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Best Zoo America

author
Daniel Brown
• Saturday, 14 November, 2020
• 8 min read

Instead of stirring up controversy by trying to label the best zoo out there, I’m instead going to show you a list of my favorites. I’ve scrounged through dozens of travel blogs and took note of their most-recommended zoos in the US, adding some that I personally love.

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(Source: www.visitflorida.com)

Contents

Popular for: The zoo’s work in taking care of many rare and endangered animals Number of Animals: 17,000 animals across 962 species Must-visit: Don’t miss the famous Desert Dome (where you’ll experience authentic desert ecosystem indoors under the most spectacular-looking dome), The Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium, and Kingdom of the Night (a massive indoor swamp). For Kids: Aside from the Children’s Adventure Trails exhibit, your kids will talk about Henry Poorly Zoo for ages if you join the sleeping bag safaris and spend overnight at the zoo.

Animal Interaction: Feed lettuce to giraffes, or visit the separate petting zoo to hug some goats. Check here for updated Omaha zoo ticket prices.

But after 2 decades of stay in San Diego, the giant pandas had to go back to China. His “baby mother” Bad Run and their teenager-bear Ciao Lieu went home next in April 2019.

Popular for: Pioneered the concept of open-air, cage-less exhibits that re-create natural animal habitats, and a zoo that successfully bred Giant Pandas to prevent them from extinction. Number of Animals: Over 3,500 animals across 800+ species Must-visit: Koalas and kangaroos in Outback, Polar Bear Plunge in Northern Frontier, Elephant Odyssey, gorillas in Lost Forest, penguins at Conrad Preys Africa Rocks, as well as pretty flamingos and otters in Lost Forest.

For Kids: Check out the outdoor playground called ‘Discovery Outpost’ and the Petting Paddock to be able to pet some sheep, goats, pigs and other farm animals. Tickets: Admission fees go from $48 to $60, depending on the type of passes.

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(Source: www.anime-planet.com)

Popular for: Being the first indoor, multi-species exhibit (the Tropic World), which houses animals from three continents. Number of Animals: 2,300 animals Must-visit: Check out the spider monkeys at the South American area, impressive variety of endangered snow leopards, African lions, Amur leopards at “Big Cats,” and free-flying Rodriquez fruit bats, kangaroos and more at the Australia House.

Animal Interaction: Hamill Family Wild Encounters is free from November 2019 to end of February 2020, so take advantage of hands-on feeding of animals like goats, parakeets, reindeer, alpacas, llamas, pandas, wallabies, and more. Tickets: Varies from $18 to $30, depending on season and type of passes.

Number of Animals: 1,300 animals from 340+ species Must-visit: Many endangered animals housed at The Rare Animal Conservation Center, birds from Africa and the Pacific at the McNeil Avian Center, wild cats like African lions, Siberian tigers, Amur leopards, and snow leopards at the Key bank Big Cat Falls, and Humboldt penguins at the Penguin Point. Outside, the Kiddie has a playground for kids to chill while adults get to rest.

There’s also a play area (called Meerut Mat Maze) at the wild hog section. For bigger kids, go on a scavenger hunt (Philadelphia zoo always has one ready).

Animal Interaction: The guided walking tour Behind-the-Scenes (BTS) lets you interact with giant tortoise, giant river otter, giraffes, the hippos, Humboldt penguins, white rhinos, and some big cats like lions, pumas, leopards, jaguars and tigers. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is so massive (at 588 acres) that it features a 22-acre Zambezi Bay water park, 18-hole Safari Golf Club, summer campgrounds, a theme park, and a ton of other activities.

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(Source: www.insideedition.com)

Popular for: Former zoo director “Jungle Jack” Hanna, who was a famous animal-expert guest on Letterman, Larry David, Good Morning America, and others news/talk show circuits. He was responsible for transforming the caged enclosures into habitat environments and conservation/preservation of many near-extinct animals during his tenure at the zoo (from 1978 to 1992).

Hanna may not be zoo director anymore, but he is still around providing educational programs throughout the year. Number of Animals: 9,000 animals representing over 800 species from around the globe Must-visit: Congo Expedition African Forest, North America’s Bear Exhibit section and the newly-constructed Adventure Cove (where you’ll find the Life Support System building and new Animal Encounters Village).

The plane located at the Africa exhibit will also be a favorite for kids of all ages. Animal Interaction: Walk up close to the kangaroos and koala bears when you visit the Australian section, or feed giraffes near the observation deck.

This 500-acre attraction is a zoological theme park divided into 7 areas, including Africa, Asia, Camp Minnie-Mickey and Dino Land USA. Popular for: A mix of Disney musical shows, our favorite characters, exotic animals, and theme-park features in one.

Popular for: The zoo’s Giant Panda Habitat, which houses two adult Giant Pandas on loan from China, named Tian (male) and Ma Xing (female). Number of Animals: 1,800 animals of 300 different species Must-visit: Great Cats on Lion and Tiger Hill, Amazonia, The Cheetah Conservation Station, The Reptile Discovery Center, The Great Ape House and Elephant Trails are some must-see exhibits.

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(Source: www.webjazba.com)

Number of Animals: 1900 animals from over 500 species Must-visit: Aside from the Africa exhibit, the awesome historical structures around the zoo (like the Elephant House and Reptile House), don’t forget to pass by Fiona the hippopotamus, the first hippo born at the zoo in 75 years and went viral for being born premature and slowly grown healthier in front of the world’s eyes. So, whether you want to pet wallabies, feed giraffes from a safari vehicle or help rehabilitate polar bears, you'll find plenty of ways to interact with animals at these 30 must-visit zoos.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has evolved from philanthropist Spencer Penrose's private exotic animal collection into a noted educational facility. While exploring the exhibits that house the zoo's 170 species, be sure to pet the wallabies, greet the orangutans and feed lettuce to the friendly giraffes.

Weekends are especially crowded, so the best way to see this can't-miss attraction is to splurge on a premium zoo experience, such as an early morning breakfast with pandas followed by a property tour. Save money by going on a Wednesday (when the entrance fee is any amount you wish to donate), bringing food and buying a Metro-North Railroad Getaway Package.

Families can take advantage of free facilities like a lagoon and an aquarium or pay for special experiences like train rides, zip lining and giraffe feedings. For a unique zoo adventure, join a guided kayak tour to see Expedition Africa's rhinos and lemurs from the water.

The year-round facility features exhibits with red pandas, primates, hippos, penguins and more, plus a 4D movie theater, a carousel and a railroad, among other amenities. The zoo's naturalistic habitats range from an African savanna to rainforests for South American creatures to a sand-floored barn where zookeepers bury food and toys for elephants.

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(Source: www.cjonline.com)

Board the monorail for a guided Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari past a waterfall and five exhibits that are not otherwise accessible. Or, participate in an evening Family Safari Night Hike, which is available on select days and costs $20 per person for visitors ages 5 and older.

For 60 years, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has grown from a brewery and bird park to a major fixture encompassing thrill rides, live shows, animal exhibits and expert veterinary care. At this Tampa attraction, travelers have access to an array of animal encounters, including the 30-minute Serengeti Safari, which allows visitors 5 and older to hand-feed giraffes from open-air vehicles.

Fans of “The Wildlife Docs” series on The CW won't want to miss the 45-minute Animal Care Center walking tour. This $29 per person experience includes watching park animals receive wellness exams and interacting with the zoo's veterinarians.

The Wilds were founded in 1984 when the Central Ohio Coal Company gifted nearly 10,000 acres of surface-mined land to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Zookeeper and TV host Jack Hanna helped develop the plot of land roughly 75 miles southeast of downtown Columbus into a large educational preserve that complements the main zoo.

Adults can prolong their stays by reserving private yurts at the Nomad Ridge camp, where binoculars are available to watch passing animals like rhinos and red-tailed hawks. In the Louisiana Swamp exhibit, visitors will learn how Cajuns used Native American conservation techniques to create a unique culture and cuisine in a swampy environment.

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The petting zoo gives little ones the chance to interact with zebus (miniature cows) and giant Algebra tortoises in an African farm setting, while the five-story treehouse at Monkey Hill (New Orleans tallest point) is a great place to burn off some energy. While exploring this Rapid City attraction from late April through November, you may encounter black bears crossing the road and mountain lions, buffaloes, elk and reindeer roaming in fields.

Before leaving, stretch your legs in the Wildlife Walk area, which features a gift shop and is lined with educational exhibits about foxes, skunks and other small mammals. Native California desert plants line well-marked hiking trails that overlook Eisenhower Peak and the Coachella Valley, while African baobabs, triangle palms and elephant trees grow in the Madagascar Garden.

The zoo also offers educational camel rides, reptile encounters and an endangered species-themed carousel, though some amenities and activities are only available during select months. Big Cat Crossing, one of five Zoo360 trails, features an overhead mesh bridge for lions, pumas, jaguars and more.

Standard admission costs $28 to $37 per person and includes entry to the walk-through Safari World amusement park, with animal presentations, bird and giraffe feedings, a petting zoo, a water playground and more. And if you don't feel like trekking 21 miles east to a hotel in central West Palm Beach, you can pitch a tent at the on-site GOA campground.

Designated areas include an Alaska-inspired region with everything from brown bears to porcupines, a water-filled habitat for Peruvian penguins and a tropical rainforest where jaguars live alongside frogs and birds. At the city's Safari West nature preserve, which sits less than 28 miles northwest of Sonoma, visitors can get an up-close look at nearly 1,000 animals from 90-plus species.

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(Source: www.zoos.mono.net)

The nearly 100-acre Tucson facility uses invisible fencing in animal habitats, including those for endangered species like Mexican gray wolves and thick-billed parrots. At this wildlife park in downtown Indianapolis, visitors can interact with approximately 1,400 animals while exploring the gardenlike setting and attending a number of special events.

Can't-miss exhibits include Oceans (an aquatic area with an underwater dolphin-viewing dome) and the Simon Skoda International Orangutan Center. Travelers can watch native Alaskan creatures like rare snow leopards, moose and other Arctic species roam the wooded, hilly landscape of Anchorage.

On a chilly Midwestern day, visitors can stay warm while observing otters, monkeys and more in the zoo's Tropical World area. Travelers can also head to the Living Coast exhibit to check out aquatic animals like sharks and Humboldt penguins.

As part of the nonprofit Chicago Zoological Society, the zoo uses a portion of entrance fees to support various global conservation projects, including youth leadership training in Botswana and dolphin tagging in Brazil. The zoo's busy social calendar includes various conservation fundraisers, such as Pints for Pangolins, Wine for Rhinos and Beers for Bears.

Another must-visit exhibit is The Edge, where you can see Amur tigers walking across overhead bridges and from a viewing area with a perforated wall. Visitors can use an animal map to navigate the park's dirt roads on foot or ride the complimentary shuttle, which stops in four areas.

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(Source: www.destination360.com)

Watch zookeepers prepare special diets, get an up-close look at various critters (during select months) or explore the Enrichment Playground, which is filled with toys similar to those used by the property's animals. You'll find the action-packed Hermann Memorial Park, where the zoo resides, easy to reach by Eurorail's Red Line from downtown Houston.

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