The Philadelphia Zoo was the nation's first zoological park, and continues to operate as a scientific and cultural center today.

Illustration courtesy the Library of Congress
  • On March 21, 1859, the first zoological society in the United States was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The society was formed so its members could open the Philadelphia Zoo, which became the first zoo in the United States. Even though both the zoo and the animals that lived in it started arriving in 1859, the Civil War forced the zoological society to postpone the zoo’s opening until July 1874. When it opened, there were bears, lions, birds, reptiles, fish, and more.

    The zoo helped people learn about animals, climates, and habitats in other countries and continents. Many people had never seen an elephant or a lion before seeing them in the zoo. Zoo visitors also learned how important it was to protect these animals from becoming extinct.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Civil War Noun

    (1860-1865) American conflict between the Union (north) and Confederacy (south).

    climate Noun

    all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.

    Encyclopedic Entry: climate
    continent Noun

    one of the seven main land masses on Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: continent
    habitat Noun

    environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

    Encyclopedic Entry: habitat
    zoo Noun

    place where animals are kept for exhibition.

    Encyclopedic Entry: zoo