day trip

A trip to the Philadelphia Zoo

Over the past weekend we ending up exploring two different activities. We were part of a St. Patrick’s Day Parade and we also took a trip to the Philadelphia Zoo. Did you know that the Philadelphia Zoo is America’s first zoo. The opening of the zoo was delayed until July 1st, 1874 due to the Civil War. Since than it has been one of a few zoo’s to breed animals that are difficult to breed in captivity.

hard to see but two young gorillas

The zoo is not located far from center city area attractions like the Liberty Bell, Franklin Institute, Philadelphia Mint or the Philadelphia Art Museum. That makes it a great place to stop while visiting all the other area attractions.

We ended up arriving a little early, about 15 minutes before the zoo opened. That made getting some pictures at the sign much easier since there was no one else there. It wasn’t until about 30 minutes after the zoo open that it started to fill up a little bit. This was a Sunday in March and the temp this morning was a chilly 34 degrees.

Once 09:30 am rolled around and the gates opened. We went through bag checked. I ended up bring the amazon basics camera bag. It was a breeze to get through security and carried all of my cameras and lens. It was also able to hold a bottle of water and some goldfish.

Once you walk in the main entrance you are greeted by these two elephants. The zoo use to have an Elephant exhibit but the last two elephants were relocated in 2009. Having this statue is a nice tribute to the mighty elephants that once lived at the zoo.

As you pass the two elephants you will see a building on your right and a fountain on the left. On this day the fountain was off as you would think. On a cold day it’s nice to stop in the Rare Animal Conservation Center.

Inside you will find around 14 different animals. Anything from Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth, Bolivian gray titi monkey, Rodrigues fruit bat, and my daughters favorite animal in there , the Naked mole rats.

One thing to note while going in most of the building at the zoo, while the lighting inside is great for you to see. Your camera will have a hard time unless you bump up the ISO. It can also be a little smelly inside and I always get a little laugh since my daughter always makes a comment.

From the rare animals we head to the reptiles. Inside you will find a giant cobra statue. Along with many different species of frogs, snakes, lizards and turtles.

Make sure you check this place out during the warmer months too. In front of the building there is a large field where the Galapagos tortoise can be found. I am not sure how many they have but it is at least 7.

Next we heading to see the gorillas. This spot has to be my favorite area in the entire zoo. The animals here have to be the most active of them all. The two young ones are always putting on a show. My daughter was able to get a little video on Galaxy S4 phone.

My daughters video from a Galaxy S4.

In the warmer months you can find them out in the yard or walking around the Zoo360. If you get lucky sometimes the big one will be right up on the glass and will stare at you. Hard to get a photo with the reflections but still pretty neat to see.

Next stop was Big Cat Falls. This is were the Philadelphia zoo has there…. well big cats like the bobcat, lions, and tigers. On this day the 4 young lions were basking in the sun.

They were right up against the glass. It was almost like you could reach out and pet them. Of course I wouldn’t suggest that unless you don’t care about your hands much. They didn’t seem to mind all the people watching them today as that sun did feel warm.

With it getting to be around lunch time we stopped to get a quick bite. They do have a little indoor seating but forget about finding a spot in there in the summer. We grabbed some food and sat down for a nice meal of …. chicken tenders. Surprise, surprise my daughter wanted to get some chicken tenders and waffle fries. Probably like 90% of the other kids out there.

We then took a look around the small gift shop in the park. And boy do they have a lot of stuff animals. They also have some t-shirts and mugs and such. Wasn’t able to get any photos. Doesn’t seem like they really like you taking pictures of the merch.

Tiger Terrace the food stop

After a little browsing we walked down by the hippo (not out yet), giraffes (must be too cold or early), zebras and rhino.

We than made are way to the new penguin area. It replaced the old polar bear exhibit after they both died of old age. The few times I have been here so far it sure seems like they really are digging there new home.

After are visit to see the penguins we just walked around grabbing some photos of the different statues they have around the grounds of the zoo. It was nice that we got there early to enjoy low crowds and not many other people in our photos.

No matter where you live. In the big city or out in the country side. Chances are there is a zoo or wildlife preserve no more than an hour away. Zoo’s are are great way to practice your photography skills as well. You need to learn to adjust your settings from going inside to outside. Also trying to get the most natural looking photos.

Your kids will even love visiting the zoo. Bonus if you visit the Philly zoo. They have an area called kids zoo U. They have a little slide and climbing area along with a petting zoo. I can’t recommend this zoo enough. You will enjoy it. Your kids will enjoy it. And you might even get lucky and be one of the first to get a shot of a new baby animal.

Hippo eating her head (her idea)

If you are wondering what gear I used while I went to the zoo with affiliate links, here it is. A Cannon T7i, cannon 50mm 1.8 lens, amazon basic camera bag, Nikon D3200 with 70-200 kit lens, Galaxy S4 and S8. I think what is important to note here is that the gear I own is not the best out there. And that’s the point. While none of these images are knocking it out the park they are decent images. Both cameras I own are low end models.

The most important lesson to take away from this other than spend some time outdoors with your kids enjoying the beautiful planet. Your camera and gear doesn’t fully matter. If you can get a good story with your photo the rest will come in time.

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