Philadelphia's 6ABC ZooBalloon had to say an early goodbye Tuesday after suffering irreparable damage in the snowstorm the day before.
Philadelphia Zoo officials, on the recommendation of the balloon's manufacturer, Lindstrand Hot Air Balloons Ltd. in England, performed a controlled release of its 220,000 cubic feet of helium.
An estimated five to 10 tons of snow - about the equivalent of five hippos - had fallen on the balloon.
The ZooBalloon, was owned by the zoo and sponsored by 6ABC, flew guests up to 400 feet in the air in the spring and summer for a view of the zoo's grounds, Fairmount Park, and Center City.
This is the second helium balloon to take flight from the Philadelphia Zoo since June 2002. The first balloon lasted until 2008.
The ZooBalloon was expected to last only until Labor Day this year, which was planned to be its last flight.
There are no plans for a third balloon or another attraction. The zoo will address what to do with the space as part of a forthcoming master plan, said Amy Shearer, the zoo's chief marketing officer.
Since 2002, the balloons have taken about 228,000 people into the air.