Philadelphia, PA - The pride of the Philadelphia Zoo, First Niagra Big Cat Falls, home to felines from around the world, opened in 2006. The lush exhibition features waterfalls, pools, authentic plantings and a simulated research station for aspiring zoologists. Lions, leopards, jaguars, pumas and tigers are the star attractions.
Meander through a naturalistic habitat at our First Niagara Big Cat Falls area. This Zoo experience creates a stunning landscape of lush habitats and waterfalls where guests can come face to face with endangered big cats from around the world, including snow leopards, amur leopards, pumas, lions, amur tigers and jaguars.
One group of cats are able to roam their exhibit area and another cat's habitat, too! Being able to smell and explore a space where another cat has lived provides excellent behavioral enrichment, stimulating the senses of the temporary residents. This situation also mimics the behavior of wild cats, who live in a core range surrounded by outlying areas they roam less frequently. Most of the cats in Big Cat Falls are native to areas where it gets very cold, but even lions and jaguars can tolerate cold weather, so to make them even more comfortable, we've provided "hot rocks," areas of artificial rockwork that stay warm throughout the year.
The Zoo 360 system of overhead tunnels allows the cats to move from one exhibit to another. Who knows, you may even see an Amur leopard high above the visitor walkway, watching you!
About the Zoo
The Philadelphia Zoo, located in the Centennial District of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the west bank of the Schuylkill River, was the first zoo in the United States. Chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on March 21, 1859, its opening was delayed by the American Civil War until July 1, 1874. It opened with 1,000 animals and an admission price of 25 cents. For a brief time, the zoo also housed animals brought over from safari on behalf of the Smithsonian Institution, which had not yet built the National Zoo in the 1850s.
The Philadelphia Zoo is one of the premier zoos in the world for breeding animals that have been found difficult to breed in captivity. The zoo also works with many groups around the world to protect the natural habitats of the animals in their care.
The zoo is 42 acres (17 ha) and is home to more than 1,300 animals, many of which are rare and endangered. The zoo features a children's zoo, a paddleboat lake, a rainforest themed carousel, and many interactive and educational exhibits.