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Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species.
Charles Dickens published A Tale of Two Cities.
The American oil industry was born in Titusville, Pennsylvania, when the first oil well was drilled.
London’s Big Ben rang for the first time.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania signed the charter establishing the Zoological Society of Philadelphia--the very first of its kind in this country.
Zoological Society of Philadelphia established
March 21, 1859
Philadelphia Zoo grand opening
July 1, 1874
First-of-its-kind animal health laboratory established at Zoo
Bird House opens
First successful birth of an orangutan in a U.S. zoo
Zoo wired for electricity
First successful birth of a chimpanzee in U.S. zoo
Leo, the MGM lion, retires to the Zoo after a 15-year movie career
Zoo develops first scientifically controlled diets, “zoocake”
First Children's Zoo in the western hemisphere opens
New Elephant House opens
Zoo discovered carrot juice diet helped flamingos retain pink color
Carnivora House opens
Bird Valley opens
First cheetahs born in a zoo
New Children's Zoo opens
Centennial of the Zoological Society of Philadelphia
Rare Mammal House opens (now Rare Animal Conservation Center)
Small Mammal House opens
Reptile House opens
Docent Council established
Centennial of Zoo Opening
July 1, 1974
Zoo becomes one of the first officially accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)
African Plains completed
Zoo education department established
“Rocky proposes to Adrian” in front of the Carnivora House
Bear Country opens
First successful birth of an echidna in North America
Naked mole-rat exhibit opens
Carnivore Kingdom opens
April 25, 1992
Newly renovated Amphibian and Reptile House opens
PECO Primate Reserve opens
6abc Zooballoon® launched
First successful birth of a giant river otter in North America
Newly renovated Children’s Zoo opens
Big Cat Falls opens
Big Cat Falls receives AZA Exhibit of the Year Award
Footprints, the Zoo’s carbon offset program launches
Amazon Rainforest Carousel opens
150th anniversary of the Zoo’s charter
March 21, 2009
McNeil Avian Center opens
May 30, 2009
Treetop Trails unveiled
Great Ape Trail opens
First births at KidZooU (two female Jacob sheep)
April 2, 2013
Centennial District Intermodal Transportation Center opens to the public
KidZooU opens to the public
April 13, 2013
KidZooU receives LEED Gold Certification.
December 17, 2013
The Zoo’s 150th anniversary started with Sesquicentennial Weekend March 21 and 22, 2009.
The weekend began with a special program led off by the US 3rd Colored Troop color guard. CEO Vik Dewan, Mayor Michael Nutter and many other elected officials addressed the audience, accompanied by songs from the Keystone Boychoir. Throughout the day, entertainment from Beck’s Brass Band, costumed storytellers and old-fashioned bicycles kept everyone in a Victorian mood.
Nearly 20,000 guests were treated to a Victorian Festival featuring storytellers in Victorian garb and entertainment from the Victorian Era including puppet shows, barbershop quartets, brass bands and more.
Our friends the Philadelphia Phillies brought the 2008 World Series Trophy to bring the party back to the present! Guests were lined up to see a new kind of history.
One of the highlights was a Birthday Cake Competition. Guests had a chance to eat the cakes cake and bring our animals presents. We tried to capture the excitement in photographs.
A fundraiser for the restoration of The Solitude, the home of John Penn, grandson of Philadelphia’s founder, William Penn.
On May 30, the Zoo’s new $17.5 million McNeil Avian Center opened to great reviews. The beautiful renovation of our 1916 birdhouse (pictured above) is an engaging blend of old and new, which ties in perfectly with our historic celebration.
As you age, in some world cultures, you give presents on your birthday rather than receive them. To celebrate that tradition, the Zoo created a program called Gifts of Gratitude. The goal of the program is to celebrate our anniversary with some of our most important stakeholders: our members and our community.
150 educational experiences for students in Camden, Chester-Upland and Philadelphia schools
Day at the Zoo for 60 community organizations
150 family memberships for 15 Community organizations
15 grants of $1,500 for local projects based on conservation and sustainability
150 Zoo-on-Wheels visits to community events and schools
Commemorative poster designed by a student from the Academy of the Fine Arts for our members
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