ZooAmerica is a zoo located in Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States.
The zoo was founded in 1910 by
Milton S. Hershey
Milton S. Hershey with a few animals,
including bears, birds, and deer. Today, the zoo covers 11 acres
and is home to more than 75 species and 200 individual animals,
including some that are rare and endangered.
The zoo is privately controlled by the
Hershey Trust Company and is
connected to Hershey Park.
ZooAmerica is also an accredited member of
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the World Association
of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).
1.1 Early history
1.2 Recent history
2.1 Southern Swamps
2.3 Eastern Woodlands
2.4 Big Sky Country
2.5 Great Southwest
5 In popular culture
7 External links
In 1905, Franz and Louise Zinner moved to Lebanon, Pennsylvania, from
Weisenberg, Germany. Mr. Zinner was unable to keep the 12 prairie dogs
which he had been given by a friend, so he gave them to Milton S.
Hershey who went on to use them as an attraction at Hershey Park. In
1910, Mr. Zinner received a black bear from the same friend and once
again, it was given to Hershey. With the acquisition of another
animal, Hershey decided to build a zoo that included bears, birds,
deer, and other animals.
In 1910, the park officially opened and throughout the year, the zoo
received a few more bears, angora goats, fox squirrels, opossums,
peacocks, pheasants, and zebus. In 1914, the zoo received a lion,
monkeys, and a leopard. In 1915, the zoo received major renovations to
help alleviate the overflow since new animals were arriving. Those
included the addition of the Hershey Laundry building. Once the
renovations were done, the center of the zoo had a large building and
every enclosure was renovated and some exhibits were built along the
creek. In 1916 the zoo displayed hundreds of animals.
By 1934, the zoo covered more than 40 acres, had a reptile house and a
pair of baby elephants, but they were sold after Hershey overheard a
guest talk about how they prefer the monkeys.
Milton Hershey with an elephant at ZooAmerica
After Milton Hershey's death and the end of World War II, the zoo
opened under new leadership. The zoo acquired a variety of new animals
includes African sheep, antelope, aoudad, bison, black bear, chipmunk,
crow, deer, duck, emu, fox, goat, goose, groundhog, hare, hawk, llama,
monkey, opossum, owl, parakeet, partridge, pheasant, rabbit, raccoon,
skunk, squirrel, and wolf. The zoo also built a diversified wildlife
education exhibit on Pennsylvania's wildlife.
Hershey Park and
Zoo America both closed for renovations. A
year later, they both re-opened, the zoo included a new monkey island,
a barnyard petting zoo and baby animals such as llamas and elephants.
Six years later, John Strawbridge III became the new director of
ZooAmerica. Under his direction, the zoo was connected with Hershey
Park and decided to focus entirely on North American animals. He even
made sure the animals had naturalistic exhibits.
The new North American Wildlife Park occupied 11 acres and consisted
of five sections: North Woods, Eastern Woodlands, Big Sky Country,
Grassy Waters, and Cactus Community.
ZooAmerica was accredited by the Association of Zoos and
Aquariums becoming only the second zoo or aquarium in
Finally, in 2000
ZooAmerica opened a new bear exhibit featuring hills,
grass, toys, and a 13,000-gallon swimming pond with fish for the
bears. The following year and in 2012 two albino alligators were
In 2004, the zoo established a program for kids to become more
involved with conservation. It included an official mascot, Ranger
Scratch, and the Ranger Scratch Kid's Club, a program designed to
educate kids about conservation and environmental issues. Five years
later, the zoo finished construction of their new education building,
the Woodlands Education Center, which gives guests experiences with
The first section of the zoo is the Southern Swamps, which has a
variety of animals from marshy, semi-tropical areas. Some of the
animals include, but are not limited to the alligator snapping turtle,
American alligator, barred owl, a variety of rattlesnakes, gopher
tortoise, roseate spoonbill, and more.
Another exhibit at
ZooAmerica is their Northlands exhibit, which
showcases animals that are native from Newfoundland across Canada into
Alaska. Some animals on exhibit there are the American marten, bald
eagle, Canada lynx, gray wolf, porcupine, snowy owl and peregrine
falcon. It provides a great experience on how animals survive in some
of the coldest climates.
American marten at ZooAmerica
The Eastern Woodlands exhibit provides guests with a unique experience
on how animals are adapting to an ever-changing eastern United States.
Some animals, which can be seen include the red-tailed hawk, river
otter, barn owl, American black bear, bobcat and eastern wild
The black bears at ZooAmerica
Big Sky Country
Towards the end of the zoo is Big Sky Country, which exhibits animals
in their native environment in a unique way. It has vast pieces of
flat grass, replicas of the bottom of mountain summits and areas where
short grass meets with tall grass. Some of the wildlife species
include the American elk,prairie dog, pronghorn, turkey vulture,
black-billed magpie, sandhill crane, long-eared owl and mountain lion.
Finally, the last exhibit at the zoo is the Great Southwest, which
includes a section with nocturnal animals, armadillos and an open-bird
sanctuary. Some animals on exhibit include the black-footed ferret,
burrowing owl, chuckwalla, coati, vampire bat, desert box turtle,
desert tortoise, nine-banded armadillo, ocelot, ringtail, roadrunner,
tarantula, and thick-billed parrot.
ZooAmerica is an active member in the conservation and breeding
process known as the
Species Survival Plan. The zoo currently houses
and is working to breed the thick-billed parrots, swift fox, Canada
lynx, black-footed ferret, and ocelots.
In the past,
ZooAmerica played a big role in bringing back the golden
eagle and peregrine falcon, which were both facing severe threats in
the wild. However,
ZooAmerica has raised many birds of prey which were
later released, including a peregrine that was later found nesting
along the Susquehanna River.
In 2014, The National Military Fish & Wildlife Association honored
two naturalists at ZooAmerica, Tim Becker and Ann Holzman, for their
work in the reintroduction of the regal fritillary butterfly to
On September 7, 2011, flooding took place in Hershey, Pennsylvania,
due to Tropical Storm Lee. The rain broke records set by Hurricane
Agnes in 1972. As a result, Spring Creek, which runs through Hershey
ZooAmerica overflowed. Many animals were put into safe and
secure areas, but the bison, Esther and Ryan, were just moved to
higher ground in their exhibit, unfortunately, the rain increased
drastically, resulting in the animals panicking. Even though keepers
used ropes to keep them above water, one of them drowned and the
second was forced to be euthanized.
In popular culture
In Carole Marsh's book, The Mystery in Chocolate Town...Hershey,
Pennsylvania and in Milton Hershey: Young Chocolatier by M.M. Eboch,
ZooAmerica is mentioned multiple times.
In Milton Hershey: The Chocolate King,
ZooAmerica is mentioned quite a
few times. The film was narrated by Jack Perkins and is available on
Netflix and Biography.com.
^ a b D'Antonio, Michael (2007). Hershey: Milton S. Hershey's
Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams. Simon and
Schuster. p. 159. ISBN 9780743264105. (via Google
^ "Timeline of 35 years at ZooAmerica". PennLive.com. Retrieved
^ "Conservation - Current Projects". www.zooamerica.com.
^ "About ZooAmerica". www.zooamerica.com.
^ "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". www.aza.org.
^ "Timeline of 35 years at ZooAmerica". PennLive.com. Retrieved
^ "Hershey Community Archives -
ZooAmerica - Hershey Zoo".
^ "Southern Swamps". www.zooamerica.com.
^ "Northlands". www.zooamerica.com.
^ "Eastern Woodlands". www.zooamerica.com.
^ "Big Sky Country". www.zooamerica.com.
^ "Great Southwest". www.zooamerica.com.
ZooAmerica turns 35, with some original staff and critters still on
^ "Butterfly project nets award for
^ "One bison drowns at Hershey zoo, another euthanized".
^ "2 drowning
ZooAmerica bison euthanized in Hershey".
Coordinates: 40°17′15″N 76°39′03″W / 40.28750°N
76.65083°W / 40.2875