The Baltimore Zoo was created by act of the Maryland state legislature on April 7, 1876. (Its name was changed to The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore in 2004.) The Zoo is the third oldest zoo in the United States, behind Philadelphia (1873) and Cincinnati (1874). It actually had its beginnings as early as 1862, when the first of many citizens gave animals (the first being 4 swans) to Druid Hill Park for public display.
Today the 135-plus acre zoo property is owned by the City of Baltimore and leased to the State of Maryland. The Maryland Zoological Society, established in 1967, operates the Zoo under a lease agreement with the state. The Zoological Society assumed full management of the Zoo in 1984. Currently the Zoo’s animal collection encompasses more than 1,500 birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, representing nearly 200 species. Animals are displayed in natural settings replicating their native habitats.
Polar Bear Watch, the Zoo’s exhibit about life on the edge of the Arctic, features an authentic Tundra Buggy® from which visitors can watch Alaska and Magnet cavort in and out of the water. At our camel ride exhibit (open seasonally), visitors get up close and personal with our favorite humped animals. Be sure to take a ride on the back of one of these incredible creatures. Visitors learn about animals in their own backyard, as well as those in more exotic locales, when they take a trek through the Maryland Wilderness, home to the award-winning Children’s Zoo, or embark on an African Journey.
The Zoo is currently constructing a brand new, state-of-the-art exhibit for African penguins. Enhancements will include special underwater viewing areas for guests in addition to a larger, more natural habitat for the birds allowing for a doubling in size of the colony. The Maryland Zoo is home currently to 46 endangered penguins, and proud to be one of the largest and most successful African penguin breeding colonies in all of North America. Learn more about the future exhibit by clicking here.
The Zoo is proud to be accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), assuring excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors and a better future for all living things. Fewer than 10% of the approximately 2,800 animal exhibitors licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture are AZA accredited. The AZA logo is the easiest, most reliable way for people to choose zoos and aquariums that meet rigorous accreditation standards.
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums undergo a thorough review that includes a detailed accreditation application as well as a multiple day on-site inspection by a team of experts from around the country. Learn more about how AZA Accreditation works.
The Zoo’s mission is to inspire and educate people to join with it in the active support and conservation of wildlife and wild places. The Zoo is committed to serving its communities by engaging people with the wonder of the living world through personal encounters that foster lifelong harmonious relationships with nature.