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A roaring place to visit near our area: A summer road trip that could be zoo-rific!

From penguins to giraffes, there's a wild spot near our area that could create family fun, and it's all in a day's drive.

SCHNECKSVILLE, Pa. — Here's an extra reason to go wild this weekend or another time in the summer: A trip to the zoo!

If your family has been itching for a road trip that's not too far from home, how about cruising into the Lehigh Valley Zoo

Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey visited the nonprofit organization just outside of Allentown on Friday.

The history of the Lehigh Valley Zoo according to its website: 

Mission

Lehigh Valley Zoo’s mission is to create a safe, engaging, and enlightening wildlife experience for guests of all ages as it demonstrates leadership in the cultural, scientific, and conservation communities.

History

Founded in 1906 by General Harry C. Trexler, a local industrialist, the Trexler Nature Preserve has played a significant role in saving the North American bison from extinction by providing a place where both bison and elk could roam freely undisturbed. In 1935, the County of Lehigh took ownership of the Preserve, and, in 1974, construction began on the Preserve’s 29-acre Zoo. In 2004, Lehigh Valley Zoological Society assumed management of the Zoo, as well as the daily management of the bison and elk herd and the palominos in the 1,100-acre Trexler Nature Preserve.

Overview

As a non-profit organization, Lehigh Valley Zoo is a relatively young organization, but as a treasured community landmark, our history spans over a century. Lehigh Valley Zoo, located in the heart of the Trexler Nature Preserve, is home to more than 325 animal ambassadors representing over 125 species.

The Zoo’s animal collection includes over 22 species collectively managed through the Species Survival Plan Program™(SSP), administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). As a means to share important conservation messaging with Zoo guests and contribute to field conservation, the Zoo contributes to, participates in, and initiates wildlife conservation programs at home and in the field.

The Zoo’s full-circle conservation projects spotlight: Spotted Turtle (local), Mexican Gray Wolf (national), and African Penguin (international). You can learn about the Zoo’s conservation efforts by visiting the Zoo’s Reptile & Amphibian Discovery Center, watching a daily African Penguin feeding, and observing a real-life wolf feed throughout the year. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), and an institutional member of American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK), the zoo hosts year-round family-friendly events and activities, educational programs, and camps.

Accomplishments

Lehigh Valley Zoo is proud to be listed as an educational improvement organization under the PA Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC). Over 35,000 students participated in our formal education programs. General attendance at Lehigh Valley Zoo grew from 63,000 visitors (2005) to over 200,000 visitors (2017).

Open year-round, the zoo was voted Best Family-Friendly Outing in Lehigh Valley Style’s Best of the Lehigh Valley since 2009.

Additionally, Winter Light Spectacular, an annual fundraising event that debuted in 2016, has brought another 341,000 guests to the Zoo, including 58,000 in 2018 and 57,000 in 2020. The event has been featured nationally by USA Today in “Holiday light displays worth traveling for across America” in 2019 and by Los Angeles Times in “‘Christmas City’ is a real place. And yes, it’s kind of like living in a Hallmark movie” in 2020.