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Cool Off at the Philadelphia Zoo’s ‘Winter’

As the weather heats up, chill out with real snow.

Just in time for summer’s heat, the Philadelphia Zoo is bringing “Winter” to the city, for nine weeks of sledding, shoveling and snowball throwing.


The exhibit area, which will be open from June 17 until August 20, features real snow. Visitors can tube down the 120-foot-long Snow Leopard Slope, make snow angels and snowballs, snap a selfie, and learn about how animals adapt to the cold. For younger kids, there’s the Polar Bear Pavilion, with a smaller slide and snow pits for digging and building.


The zoo will be “the coolest place around this summer,” said Andy Baker, the zoo’s chief operating officer. “I’m forecasting icy fun here at the zoo.”


The zoo is working with SnowMagic to make the white stuff. Baker said it’s a chemical-free snow, and it can be made even when temperatures are in the 80s and 90s, so a heat wave won’t stop the fun. It may need to be replenished more often in especially hot or rainy weather, he said, but it won’t melt away entirely.


Like other zoo exhibits, education is an equal focus. Along the adaptation wall, visitors can see how humans’ winter clothing mimics some of the ways animals stave off the cold. Polar bears, for example, have a 3-to-5-inch layer of fat — so thick that they’re often invisible to infared cameras that seek heat.


Before or after you’ve seen “Winter,” check out the zoo’s two snow leopards, to see how their big paws help them stay on top of deep snow, as if they were wearing snowshoes.


“Winter” tickets are available now at the zoo’s website; click here to order. Tickets are $8 for members at the Family Deluxe, Contributor, and Friends levels, and $9 during the week and $12 on weekends for members at the Individual, Family, and Family Plus levels. For non-members, tickets are $10 during the week and $12 on weekends, plus the cost of general admission: $23 for adults and $19 for kids ages 2 to 11.



Photographs by Casey Kallen. 


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