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.
In the Maryland Wilderness exhibit, visitors "walk across Maryland " from the freshwater marshes of the Chesapeake Bay westward to a piedmont stream, mountain cave, woodlands, meadow and working farmyard. Visitors discover the wonders of their most accessible natural world, the Maryland wilderness. Through signage and school programs offered on grounds, they are encouraged to protect the Bay. They learn that the entire state falls within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and that every drop of water, polluted or pure, finds its way eventually to the Bay.
SUMMER HOURS (CURRENT):
OPEN DAILY 9:30AM*-4PM
*Special early opening hours Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
OPEN DAILY 10AM – 4PM
MARCH – MAY, SEPTEMBER – DECEMBER
OPEN FRIDAYS THROUGH MONDAYS 10AM – 4PM
JANUARY AND FEBRUARY ONLY
The Zoo is closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. Please visit the Zoo website homepage for any weather related closings.
(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)
$19 Adults (ages 12-64), $16 Seniors (ages 65+), $15 Children (ages 2-11), Children under 2 are free, Members are free.
Parking is free.
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.
Attractions and rides include carousel rides, Feed a Giraffe, Penguin Encounters, Face Painting, and Jones Falls Zephyr Train Ride.
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is generally considered to be the third oldest (or by some other circumstances, the second oldest) zoological park in the United States, having opened in 1876, sixteen years after the historic Park itself was purchased and opened to the city public. For a number of decades in the 20th century, it was operated and supervised by the Baltimore City Board of Park Commissioners, and organized in 1860 with the first major city park at Druid Hill and later the city Department of Parks and Recreation, through their subordinate Bureau of the Zoo. It was later assisted by the organization of a group of supportive friends, animal and wildlife lovers in the Baltimore City Zoological Society, which performed a saving function in the late 1960s when changing demographic and historical populations in the surrounding communities around Druid Hill Park resulted in increased crime and some harassment incidents to the animal population, resulting in a few deaths and maimings, resulted in a protective fence erected around the Zoo campus, and entrance ticketing center and gates which previously had been open to the surrounding Park. In later decades, by 2004, a course of action between the City and the Society resulted in a semi-private and new independent operation arrangement with a separate board of trustees for the Zoo with increased private, state and suburban counties funding to supplement the restricting resources of the central City. This also resulted in a renaming of the old City Zoo as "The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore." For several decades from the 1950s to the 1970s, the City Zoo was made famous locally through the media-savvy and through the new medium of television with programs and promotions of Dr. Arthur Watson, the long-time zoo director. In 1980, when the famous iconic "Harborplace" festival marketplace pavilions at the Inner Harbor by developer James Rouse, opened by downtown Baltimore's waterfront business district and its Patapsco River and Harbor, one of the stalls/stores was of stuffed and children's play fiber animals called "Dr. Watson's Zoo," owned and operated by the now retired Dr. Watson.