The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is one of the most visited family attractions in the city. We’ve frequented the aquarium many times over the year during private events, but it wasn’t until recently that we were able to visit the zoo and aquarium during normal operations.
Animals at the Pittsburgh Zoo
The Pittsburgh zoo features several themed regions that can be explored on a linear walking path, so visitors do not need to worry about missing any exhibit from taking a wrong path.
The first exhibits include big game animals such as lions, leopards, and flamingos as well as a small exhibit for Asian animals including the adorable red panda and massive Komodo dragon.
The park quickly opens up into an African savannah that features rhinos, elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, and many species antelope living in their own environments.
After visiting Africa you have the opportunity to visit a primate center in an indoors facility that is temperature and humidity controlled. Inside lives various species of monkeys, orangutans, lemurs, sloths, and gorillas (which also have access to an outdoor area for more movement).
The zoo continues into The Islands exhibit which opened in 2015 and features endangered animals such as the Galapagos tortoise, a clouded leopard, warty pigs, and more. After you finish exploring this section of the zoo you have one last chance to experience the African kingdom from a different angle before heading up a small hill to the entrance of the aquarium.
Animals at Pittsburgh’s PPG Aquarium
After exploring the zoo, you come to the entrance of the aquarium. This multi-floor aquarium is home to several dozen installations featuring aquatic species ranging from the standard fish, starfish, penguins to the unusual salamanders, jellyfish, and reef sharks. The exhibit begins with smaller installations of just a few species each, and then opens up into a multi-level atrium featuring a large tank with many different species co-existing in one common environment.
The aquarium continues outside with larger exhibits for otters, sea lions, sharks, and the stars of the park- the polar bears. These polar bears live in a rather large facility that has been re-designed and improved upon significantly over the years. The current iteration features an above water area as well as a large swimming area complete with underwater walkway for visitors where, if you are lucky, you can witness the polar bears playing while staying completely dry below.
As the aquarium segment ends the final exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo is an indoor reptile and nocturnal exhibit featuring rattlesnakes, spiders, naked mole rats, and a rather large bat exhibit- not for the faint of heart.
Overall, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium in Pittsburgh is a popular attraction for families and can be enjoyed with a minimum of two hours although may last much longer if you are interested in reading every description of every animal or attend the daily shows and feedings that are scheduled throughout the week.
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is located at 7340 Butler Street in Highland Park.
Looking for more family friendly attractions in Pittsburgh? Check out the National Aviary, the Science Center (article is from 21+ night, however), or for those with older kids the Heinz History Center!
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