By Michelle Reese

ZOO Keys are back! If you grew up going to the Philadelphia Zoo anytime during the 1960s through the early 2000s, it’s likely that you remember the plastic keys that you could use around the zoo to find out various zoo facts. Well, after over a decade of retirement, the keys have returned for a whole new generation.

The Philadelphia Zoo is kicking off spring and summer with a trio of exciting new exhibits and programs. In addition to the rejuvenation of the treasured Zoo Keys, Creatures of Habitat: A Gazillion-Piece Animal Adventure is open through September 30. And finally,there is a brand-new outdoor dining destination, The Urban Green.

The Philadelphia Zoo hosted an opening ceremony on Thursday, April 4 with speeches, a food tasting and ribbon cutting. All three exhibits and programs are open to the public as of April 6, 2019.

(Photo Credit: Michelle Reese)
(Photo Credit: Michelle Reese)


“Creatures of Habitat extends and expands upon our important conservation work,” says Vikram H. Dewan, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Zoo. “Every child – and adult– can relate to the universal desire to protect our planet, this place we all call home.”

Creatures of Habitat is a fantastical adventure featuring 12 amazing life-size LEGO® brick vignettes situated throughout the Zoo. This gazillion piece journey shares the issues animals are facing around the world and spotlights the heroes working to save them. Each life-sized LEGO® brick scene is intricately fashioned from thousands of LEGO® bricks and is on exhibit only at Philadelphia Zoo through September 30th.
Creatures of Habitat highlights the zoo community’s role in protecting wildlife. Crafted by Sean Kenney, one of only seven American LEGO® certified professional artisans in the world, Creatures of Habitat features more than 30 life-size animal sculptures built from hundreds of thousands of tiny LEGO® bricks. Fragile in the wild, some on the brink of extinction, the species represented in these vignettes range from Borneo to Brazil and the Arctic Circle to Africa, and in size from a 500-pound polar bear to the delicate golden lion tamarin.


While visiting Creatures of Habitat, guests can use the famous Zoo Keys at audio books located at each LEGO® brick sculpture as well as other areas throughout the Zoo. Turn your key to unlock insider secrets and stories about the magnificent creatures living at Philadelphia Zoo, told by the animal keepers who care for them. (You can choose if you’d like to listen to these tales from the Animal Kingdom in English or Spanish.) The Zoo Key is a Philadelphia tradition that dates back over the decades, so this is a much-anticipated return. In fact, if you’ve held onto your key all this time, you can bring it back. Yes, it will still work!

Creatures of Habitat is included with the price of admission, but the Zoo Key must be purchased in the gift ship for $3 each. They keys are made out of recycled plastic.

“We are thrilled to bring back the Zoo Keys. It is legendary.” – Philadelphia Zoo Chief Marketing Officer, Amy Shearer

(Photo Credit: Michelle Reese)
(Photo Credit: top, Hughe Dillon; bottom, Kory Aversa)


Remember when the only food options at places like the zoo were sad, mass produced frozen fare? Those days are over! The Philadelphia Zoo continues to step up its foodie rating with its new open-air food and drink marketplace. Urban Green features three brand-new food trucks including The Fry Bowl (fried favorites), Root to Leaf (vegetarian-based fare) and Pressed (paninis and wraps). Choose from an array of delicious options from fresh,  sandwiches and custom fries to frequently changing craft beers and vibrant wines. Groundswell Design Group, known for their work on Spruce Street Harbor Park, partnered with Philadelphia Zoo on the project. The Urban Green also features a 132 feet long giant mural, hang out space, photo op spots, and a boardwalk that connects the market area and food trucks with the play and dining areas. The Urban Green will be open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Groundswell Design Group CEO David Fierbend said. “It’s as if a neighborhood park with great food and a cool atmosphere just sprang up in the middle of the Zoo.”

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