KidZooU: Hamilton Family Children's Zoo and Faris Family Education Center
Set to Open Saturday, April 13
(January 30, 2013) – The wait is almost over. Home to America’s first children’s zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo today announced its new KidZooU: Hamilton Family Children’s Zoo & Faris Family Education Center will officially open to the public on Saturday April 13, 2013. The new children’s zoo is the organization’s largest construction project to date and will serve as a model for children’s zoos nationwide with its L.E.E.D. and universal design, making it both sustainable and accessible to special needs communities; its focus on domestic rare breed animals; and its use of an animal travel and exploration system that offers animals more room to roam.
“The opening of the new KidZooU is an extremely exciting development for us as we unite a world-view education center with an up-close and personal children’s zoo to form a new wildlife academy offering dynamic displays and hands-on learning experiences,” said Philadelphia Zoo President and CEO Vikram Dewan. “KidZooU is designed to appeal to both toddlers and tweens alike, and will be used as a platform to mentor the next generation of protectors of our planet.”
KidZooU will be a year-round destination with both indoor and outdoor features that offer a multitude of experiences for animals and guests. Indoors guests will marvel at a world teeming with coral reef fish, colorful parakeets, desert ants and other extraordinary animals. The indoor education center will also serve as a wildlife academy and host a variety of programs focusing on the theme Saving Energy to Save Wildlife, and will appeal to a wide age-range of visitors. To complement its robust programming, the education center will feature conservation stations and interactive exhibits that will engage and excite visitors about how saving energy and recycling can help save wildlife. Through its L.E.E.D. design, which includes geothermal wells for heating and cooling, rain gardens and green roofs, the Philadelphia Zoo is taking its commitment to conservation beyond the classroom by making it central to its daily operations as well.
The outdoor portion of KidZooU will brim with activity with its barnyard and stables where kids can pet and brush sheep; a 400-foot trail for rare goats to roam; as well as a goat bridge built above the KidZooU entrance where goats will walk overhead. While the goats scale their own supersize tower in the barnyard, children can climb a parallel structure and mimic their behavior.
KidZooU will also include a segment of the Zoo’s new animal travel and rotation system, which allows animals to move among different enclosures and play areas throughout certain parts of the Zoo. The existing Treetop Trail will extend toward KidZooU and enable primates to travel overhead through the trees. This is part of the Zoo’s transformational master plan in which it is developing the first campus-wide travel system for animals to move across the Zoo from one exhibit area to another.
Finally, The Philadelphia Zoo worked with experts from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Autism Research and the Overbrook School for the Blind, among others, to ensure the design of KidZooU is friendly to special needs communities. KidZooU will include braille, sign language and a picture exchange system for children on the autism spectrum.
“As we enter the final phase of construction, we are extremely energized about the public opening scheduled for this April. We are one of the nation’s premier zoos and we are eager to invite the world to visit KidZooU and experience all it has to offer,” said Mr. Dewan.