July 1 ~† Higher Mission Kindle

"Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals) is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission: to be of service to them whenever they require it." ~ St. Francis of Assisi


On this day in 1874 in the passionate City of Brotherly Love, America's first zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo, opened. Originally chartered in 1859, then delayed by the civil war, the zoo was established by the Zoological Society of Philadelphia to provide a "public exhibition... for the instruction and recreation of the people."

Through the years, the Philly Zoo has celebrated the health and well-being of its animals. As early as 1911, this remarkable 42-acre park uncovered the origin of tuberculosis among primates and in 1922 developed nutritional guidelines for animals, including the vitamin-enriched "Zoocake" which helped raise animal life expectancies.

"We all share in these advancements and learn from each otherís successes," explained zoo President Alexander L. Hoskins.

Home to over 1,800 exotic animals, including rare and beautiful beasts like the country's first white lions and the only blue-eyed lemurs. The zoo features the foremost Reptile and Amphibian House, petting zoo, elephant and camel rides, and much more.

"Human wandering through the zoo," wrote poet and playwright Don Marquis. "what do your cousins think of you."

The zoo made headlines on Christmas Eve 1995 when a fire took the lives of 23 primates. The tragedy generated a remarkable outpouring of love and generosity as the world community pulled together and raised money to help create the new $24 million PECO Primate Reserve which opened in 1999. 

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