Natural history is alive and well in Pennsylvania, with the state boasting a wide array of zoos and wildlife parks. Zoos in the state range from general wildlife parks that offer exotic animals from around the world to sanctuaries that showcase U.S. animals or specialize in just one type of creature. Throughout Pennsylvania, these zoos offer informative experiences to their visitors.
The main zoo found in northwestern Pennsylvania is Erie Zoo, which is located in the city of Erie on a 15 acre plot south of downtown. The zoo is home to around 100 exotic animal species, some of which are critically endangered, such as the Amur tiger and Amur leopard. Just over 56 miles south, in Jamestown, is Pymatuning Deer Park, a family-owned zoo that has been in operation since 1953. It boasts around 250 animals with species such as Siberian tigers, lions and black bears.
Pittsburgh Zoo is one of the state's main zoos, and is located just a few miles east of the city's downtown. It offers a wide range of animals, including African elephants, rhinos and komodo dragons as well as rare big cats like Amur tigers and leopards. This zoo also has an extensive aquarium that showcases an array of fish and aquatic birds including king and gentoo penguins. Just over a mile north of the city is the National Aviary, which is home to around 600 birds from around the world. Penguins, parrots waterfowl and birds of prey are all well represented at the venue.
Many of the main zoos are found in the eastern portion of the state. Philadelphia Zoo has the distinction of being America's first, and therefore oldest, zoo. It opened in 1874 with 813 animals and has grown today to have more than 1,300 animals from around 300 species. Around 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia in Norristown is Elmwood Park Zoo. It opened in 1924 and specializes mostly in North American species such as alligators, wolves, bison and bald eagles. Just 15 miles north of Lancaster is the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania. It is a 22-acre, family-run sanctuary for 40 wolves which accepts visitors to help pay to care for the animals.
Just 11 miles south of Williamsport, in central Pennsylvania, is Clyde Pelling's Reptiland. The zoo specializes in reptiles, as its name suggests. Species from around the world are showcased, including deadly cobras and mambas. The venue utilizes its animals in informative, educational shows which run frequently throughout each day. Penn's Cave is a wildlife park in Centre Hall, 56 miles southwest of Williamsport. It offers two guided tours: one of the park's natural cave formations and another which showcases North American animals. Elk, bobcats, mustangs and wolves are all among the animals found on the 90-minute, motorized tours.
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