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The Philadelphia Zoo

By Caleb Sanders

Samuel L. Jackson is right.

He wasn’t kidding when he expressed concern for the slithering intruders in the film Snakes on a Plane. Some of the deadliest animals in the world are snakes, and the Philadelphia Zoo boasts a fine collection.

With an impressive exhibit that features snakes from all over the world, the Philly Zoo could have easily supplied the creatures for that movie. Many of the snakes are extremely venomous and are capable of killing a human being with one bite.

One of the highlights was a display featuring two large green anacondas.

This is world’s largest snake that can reach up to 33 feet in length and over 300 lbs. in weight. This predator lurks in the Amazon and feasts on large waterfowl and monkeys.

Another exhibit also features the king cobra, one of the world’s deadliest snakes.

Even though it is very venomous, the skin and blood can be used to heal people from certain ailments. However, it is illegal to keep venomous reptiles in Philly, so don’t think about ordering one for the dorm room.

With many other snakes like the western diamond back rattlesnake and the emerald tree boa, Philly seems to have one of the best collections of snakes on the East Coast, but in cages not planes.

The big cats

By Jessica Czop

Lions and tigers and…. cats? Oh my!

The Philadelphia Zoo’s Bank of America Big Cat Falls is certainly full of them, plus other big cats, like pumas, Amur leopards, snow leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, tigers and cheetahs.

This 1.7 acre exhibit, opened May 25, 2005, cost an astounding $20 million.

The exhibit itself has very realistic-looking habitats that are reminiscent of the natural terrains in which these cats live in the wild. For example, the lion exhibit looks remarkably like the savannah in Africa.

Inside the exhibit is the Big Cat Theater, which shows videos of the cats’ behavior in the wild, and the Learning Center, complete with computer games and donation centers.

In the computer game, the player is a jaguar in the wild and has to survive the predators, hunters, draughts, etc in a journey from Mexico to Arizona.

The donation center is a large TV-like computer. Patrons can insert a dollar into the machine and buy a square foot of jaguar habitat to preserve their natural habitats scattered throughout North America.

The most exciting portion of the exhibit is the literal cat walk that stretches across the exhibit.

High above viewer’s heads and well protected, the passage system gives the cats an opportunity to romp from habitat to habitat. There are no words to describe the feeling of looking up into the eyes of a tiger.

How we did

By Petra Eldridge

Whether you like to watch Galapagos tortoises lie in the sun or see monkeys spring about a primate reserve, there is something interesting to see at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Birds flit across your path at the Bird House. Otters playfully swim about in view of onlookers. Polar bears yawn in the sun. Visit the reptile and amphibian house and see the king cobra. Eat lunch in the picnic areas and watch pigeons and peacocks. Take pictures with one of the many animal sculptures along the paths. Compare the African elephant to the elephant-nosed shrew and study the bizarre okapi.

Pick up a free map at the door and spend the day exploring. A trip to the zoo can be fun and educational, if not a little expensive. Be sure to bring friends to split the cost of parking, $10, and bring lunch and your own water-bottled water sells at $2.50 a bottle. An adult ticket is $16.50. On a budget of $20 each, that leaves you with about $.50 to use on standing binoculars. Take time to study the information placards, displays and interactive sites ,and pick up a map at the entrance.

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