Party an­i­mals on the prowl at Philly’s Mar­riott

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SOCIETY - Pho­tos and story by Joan Bang For Main Line Me­dia News

When it comes to pro­tec­tion and preser­va­tion of na­ture and its in­hab­i­tants, Philadel­phi­ans and sub­ur­ban­ites have a great track record as wit­nessed at a re­cent gala held to keep feed­ing the cof­fers for the city’s highly ac­claimed zoo.

Many things associated with the City of Brotherly Love have had their ori­gins here be­fore ex­pand­ing else­where, but a stand­out among them arose in a bend along a curve of the Schuylkill River. Lo­cated just a tad north and west of the down­town area, in what has come to be known as the Cen­ten­nial District, the Philadel­phia Zoo (PZ) was the first of its type to be rec­og­nized as a “true” fa­cil­ity where an­i­mals could be seen up close and per­sonal.

Slated to open its doors and grounds at the end of the 1850s, the pro­posal was thwarted by the ar­rival of the Civil War and would ac­tu­ally take an­other 15 years for the idea to come to fruition. Though de­layed at that junc­ture, PZ has more than made up for it in the en­su­ing decades by cre­at­ing not just a safe haven for crea­tures, but also by pro­vid­ing a highly re­garded botan­i­cal at­mos­phere in which to see them.

In ad­di­tion to its out­stand­ing rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing able to breed in cap­tiv­ity, the first of which feats came just be­fore the Great De­pres­sion, PZ keeps search­ing and com­ing up with ways to en­hance the lives of its in­hab­i­tants and those who come to see them. One of its re­cently well re­ceived, as well as award win­ning at­tempts, has been through the in­no­va­tion and im­ple­men­ta­tion of what’s known as Zoo 360. It’s an over­head trails sur­rounded by mesh net­ting which al­lows an­i­mals, big and small, to get from one side of the park to the other while still be­ing “caged.”

PZ is open to the pub­lic all but five days of the year and is now gear­ing up for some spe­cial events. Dur­ing the month of De­cem­ber there are two op­por­tu­ni­ties to cel­e­brate the hol­i­day sea­son by at­tend­ing a Break­fast with Santa or Zoo Noel. For dates and times visit the web­site at philadel­phi­a­zoo. org.

Dan Slack of Vil­lanova dis­cusses all the new up­dates to the Zoo with Grete Greenacre of Malvern and her hus­band, Martyn.

Malvern res­i­dent San­dra Baldino catches up with her neigh­bors, John Good­man and his wife, Vir­ginia Funk.

Bryn Mawr denizens Ann Calvert and Jody McNeil are among the first “party an­i­mals” to ar­rive.

Event com­mit­tee mem­ber Jim Buck of Haver­ford (right) gives Ned Mont­gomery and Anika War­ren of Drexel Hill a run down on all the re­cent up­dates to the Zoo.

Con­ser­va­tion Im­pact awardees Raj and Kamla Gupta of New­town Square are con­grat­u­lated for their out­reach by Philadel­phia Mayor Jim Ken­ney.

Wendy Cal­houn of Haver­ford and Patty Slack of Vil­lanova (right) get a les­son in zo­ol­ogy from the gal who knows, vet­eri­nar­ian Donna Ia­leg­gio.

Al­ways a gen­tle­man, Bill Buck of Bryn Mawr es­corts Louise Reed of Vil­lanova to her ta­ble.

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