Growing up, being able to go to the National Zoo in Washington, DC was always a treat. It was the closest zoo to us and still roughly an hour and a half away from where I grew up. It was fascinating as a child to see all of these exotic animals that we only read about in stories. Bald eagles became my favorite birds throughout the years and I was obsessed with the panda bears. I remember actively trying to find my name on a mug or a magnet, but that never did happen. Fast forward to now being a parent and it’s one of my favorite places to take Skibbles too. Yesterday, we went there with some friends, and it was Pumpkin’s first time. Although, she’s only 5 months, so she just slept a lot of the time. Skibbles LOVESSS seeing all the animals. She gets so giddy and excited and admittedly more than once, she has tried to scale the fence to get into the giraffe area (can you blame her for trying?). While it’s hard to pick just five things, here’s our list of 5 things you MUST do before leaving the Philadelphia Zoo:
1- Hang out in the Peco Primate Preserve – Lemurs, Gorillas, Orangutans, Gibbons, and more – Oh my! This is one of our favorite exhibits in the entire park. There’s always lots of active primates, especially if the gibbons are out in the large outdoor area. There are a mom, dad, and two boy gibbons and the kids went crazy watching the run, swing, and flip over and over again. It’s always a special treat if you can get the gorillas or orangutans to come up to the window too. What’s best if that there’s always a keeper around they are full of so much information. I love hearing their stories.
2- Visit KidZooU – Amazingly, before yesterday we had never gone into this area in the three or four times I’ve taken Skibbles to the zoo. Never again will we miss the opportunities. There’s so many fun things for the kids to do up here and it includes a ton of educational materials to learn while they explore, but by far her very most favorite part was being able to sit and brush the goats.
3- First Niagara Big Cat Falls – Anytime you tell Skibbles we’re going to the zoo, she immediately says “LION SAYS ROARRRRRR”. So much to her surprise the first time we went and she was able to see baby lions running around, she was so excited. Anytime you can catch the tiger or jaguar walking past the window is always a great day too! There’s also something to be said about being insanely close (or so it seems) to a lion
4- Take a safari in the African Plains – Giraffes and Zebras and two of Skibbles favorite animals, so it’s no wonder this is one of her favorite places to stop. And yes — I really do swear that every time we go she tries to scale the fence to get over there with them, especially the giraffes. She also always calls the rhinoceros a hippopotamus which is hysterical to me.
5- Play in the treehouse. You have to have a membership to do this, but it’s such an awesome break. We usually stop in here about halfway through our trip for the day. It gives us adults a chance to sit down and let the kids run and play free while exploring and getting some energy out. It’s fascinating to them to see giant dinosaur eggs that they can crawl into, a ginormous bee hive they can come up, and best of all the actual tree house that you can climb all the way to the top.
We absolutely love this place and it’s one of the easiest places to get to in Philly. If you try to do everything in a day, you can definitely spend the entire day at the zoo. There’s a ton of open sitting areas, benches, and tables, so we love packing snacks and lunches and eating outside surrounded by the cool breeze and open air. We love going in the fall when there’s not a ton of crowds and the animals seem to love the chill a bit more as well.
Have you been? What’s your favorite part of the zoo?