Philadelphia Zoo

About Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo’s 42-acre garden is home to more than 1,300 animals, many of them rare and endangered. By connecting people with wildlife, the Philadelphia Zoo creates joyful discovery and inspires action for animals and habitats. Cheetahs, hippos, giraffes and much more make the Zoo Philadelphia's leading family attraction with over 1.35 million visitors last year.

Like many other Philadelphia landmarks and institutions, the Philadelphia Zoo is an American first. The charter establishing the Zoological Society of Philadelphia was approved and signed on March 21, 1859. Due to the Civil War, however, it was another 15 years before America's first zoo was ready to open.

The Zoo opened its gates on July 1, 1874. The Frank Furness Victorian gates and gatehouses, and the Zoo's location, are the same today as they were on the day it opened. One of its assets, then and now, is John Penn's home, The Solitude, which sat on the land chosen for the Zoo. John Penn was the grandson of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. The Solitude is considered to be Philadelphia's most precise and elegant expression of neoclassical style.

On opening day, flags flew, and a brass band welcomed more than 3,000 visitors. Admission was 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children, a rate that held for the next half century. Visitors came on foot, on streetcars, by horse and carriage, and every 15 minutes by steamboat on the Schuylkill River, landing at the Zoo's own wharf. The Girard Avenue Bridge opened three days later.

Since the early 1700s, the idea of an American zoo was inspired by English settlers with a keen interest in wildlife and by sailors and hunters who returned from faraway lands with exotic animals they'd never seen before. People would gather and pay shillings to see animals such as lions and elephants displayed at places like general stores and museums. As a hub of scientific inquiry and discovery over many years, Philadelphia's well-known leaders of the time began to formulate the idea of a zoo. In the mid-1850's, a prominent Philadelphia physician, Dr. William Camac-the Zoo's founding father-became involved and led the way to making America's first zoo a reality.

In its first year of operation, the Philadelphia Zoo had 813 animals and received well over 228,000 visitors. Today, the Zoo has more than 1,300 rare and endangered animals, and its attendance is approximately 1.35 million visitors a year.


Environmental Education Intern

June 2018 - August 2018 Philadelphia, PA
“I was able to interact with the public and engage with them about animals and conservation. This was important to me because I wanted to improve my skills at public speaking and I enjoy connecting with people about the environmental issues I feel strongly about. ”

Animal Care Intern

May 2019 - August 2019 Philadelphia, PA
“The keepers I worked with were very nice and always made sure you felt included and gave jobs that weren’t just busywork. The animals were so wonderful and we learned so much about them, how to take care of them and how to handle them.”
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Questions & Answers

What would a work day look like for an animal care intern at the Philadelphia Zoo?

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What's it like being an Animal Care Intern at the Philadelphia Zoo?

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