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— guest contributor —

polarbearWhen my wife I and trade Memorial Day plans with our friends, many are hesitant and skeptical about joining us at the Philadelphia Zoo. Too far is often the response we hear when we invite others to join us. So, this blog entry is intended to review some of the advantages as a Kosher travel destination.

Now, its understandable that my wife has an affinity to the Philadelphia Zoo because she grew up there. She identifies herself primarily as a Pennsylvanian reluctantly living in New Jersey. Nevertheless, the country’s oldest operating zoo has an undeniable charm to it, even to someone like me – a New Jersey native, with no personal bias to Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Zoo features a large, 42 acre property and claims to be home to more than 1,300 animals, many of which are rare and endangered species. Some species, like our friend the Rhino, was bred and born there since breeding is one of the Philadelphia Zoo’s specialties.

The recently completed children’s zoo features a petting zoo, animal feeding, a large butterfly habitat, a hot air balloon ride on calm days, a paddleboat lake, dromedary rides, a rainforest themed carousel, and many interactive and educational exhibits.

Although finding kosher food is challenging, the Zoo accommodates everyone’s dietary restrictions and willing allows guests to bring food and drinks inside with abundant picnic areas to chose from. There are some kosher snack, treats, and nosh available if you look hard enough for it. Based on the non-kosher food vendors, I imagine kosher food has not been endeavored by even the most savvy entrepreneur because the resulting prices would be prohibitive.

Purchasing a membership seems to make sense for a family of six or more that expects to visit at least twice per year. Membership also grants ancillary benefits to children’s exhibits such as the playhouse. Overall, I think it is very valuable for the price.

Parking is included in the basic membership. However, you must arrive early to park. The newly constructed parking lot filled up only 45 minutes after the Zoo’s doors opened today. The alternative is not significantly worse, it just requires a longer walk and perhaps hotter car when you return to it after hours of the early summer sun beating down through the windows.

The drive from Central New Jersey can be completed in 90 minutes or less without traffic. Most of the congestion occurs as we line up to take the exit for the Zoo in the final mile.

So, I hope I’ve presented some of the benefits to the Philadelphia Zoo that may help you get past your hesitation in joining us there next time.

About the author: Brian Silvey

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