Channel 6 ZooBalloon
Philadelphia Zoo officials today implemented a controlled release of the helium in the Channel 6 ZooBalloon. Due to unprecedented weather conditions throughout the winter especially last evening’s heavy snowfall, the balloon’s envelope has accumulated of five to ten tons of snow, which is equivalent to the weight of five hippos. The tremendous volume of snow has caused irreparable damage to the balloon, despite efforts to minimize its impact. In its current state, the snow cannot be safely removed from the balloon. To ensure safety and minimal damage, the Zoo took action to deflate the balloon based on the manufacturer’s recommendation.
The Channel 6 ZooBalloon has been an iconic part of the Philadelphia skyline since June 2002, when it was introduced as the only tethered helium balloon located in an American zoo. Since its first flight, approximately 419,000 Zoo guests have enjoyed this one-of-a-kind experience and unique Zoo attraction. This type of balloon’s life expectancy is in the five to seven year range, depending upon climate conditions. The inaugural balloon envelope lasted six years, and the current would have been flying for its seventh year this spring.
Due to these unexpected circumstances, the balloon will not take flight this year. 2014 was to be the final year the Channel 6 ZooBalloon would fly at Philadelphia Zoo. The Zoo, along with their partners at Channel 6, were preparing for farewell festivities and a final send-off celebration to take place after Labor Day 2014. Plans for an attraction to replace the balloon have not yet been confirmed.
“For more than a decade, the Channel 6 ZooBalloon has been a beacon for Philadelphia Zoo and a fixture in the city’s skyline,” says Dr. Andy Baker, Chief Operating Officer, Philadelphia Zoo. “We invite Zoo guests to share their fondest ZooBalloon memories via photos and video on our or 6abc Facebook pages to help us bid farewell to a beloved piece of Philadelphia Zoo history.”