The Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo is America's first Zoo. I was a docent there from September 1996 until July of 1999 and thought I would share some information and images of my zoo friends. Please feel free to email me at if you have any zoo related questions. I now volunteer with animal care at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston. I am working on getting pictures from that zoo too!

Lantar is a great tiger, and he loves to get your attention when goes swimming. The Siberian tiger is the largest cat, and they have the largest canines of any meat eating land mammals. The look of a tiger stalking is a rather awe inspiring sight.

Please meet Cindy. She is a very pretty (and chubby) hippo. Hippos are considered one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. If you can't imagine why, check out her teeth. Not only do they have impressive teeth to bite you with, they also have teeth that stick straight out, letting them jab you without the aid of hands.

The giraffe is one of thelargest, strongest and most peaceful animals on earth. A baby giraffe is born standing 6 feet tall and weighing over 100 pounds. And you thought 8 pounds was a big baby!

While the Douc Langur is one of the most beautiful primates they are not the most social. Because of their relatively low nutritional diet they need to spend most of their time foraging, and have little time for playing.

The Giant Anteater walks on its knuckles in order to protect their long claws which they use to rip open ant mounds. Their long sticky tongue helps them catch 30,000 ants per day.

Polar bears are not actually white. Their hairs are hollow transparent tubes, similar to a straw. The bears black skin attract the suns heat and her hair help trap the heat. The sunlight bouncing off these hairs is what gives a polar bear her color.

The elephant is the largest of all land mammals. An elephant's trunk is an amazing thing. It can lift up a single blade of grass, scratch an itch, or pull down a huge tree down. They can also be used as a snorkel, a shower spout, or to apply some sunscreen. (I know it looks like dirt, but I swear it works like sunscreen! The trunk has no bones and 40,000 muscles. Feel free to get a closer look at our Asian elephant.

Nicholas is a wonderful sloth bear. If you look at his lip you will see that it is very flexible. He uses this to create groove to help him suck up termites. Hate getting termites up your nose? Not a problem for a sloth bear, they just close their nose flaps and they keep there dinner out of their nostrils!

Red Pandas like Sparkler, Maude and their new baby are probably the cutest animals on the planet. It was once thought to be related to the Giant Panda because of a similar bamboo diet and false ./pics/thumb adaptation. DNA testing reveled that the Red Panda is related to the raccoon, while the Giant Panda is more closely related to bear.

Giant River Otters can be found in Brazilian rivers. They are the largest, most vocal and rarest of otters. Banjo, and his younger brother Rio came to Philadelphia from a German Zoo. The Philly Zoo is currently the only zoo in the US to display this wonderful animals.

Merlin is a terribly handsome lion. Even though he is a tawny brown color, he is still considered to be a white lion because he possess the white gene. Some of the litters he has fathered have produced baby white lions. Currently there are no plans to breed more.

The cheetah is perfectly built for what it needs to do. Sheba has built in track shoes, the only cat with non-retractable claws, and sunglasses. Her tear-drop marking help reduce the suns glare. She is the fastest land mammal. However, speed has its price and she lacks stamina. If she doesn't catch you in the first 100 yards you are in the clear.

Ever wonder how to tell an alligator apart from a crocodile? It's all in the mouth. The crocodile exposes the 4th tooth in the lower jaw when his mouth is closed and gators do not, crocs have long narrow snouts and gators have broad snouts. Before we stop talking about these guys, you should check out Louie, the Ghost of the Bayou. He is an albino Croc that was rescued from the wild when he, and his brothers, were little babies. A white croc would never make it to adulthood in the wild.

The rainbow lorikeet is a seasonal visitor to the Philly Zoo. Each spring and summer you can enter their enclosure and offer them a cup of nector. There are usually around 70 birds in the enclosure so there is almost always someone who is hungry. Just be warned... What comes in, must come out!

A baby flamingo is amazingly cute. I swear, they get all the fat for their legs at birth and they just stretch! A flamingo chick is born white, and then gets grey downy feathers. They will turn at about 1 year

The Victorian Crowned Pigeon is the largest pigeon, averaging between 23 to 29 inches. These birds, from New Guinea, were once overhunted for food and lacy crowns. They are now protected by law.

The Humboldt Penguin can be very loud. They have a donkey like bray, that seems rather incongruous with their appearance. Despite what many people think, penguins are only found in the Southern hemisphere. These guys come from the Pacific coast of South America.

The Peacocks at the Philly Zoo are allowed to wonder around where ever they want. They are non-migratory birds and since they know where their food comes from have never left the zoo grounds. Don't be surprised to see a male with his tail feathers up holding up traffic the next time you come to the zoo in the spring.

All images Copyright ©1998 Stacey Goldsmith