• Dave Sweigert

Lions, Tigers, and Ghosts? Haunted Philadelphia Zoo

Updated: Apr 23, 2019



Lions and tigers and ghosts? That's right. In Philadelphia, one of America's oldest cities not even the zoo is off limits to ghostly inhabitants.

America's first zoo opened July 1st 1874, after a long delay, partly due to the American Civil War. Ticket prices that day were a whopping 25 cents. During the early years the zoo also housed animals brought from Safari on behalf of the Smithsonian Institute, which had not yet built the National Zoo. It is probably also important to note that there are rumors parts of the zoo was built atop a Native American burial ground.



With a trip to the Philadelphia Zoo you may encounter the zoos wild residences. Perhaps you'll see the tigers above your head in the zoo's Catwalk, the Gorillas in the new Gorilla Walk, or my personal favorite, the Polar Bear. You can also be on the lookout for the zoo's other residences, the supernatural kind.


Staff at the zoo report a wide range of ghostly activity. From full body apparitions, and black shadowy forms seen roaming through the zoo's paths.


There are 4 buildings in particular that activity has been reported in, The Solitude House, The Penrose building, The Shelly Building , and finally the Treehouse. We will going over each location individually.



The Solitude House.

This building preexisted the zoo. Built in 1784 by John Penn, the grandson of Philadelphia founder William Penn. It once housed a reptile exhibit, and is also honeycombed by an underground tunnel system, all the makings for a wonderful creepy adventure! Especially when you figure in the sightings of a woman dressed in white on the stairs. Disembodied voices in the basement, attic, and stairway. An investigation of the building found phantom music, and voices. While in the tunnels below there were footsteps. One team member had her hair fondled, a males voice, and the slamming of the basement door from above.

Spirit medium Marisa Liza Pell had noted sensing the spirit of a man. A loner of sorts, perfectly fitting the description of John Penn, also saying that he loves birds. Seems like he has decided to stay behind at the right place.


The Pennrose Building

The Pennrose building was once a research laboratory and vet hospital. Reports in this building are of lights turning on and off by themselves, and a woman seen in the library window. During an investigation, the only thing that turned up was a cold spot.


The Shelly Building

The Shelly building is where you can find offices and classrooms for the zoo. Reports say you may also find a face peering through the plexiglass window in the lobby, as well as doors opening and slamming shut. Paranormal explorers were unable to make the face appear, but were able to document the sounds of a door shutting closed.



The Treehouse

The house was once an animal pen, a children's exhibit, and you can also have your wedding reception or other event here as well. Reports here include an apparition, some have reported feelings of uneasiness, and footsteps with no known source.




Surprisingly, no animal spirits have been reported, despite a devastating fire on December 24th 1995 that took the lives of 23 primates.

Research has found no conclusive evidence as to who these spirits may be. The only reported death was that of a longtime employee less than a year ago. Could it be John Penn? Perhaps members of the Delaware Indian Tribe whose burial ground may still exist?


The next time you're at the Philadelphia Zoo, enjoying the beautiful and exotic wildlife, be on the lookout for the lesser known inhabitants. And should you feel a tug on your hair, don't be afraid, it's just one of them letting you know you are not alone.

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Ghost Hunting,
Poltergeist, Paranormal Activity, Late Night With Friends, EVP & EMF