New Habitat for Otters, Pandas at the Philadelphia Zoo

The new exhibit, Water is Life, has a slide, waterfall and lessons about the importance of water for survival.

At the Philadelphia Zoo's newest habitat, "Water is Life," water is more than just sustenance, it's play! This space, home to Red Panda Pass and Otter Falls, gives guests a close look at the endangered red panda and the giant river otter while providing information about how vital water is to the happy and healthy survival of these lively creatures. 

Interactive water sculptures welcome visitors before they move on to watch four giant river otters frolic down (and up!) a slide and waterfall. Continue up the path and kids will love to see through the glass as otters Yeyuno, Thor, Matteo and Ariranha twist and turn underwater or snuggle on the sunny rocks. The red pandas, Khumbie and Spark, live just around the corner. They spend their days climbing tree branches that extend over visitors heads. 


"Water is Life" aims to educate and entertain adults and kids alike on how vital water is to all creatures. While the otter's need for water is obvious, the red panda's is less so. However, their diet is primarily made up of bamboo, which is a water-intensive crop, and their status as endangered is due in large part to their natural habitats being destroyed as a result of climate change. This information is conveyed enthusiastically by zoo staff who are equipped with interactive games and audio equipment to capture the attention of a handful of kids or a full house of guests. 

While it's tempting to keep looking down at the otters swimming forever, don't forget to look up as you walk through this habitat. As the newest installment of Zoo360, the Philadelphia Zoo's initiative to give its animals more room to roam, there are overhead bridges and tunnels that grant visitors a unique view of the pandas and otters. These trails cultivate a dynamic and memorable experience for guests and create more variety in the daily life of animals, insuring that all zoo inhabitants, be they human or creature, are healthy and happy.

"Water is Life" is now open to all guests of the Philadelphia Zoo, just in time for the summer season.

Kathleen Norton is an intern for MetroKids. She attends the University of Pennsylvania.

Categories: Family Fun Features