By Ellis Fast
On January 31, the sixth graders went to the Philadelphia Zoo. It wasn’t exactly the warmest day, but it wasn’t crowded. We got to see some animals and it was less stressful for the teachers than normal classes. Even in those circumstances, some groups got lost or lost track of time. Overall, it was extremely fun.
Some of the animals that we saw were a wide selection of primates that we saw in the primate house. They include the Common Squirrel Monkey. The monkeys like to eat fruit and insects. They become almost completely independent between 5-8 months. They can live for 15 years in the wild, but in captivity, for example in a zoo, they can live for up to 20 years. The ones that we saw were swinging about their room. Our tour guide said that the zookeepers needed to keep them entertained for their health, so they installed interesting things like ropes and switches on the walls. We saw the same thing occurring in the Gorilla’s room, where, to keep their brains occupied, zookeepers hid treats among the hay on the ground so the Gorillas would constantly be looking for them.
We also saw a wide selection of birds at the McNeil Avian Center. The McNeil Avian Center is an amazing bird sanctuary at the zoo that displays many different breeds. There is a room that has trees and has no barrier between you and the birds. In the room, there is a Raggiana Bird-of-Paradise. It mainly eats fruit and arthropods and they have really bright fluffy tail feathers that they use for attracting a mate. When we were there, we saw it ruffling its feathers and cawing to its mate. When calling, they stick their tail feathers out behind them and flap their wings. The room was very hot and humid as to make the room seem like their environment. Hanging flaps separated the rooms to keep the birds from escaping.
However, some of the birds like the ducks and the Royal Palm Turkeys, but especially the Peacocks, are allowed to roam around the zoo. There are a total of four Peacocks at the zoo and once in 2018 they escaped and were found strutting down Interstate 76. One was found dead and the State Police shut down multiple lanes to get them back to the zoo, but the other three got away and went miles from the zoo. Two of them were found two and a half miles away by a city resident at the Equestrian center in Fairmount Park, which is a horse riding school. But why would a peacock go to a horse riding school? Did they want to become Peacock Jockeys? What happened to the other Peacock?
We also saw big mammals around the place, including giraffes. Giraffes are a vulnerable species meaning that they are not quite endangered but should be taken notice of. Giraffes can live up to 28 years in captivity and 20-25 years in the wild. They eat 75 pounds of food a day and can run up to 35 mph. The Philadelphia Zoo recently welcomed a new baby giraffe in 2018, named Beau. He was born to Gus and Stella, and his older sister, Abigail, is celebrating her 10th birthday this year.
The Philadelphia Zoo is an amazing place and the sixth graders had the amazing opportunity to see it in the winter.