It’s going to be an exciting year at America’s first zoo.
This spring and summer, the Philadelphia Zoo offers guests a chance to go on a “gazillion-piece adventure,” welcome the return of a beloved zoo accessory (cue the nostalgia!) and hang out in a new open-air food-and-drink space designed by the folks behind Spruce Street Harbor Park.
- New exhibition Creatures of Habitat is open through September 30 at the Philadelphia Zoo.
- The exhibit features more than 30 life-size LEGO sculptures of animals.
- Visitors can use a Zoo Key to access stories about their favorite creatures.
- The Urban Green is a new open-air dining space featuring three food trucks, a play area and more.
That’s all in addition to what the zoo does best: offering guests the chance to hang out with nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered.
Read on for a guide what’s new at the zoo for 2019.
In the zoo’s new exhibition, Creatures of Habitat: A Gazillion-Piece Animal Adventure, zoo-goers check out more than 30 life-size LEGO versions of animals, including a 500-pound polar bear, a Bornean orangutan, golden lion tamarins and more.
The sculptures, on view now through September 30, highlight the danger of extinction that the depicted animals face and tell the stories of those working to protect and care for them.
Artist Sean Kenney used 350,000 (!) LEGOs to create the works, which double as an opportunity for guests to learn about the lives of animals on the island of Guam, in the African savannas and in the rainforest of Brazil — all without leaving the Philadelphia Zoo.
Twelve exhibit spaces show visitors how zookeepers care for the animals at the zoo, and what wildlife conservationists are doing to protect these species from issues like deforestation, global warming and plastic in the ocean.
Longtime Philadelphia Zoo fans and new visitors alike are in for another special treat for 2019: the return of the popular Zoo Key after more than a decade.
The animal-shaped keys — which are available for $3 each at any retail area in the zoo — let visitors unlock audio storybooks at 21 exhibit stations around the zoo.
The storybooks play insider stories about the animals that call the zoo home straight from the people who care for them.
For example, at the harlequin frog exhibit, guests turn a Zoo Key at the audio storybook to learn how Philadelphia Zoo amphibian conservationist Carlos C. Martinez Rivera works to save the species.
And at the polar bear exhibit, visitors learn how one local school decreased its energy usage by more than 70% to save wildlife from climate change.
One final and very important note: The old Zoo Keys will work with the new audio storybooks.
Those who work up an appetite exploring the zoo have new food and beverage options that have arrived just in time for warmer weather.
The Urban Green, an outdoor 200-person-capacity food and drink area that opens on Saturday, April 6, features three food trucks, a play area and a vertical farm that produces food for the zoo’s animals.
The space was designed by Groundswell, the team behind some of Philly’s great outdoor spaces, including the super-popular Spruce Street Harbor Park.
The three food trucks provide vegetarian-based fare, fried favorites, and paninis and wraps. Menu items include roasted beet hummus, loaded french fry bowls, pressed sandwiches, craft beers and a selection of wines.
The Urban Green is open seven days a week. Note that admission to the zoo is required to access the space.
Get to the zoo this season and don’t miss your chance to hang with both real (and LEGO) animals and munch on some delicious food. Happy exploring!