A Little Time and a Keyboard: An Afternoon With the Animals of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

An Afternoon With the Animals of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

Friday, April 8, 2016

Lions relax at the Pittsburgh Zoo

One of our afternoons in Pittsburgh was glorious, sunny and 70! A picture perfect day! We headed for the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium to take a peek and visit with our furry friends who we were sure were also enjoying the lovely spring weather!

Steep escalator at the Pittsburgh Zoo
Steep escalator up!
The zoo is located on top of a hill, so you have to take a pretty interesting escalator up to the exhibits. I have to say, the escalator is probably the steepest we have been on. I am sure plenty of kids love this novelty. What a way to embark on an adventure!

Lions relaxing at the Pittsburgh Zoo on a nice day
Lions taking a break!
The decision to visit on such a nice weather day was wise! Many of the big cats were out and about. For some reason, I seem to always miss them. So, seeing them was a treat! We even heard the lions roar!

Ostrich at the Pittsburgh Zoo.
Well, hello!
We really loved that the enclosures provided many vantage points. Honestly, I can't recall a zoo that has more spots to view animals from. This part is well done. Some enclosures seem well-sized, others I would love to see have more room! They are working on some renovations including changing the bear exhibit so it will be interesting to see the changes.

Public Works Project at the Pittsburgh Zoo

The Pittsburgh Zoo was originally founded in 1897 as the Highland Park Zoo, so it has been around awhile! The original bear enclosures were built in 1937 as part of the Public Works Project. Quite an interesting tidbit of history!

Tropical Rainforest home for primates at the Pittsburgh Zoo
The Tropical Rainforest is home for the primates!
The primates are housed within the Tropical Rainforest. The building houses a 5-acre indoor rainforest which is a nice touch. I liked this aspect of the primate exhibit because many of the primate houses that I have experienced before have been quite dimly lit. So, having green foliage year round is an improvement!

learning about zoo animals at a touchscreen learning station at the Pittsburgh Zoo
Learning about zoo residents.
Throughout the zoo, we found various learning stations where children learn about resident animals. I like that many of them focused on the particular resident animals of the zoo including their names!

Conservatory houses aquarium exhibits at Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium
Several of the aquarium's exhibits are housed within a conservatory.
Our favorite part of the zoo is the PPG Aquarium. A large section of the aquarium is dedicated to a conservatory with aquatic exhibits. Very nice! Overall, we felt that the aquarium had plenty of space to move around and enjoy the exhibits. We did not seem to encounter the congestion that we have at other aquariums. Plus, who doesn't fall in love with seahorses?

Fish at the PPG Aquarium
Here come the fish!
Seahorses at PPG Aquarium in Pittsburgh
The magic of seahorses!
Just outside of the aquarium is Water's Edge where we saw sea lions frolicking and basking in the warm day. Polar bears are normally in this area but they were not out during our visit.

Sea Lions swimming at Pittsburgh Zoo

Our daughter was getting pretty tired by the time we hit Kids Kingdom, so we did not get to fully explore the area. However, it does have a large play area with ropes and slides. Kids definitely have a ball in this area! Kids Kingdom also features animals native to Pennsylvania and a petting zoo.

Overall Impressions:

We really, really enjoyed the aquarium! We loved that the zoo is an continuous loop with few offshoots. In some zoos, we feel that we are always missing something because there are so many branches. Of course, the feeling is true! We do wish the enclosures were larger but the zoo is involved in some wonderful conservation efforts caring for and rehabilitating endangered turtles so they can be released back into the wild. The zoo and aquarium take a couple hours to walk through if you are taking the time to observe as well as read about the exhibits.

To know:

  • There are multiple options for eating but we did not feel constantly bombarded by food options.
  • Restrooms were readily available.
  • We did find stations to fill up our own water bottles, so be on the lookout for those.
  • There are plenty of different vantage points to view most of the animals. Definitely take advantage of these to gain a new perspective.
  • Don't forget the play area at Kid's Kingdom! Sometimes, kids need a little time to engage in play and explore after taking some time to observe the animals!
  • You have to walk a bit uphill during portions of the zoo, but it is not unmanageable.
Thank you to Visit Pittsburgh for facilitating this review! Complimentary admission was received. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

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