Pittsburgh Zoo: Where the Wild Things Are!

Elephants at the Pittsburgh Zoo

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium tries to help us understand the animals of our planet and to teach us that our shared planet remains a suitable home for all life by demonstrating the interconnectedness of the natural world. The zoo exhibits more than 4,000 animals from 475 species, including 20 threatened or endangered species.

My favorite time to visit a zoo is in cooler weather. The animals are typically more active. Indeed. During our visit, we watched several pairs of animals get it on, so to speak. It was fun watching the horrified parents whisk their kids away…

We enjoyed getting to see all the usual suspects at a zoological park: elephants, zebras, tigers and lions. But we also enjoyed watching the sea lions swirl around their pool, a beaver gnaw at a tree branch and a playful otter romp around its pool.

Zoo History

The Pittsburgh Zoo opened in June 1898, as the Highland Park Zoo, a menagerie-style with quite constricting cages. We have Christopher Lyman Magee to thank. He donated $125,000 to build a zoological garden in Pittsburgh’s Highland Park neighborhood.

When the AquaZoo opened in 1967, it was the only public aquarium in Pennsylvania and the second largest aquarium in the country. Even now, this zoological park offers the rare combination of zoo and aquarium.

Now the zoo focuses on conservation and creating more naturalistic enclosures for the animals it cares for.

Asian Lantern Festival at the Zoo

We just happened to go during the Asian Lantern Festival. The more than 50 massive silk and steel handcrafted sculptures lined the pathways of the zoo. We were there during the day — they would have been even more lovely at night.

If you go during the fall festival, you can expect to see dinosaurs, endangered species, and cultural elements, such as the Chinese horoscope calendar animals and other aspects of Chinese culture.  

The lanterns will highlight Asian culture and history while also featuring endangered and extinct animals, including dinosaurs!

To get yourself in the mood for your visit to the zoo, check out the Cheetah Webcam and the Penguin Webcam!

Know Before You Go

We took about 3 hours to walk around the Zoo. If you want to take your time, I’d give it 5 hours and plan on eating. For those who have need, you may rent a scooter or wheel chair in advance. There are lots of hills, so take your time and enjoy the animals while you catch your breath!

Overall, I quite enjoyed this daytrip. The layout works well because it is just a huge loop that allows you to see everything as you progress along the main pathway. The only exhibit I didn’t really enjoy was the rainforest/primate house. The rest of the exhibits were well done, and it was reasonably easy to see all the animals.

Getting there: 7370 Baker St, Pittsburgh, PA 
Hours: November 1 – March 31, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.; April 1 – October 31, 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Website: PittsburghZoo & PPG Aquarium

Check out other zoos and animal-focused daytrips in the articles below:

There’s lots to see and do in Pittsburgh! Check out these articles for great daytripping ideas!