Rittenhouse Square is turning into a zoo for a day

And you’ve got a bronze billy goat to thank.

Billy, the 104-year-old bronze goat who's set to retire

Billy, the 104-year-old bronze goat who's set to retire

Courtesy Sofia Pignitor
michaelawinberg-square-crop-feb2018

Rittenhouse Square is about to become a zoo.

More than usual, that is. In the last couple years, there have been a handful of local efforts to keep the peace in the area, like the infamous, short-lived wall-sitting ban of 2017 and last month’s fight against the development of a new daycare.

This time, we’re talking about a petting zoo. On Saturday, Sept. 22, the park will host a free pop-up featuring a handful of animals that organizers are calling “exotic” (guess that descriptor fits depending on how sheltered Rittenhouse residents are?). Creatures in attendance will include rabbits, chickens, ducks, horses, goats, sheep and an alpaca. Along with the animals, there’ll be:

  • Face painting
  • Balloon animals
  • Live performances
  • The chance to win giveaways from Shake Shack

The event is free, with advance RSVP. It’s all sponsored by the neighborhood group Friends of Rittenhouse Square, who apparently wanted to celebrate the retirement of their local bronze billy goat.

No, seriously.

You might remember Billy, the iconic goat statue in the southwest corner of Rittenhouse Square. He’s sat in that same spot since 1919, after being created by artist Albert Laessle five years earlier. He’s undergone some damage since then — so much that two years ago, a private donor offered to replace him with an exact replica.

Now, it’s happening. In July it was announced that the elderly Billy is finally getting his retirement package, relocating to a nearby public library. He’ll be replaced by a young and spry version of himself.

Thus, we celebrate. With a zoo. In Rittenhouse Square.