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Exploring the Incredible Erie Zoo

Many cities in Pennsylvania have great zoos, and the state’s fourth-largest city, Erie, is no exception.

The Erie Zoo was created in 1927 when the city was gifted an elephant known as “Tom-boy.” In 1930, the zoo moved into its permanent location just south of downtown Erie in present-day Glenwood Park.

Today, the zoo is 15 acres in size and home to more than 400 animals. The scenic Mill Creek cuts through the middle of the grounds making this one of the most beautiful zoos I’ve visited in Pennsylvania.

Visits start near the historic entrance building that was built in 1930. From there, wide and relatively flat trails wide their way through the zoo and past the incredible array of animals found here.

A resting lion at the Erie Zoo in Erie, PA
The zoo is home to many beautiful animals, including lions.

The Erie Zoo is home to many of the typical animals you expect to see in a large zoo including tigers, lions, rhinoceroses, and a variety of monkeys. Until late 2019, the zoo was also home to a giraffe, but he has sadly been relocated to another zoo. The zoo is planning an expansion in the future, however, that would allow them to once again house giraffes at the zoo.

One aspect of the Erie Zoo that I really enjoyed was the wide variety of animals.

In addition to many common species, there were also animals that I feel you don’t often get to see at zoos in the state. These included animals like the Patagonian cavy, sand cat, and the large-spotted genet among others. These unique animal species made my visit to the zoo quite interesting even though I’ve previously visited many different zoos around the state and the world.

Penguins at the Erie Zoo in Erie PA
The penguin exhibit provided very close access to the birds.

Another aspect of the zoo that I really liked was how close some of the viewing areas were to the animals.

This was especially notable at the penguin exhibit where these beautiful birds were only a few feet away and separated by only a very short fence. The birds were close enough that I was even able to read some of their names of the bands around their wings. My young children loved finding out the names of each of the birds.

Amur Tiger at the Erie Zoo in Pennsylvania
A tiger walks near the glass windows of its enclosure.

There were also many animal enclosures that featured glass windows, allowing you to get very close to some of the animals. I especially enjoyed this at the orangutang exhibit where a baby was playing with its father right next to the windows.

In addition to the animals, the Erie Zoo also features some fun other activities. These include a carousel and a small train (both of which have an additional cost), as well as a fun treehouse playground.

The Safariland Express crossing Mill Creek at the Erie Zoo
The Safariland Express crossing Mill Creek.

The train, known as the Safariland Express, crosses two bridges over Mill Creek and even provides unique access to see several of the zoo’s unique animal species. This miniature railroad is a great way to experience even more of the Erie Zoo.

Another small, but fun exhibit at the zoo is the dancing chimes. Located outside of the Adventure Center near the penguin enclosure, this small piece of art makes a chiming sound whenever you step or jump on it. My children had a blast playing on this during our visit, and it’s something I definitely recommend finding if you are visiting the zoo with children.

Rhinos at the Erie Zoo in northwestern PA
The zoo is home to two beautiful rhinos.

Overall, while the Erie Zoo is not as large as spots like the Pittsburgh Zoo, its beautiful location and its nice variety of animals make this a nice place to check out if you are looking for fun things to do in Erie, PA.

Looking for more things to do nearby? Check out the expERIEnce Children’s Museum, Presque Isle State Park, Asbury Woods, and the best boat tours in Erie.

Erie Zoo

Hours: Daily: 10am-5pm

Cost: Adults: $12, Children: $8 

Website: ErieZoo.org

Address: 423 W 38th St
Erie, PA 16508


See map for other area attractions.

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