TODAY   |  April 12, 2013

Philadelphia Zoo opens largest kids’ center

The nation’s first zoo is introducing a new experience: a LEED-certified green children’s learning center that puts kids in close proximity to horses, sheep, fish, and more. TODAY’s Jenna Wolfe reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> reporter: kids zoo you, the new philadelphia children's zoo, but first this is "today" on nbc.

>>> we're back now at 8:48. tomorrow is going to be a very big day at the nation's very first zoo.

>> that's right, the philadelphia zoo introduces a new and unique experience for kids and animals alike and "today's" national correspondent jenna wolfe had a sneak peek before it opened.

>> had a good time. you think children's zoo, you think zoo only smaller, animals, only more reachable. you don't necessarily think interactive, educational and a place where you can be one with the other species, until now. it's grooming time here at the philadelphia zoo , and at first glance it's hard to tell who is enjoying it more, the tenants or the kids. but this is more than your everyday petting zoo . this is a brand new kids zoo you, a state-of-the-art $33 million facility and home to the largest children zoo learning center in america. it's also the first in the world where animals can roam through the zoo on trails and bridges like these. i have food right here. okay, we're good. okay. meanwhile humans can burrow through ant tunnels well like ants.

>> what we're focusing on parallel play . kids can role play like they're an ant.

>> reporter: i have a question what is the coolest thing you've seen so far?

>> the cave is so cool.

>> reporter: the cave, why is the cave cool?

>> because --

>> reporter: okay we'll check back with him later. the big message the zoo is emphasizes is conservation.

>> we want to create the next generation of wildlife stewards. we want people to be able to make a difference in this planet and the resources of this planet.

>> reporter: so along with learning about what is in the water kids learn how to conserve as well. here they get a lesson in recycling and get to know rare and endangered animals.

>> the arapala goat is the rarest goat in the world, fewer than 300 left in the world.

>> reporter: who is this guy?

>> rambo, he is our jacob sheep , he is a ram and a proud papa. he just had his first babies here last week.

>> reporter: and as adorable as that is, perhaps you should meet the resident horses.

>> they're miniature horses .

>> reporter: seriously all kidding aside you look like someone threw you in a dryer. you're okay with that? so they're nibblers.

>> yes. good boy.

>> reporter: that's how i eat my cereal, too. meanwhile the sheep were not a amus amused. you guys were literally talking incessantly about three minutes ago and now that you're on the "today" show, suddenly you have stage fright ? let's hear it. well, actually this is a place for kids and animals to connect. turns out they're better at speaking the language anyway. what noise does a fish make? perfect, let's do the fish noise together. baaah! baaah!

>> we have a cat named poindexter.

>> reporter: what sound does that abmalmake behind you?

>> baah.

>> reporter: say it again.

>> baah.

>> reporter: i don't speak sheep, what are they saying.

>> hi.

>> reporter: how do you say hi in goat language.

>> baah.

>> reporter: how are you say how are you.

>> baah.

>> reporter: that sounds the same, but they understand each other?

>> yes.

>> i had a really good time, very environmentally conscious and i am one with children and animals so i found my calling.

>> suits you very well in