Diego Zoos, simply because of its limited size. But they use the space they have very efficiently. It has a very nice feel to it - it is clean and has been updated over the years. They are in the middle of creating a brand new childrens zoo, which i think will be finished in 2012.

The things you have to pay extra for are reasonably priced, in my opinion. $6 for horse, pony, or camel rides. $6 per person for swan/paddle boats, $3 for carousel, about $20 to go up in the "zoo balloon".

The big cats exhibit (which i think is relatively new) is great - they provided for a more natural environment for the animals, while still making them reasonably easy to view. the monkey and reptile houses are very nice as well. Some of the facilities for the large animals are still somewhat small and outdated (ie. giraffes, rino). They got rid of the elephants, which was probably a good idea since they really don't have space to keep them in a humane way. But for the most part, what they do have is done very nicely.

A couple of tips - If you are go more than once a the year, get a membership (approx $100 for a family), which comes with free parking. Also, bring your own food. The food they sell your typical low-quality, over-priced Aramark fare (hot dogs, hamburgers, pizz), and long lines develop for the priviledge of being ripped off. There are many places where you can sit to eat a picnic lunch - it will be better and cheaper than what you could buy at the zoo.

Thank AngusNJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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