Now that spring is officially here, it is time to come out of hibernation and take advantage of the great outdoors. The Philadelphia Zoo has several exhibits that open in April and continue until the end of summer.
“Cobras!” is one of the zoo’s main attractions and is located in the Reptile and Amphibian House. In this exhibit you will see a wide variety of snakes from the 6 foot viper, Africa’s largest venomous snake, to the red cobra, who can spit poison up to 12 feet away.
Be sure to check out Starfire, the 25-year-old king cobra who exceeds the longevity record for a cobra by one and a half years. The world’s two largest snakes, the python and anaconda are also available for viewing. Aside from the snakes you can also check out bullfrogs, lizards, crocodiles and large tortoises.
If serpents make you shiver then a trip to the Birdhouse may be more suitable. The Birdhouse is an indoor rainforest that houses some of the worlds most beautiful and rare birds. Inside you will find fruit doves, woodpeckers, starlings and sunbirds.
The victorian crowned pigeon of New Guinea is a must-see. During courtship rituals, the male species bows its head and spreads open a beautiful blue crest that resembles a peacock’s tail.
For those who want to view birds outdoors, check out the Birds of Australia exhibit where you can get up, close and personal with colorful parakeets, lorikeets, parrots and lories. These tropical birds will fly right up to you, allowing you to feed them or just stare in amazement.
Put on a good pair of walking shoes and visit the animals of the jungle. Along the African Plains you will see rhinoceros, zebra, giraffe and gazelles. Once you are tired of the jungle, head into Carnivore Kingdom and view the cute and cuddly red pandas perched on a tree branch. If you are not into cute or cuddly animals, maybe the leopards, cheetahs and jaguars will be more to your liking.
The Camel Safari opens in May and visitors have the opportunity to take a guided tour of the African Outpost while riding on one of these creatures. While the camels do not arrive until May you can opt to take a Horseback or Pony ride instead. If you’d rather not saddle-up, you can leave the land and head to sea at Swan Lake Valley and take a ride in a huge Victorian swan paddleboat that seats 1 to 3 people.
If neither land nor sea can tame you, hop aboard the Channel 6 Zooballoon, which reaches a height of 400 feet, and explore the entire zoo as well as surrounding Fairmount Park and the Philadelphia skyline.
Zoo employees are available to answer any questions you may have. Information is also listed on each animal to educate visitors about things such as animals’ eating habits, natural habitat and origin. Most indoor exhibits have employees or zookeepers who participate in hands-on activities with the visitors such as animal feedings, petting or demonstrations.
With all the variety of exhibits to visit and animals to choose from, you are sure to find something that sparks your interest. So grab a group of friends and make it a day trip. But remember, no trip to the zoo is complete without visiting the conventional lions, tigers, bears and monkeys.
The Philadelphia Zoo is located at 34th Street and Girard Avenue and is accessible by I-76 and Septa routes 15 and 32. It is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. General Admission is $15.95 for adults, $12.95 for children, and is free for babies under 2-years- old. For more information call 215-243-1100 or visit www.philadelphiazoo.org.
Danean Nixon can be reached at Danean.Nixon@radian.biz