Philadelphia Zoo

3400 West Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

(215) 243-1100

Status: Native Burial Ground; “America’s First Zoo”

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History

This is the first true zoo in the United States.

It was chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on March 21, 1859 however it’s actual creation was delayed by the onset of the US Civil War.

The zoo eventually opened on July 1, 1874 with 1,000 animals and an admission price of 25 cents ($6.89 in 2024). The actual current admission to the zoo in 2024 is between $20 - $29.

Today, the zoo is home to over 1,300 animals and a premier facility for breeding animals that are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity. Many of the zoo’s animals are listed as endangered and the zoo is well known for working with other groups to ensure the protection of these animal’s natural habitats on the planet.

The zoo is 42 acres (17 hectares) and contains a children’s petting zoo, a carousel, a paddle boat lake and is full of interactive exhibits designed to educate.

It is also built on an indigenous burial ground.

 

Paranormal Activity

There is a building on the zoo grounds – used for offices - called the Penn House (Solitude House). It was built in 1874 for John Penn – grandson of William Penn – as a place to live within the city but away it’s hustle and chaos.

The light in the attic of the house will sometimes turn itself on. The phantom sound of music is also heard in the house.

The apparition of a woman in a long dress is seen at the top of the stairs in the Penn House watching people as the enter the house. Disembodied voices are also heard in the house as well as phantom footsteps.

One employee reported having her hair pulled by an unseen entity.

Apparitions are seen through the zoo, but they are most commonly reported in the Penn House, the Penrose Building and the Shelby Building.

In the Shelby Building there are reports of a ghostly face looking in the windows in the lobby.

In Penrose the ghost of woman has been seen in the library. There are reports of poltergeist activity in the building.

People have seen objects move on their own and heard unexplained noises in the Treehouse Building.

Throughout the zoo there are reports of disembodied voices; electrical disturbances; phantom footsteps; cold spots; doors open and closing on their own and feelings of being watched.