Pros:new exhibits, educational but fun, multitude of animals
Cons:not a lot of space for growth
The Bottom Line: With general admission only $6.00 and cheaper than some movie tickets, the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium offers both entertainment and education.
It’s not just lions and tigers and bears
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anymore. Although the Pittsburgh Zoo houses these
standard beasts, the zoo gives visitors a chance to
gander at animals ranging from a Komodo Dragon
(the largest living species of lizard) to Mandrill
monkeys (the model for Rafiki from Walt Disney’s
Lion King). Although Pittsburgh does not have San
Diego’s plethora of animals nor Ohio’s The Wilds’
immense stretches of land, renovations keep the zoo
up-to-date and noteworthy.
Just last year, the zoo debuted its new
aquarium. Despite a delayed opening and the deaths
of some fish, the remodeled building revamped the
old displays. No longer do fish swim in uniform
rectangular tanks with a only handful of sea
anemones and plants to add color. Now, the tanks
are situated low to the ground, allowing young
children to peer into them without requiring the aid
of their parents’ groaning muscles. Also, the new
tubs have more scenery, capturing the fishes’ natural
habitats. The old circular shark tank has become an
impressive wall stretching from the top level to the
bottom. Other animals range from sea horses to
penguins to an Amazon dolphin.
Another relatively new edition to the zoo is
Kid’s Kingdom. With a walkway mimicking ones in
rain forests, the Kid’s Kingdom incorporates wildlife
with education and fun. For example, not only can
children watch river otters frolic and slip down
chutes, but the kids can slide down huge-tube
shaped slides. In another activity, they can crawl
through tunnels underneath the meerkat exhibit
(Timon from Lion King was a meerkat). Just as
meerkats poke their heads from their burrows,
children can stand up in vertical tubes with only
plastic bubbles separating them from the meerkats.
Adults enjoy this section too. Visitors can
walk through the deer and kangaroo exhibits under
the watchful eyes of zoo keepers. If the animals are
near the path, visitors may pet them. Other
attractions include a camel, llama, sea lions, and
naked mole rats.
But new sections are not the zoo’s only new
arrivals. Among the zoo’s success stories include
two baby elephants along with triplet baby leopards,
all born in the past two years.
Other houses include the Niches of the
World (which exhibits boa constrictors, tree
kangaroos, Gila Monsters and more) and the
monkey house (which houses gorillas, orangutans,
gibbons, etc). Examples of other outdoor animals
include ostriches, zebras, giraffes and snow
For a family with small children, a hot
summer’s day is the best time to view the zoo.
Although slightly crowded, the warmth and chatter
of excited voices create a very adventurous
Adults and teenagers may want to brave cold
winter mornings during their visits. Quiet and
uncrowded, these times allow animal lovers to
become truly integrated with the zoo. Instead of
being hustled along by groups, people have more of
an opportunity to watch the animals and their antics.
From Dec. 1 to March 31, general admission
costs $6.00. The cost for seniors is $5.00; children
2-14, $4.00. The price, less than some movie
tickets, is well worth the wealth of animals at the