American zoos attract more annual visitors than all the country's major spectator sports combined! The huge fangs and claws offered by the big cat and feline exhibits reach deep into us, waking something almost primal within our being.
Below you will find information on each of the ten best big cat zoos in the United States. I have provided websites and phone numbers for each of them, along with snippets about their exotic cat exhibits.
The zoo has also long been a leader in the field of breeding endangered species. Mesh-covered outdoor enclosures surround the building, and each indoor habitat features naturalistic rock work and beautiful mural backdrops that portray the cats native homes.
You will find a long, raised platform that weaves through Siegfried & Roy's White Lions of Amravati. While a population of white tigers was recently discovered in South Africa, Cincinnati's lions are from the private collection of the Vegas entertainers, Siegfried and Roy.
The lions have plenty of room in this expansive exhibit, but more often than not, they can be found resting on a set of tiered wooden platforms. Memphis is named after an ancient city in Egypt, and its Zoo commemorates this connection with its beautiful Egyptian-style entrance complex.
You can find many photo-worthy sights within the tributes to China, North America's Pacific Northwest, and Indonesia. Cat Country exhibits ten different felines from three continents, usually opposite their natural prey.
While lions may not be able to purr or run 60+ mph like the cheetah, when it comes to the world of big cats, the king of beasts does have the final roar! While this gives the zoo's animal residents acres of room to roam and enjoy, visitors might find it difficult to make it through the enormous place in a single day.
Set in beautiful Emigration Canyon on Salt Lake City's east side, the zoo's background consists of scenic mountains and the canyon, so the photographs taken there are particularly great and have a natural feel. Amur's tigers, snow leopards, Amur leopards, Dallas' cats, and Siberian lynxes are all cats from the Himalayan region, and since Salt Lake City has the same seasonal climate as their homeland, they're part of a year-round exhibit.
The big cats (tigers and leopards) have huge and spacious rocky hillside habitats, with large, cascading waterfalls, small evergreen trees, and naturalistic log dens. Unlike dogs, cats can move their digits independently and 'preform' their grip before they strike.
The cheetah exhibit is large enough for the sleek cats to show off their breathtaking speed, not a sight everyone gets to see in person! The Henry Poorly Zoo has a knack for creating exhibits that become the biggest and the best of their kind.
In the newer exhibits, a serious effort is made to put as little separation as possible between the animals and visitors. This type of attention to visual detail got the zoo included in the popular book, 1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. and Canada Before You Die.
It is no wonder why Henry Poorly Zoo is the most-visited tourist attraction between Chicago and Denver! With 37,000 square feet of interior space, the Cat Complex is the largest feline enclosure in North America, and while the structure might be aging, its collection remains impressive.
Amur, Malaysian, and both orange and white Bengal tigers are found in this indoor/outdoor exhibit. The Philadelphia Zoo was chartered in 1859, although the Civil War delayed the opening until 1859.
Reminders of the zoo's illustrious history remain and can be seen throughout the park in its nineteenth-century Victorian buildings, animal sculptures, statues, and fountains. Currently, it maintains a delicate balance between preserving its history and providing the most modern and naturalistic habitats for its impressive animal collection.
The zoo displays lions, tigers, pumas, a black jaguar (an utterly beautiful creature), and both Amur and snow leopards. The heated pools in the jaguar and tiger yards encourage these water-loving big cats to take a dip year round.
The white lions are very popular with visitors, and can often be seen lounging near a row of termite mounds. The Rio Grande Zoo, which is only one part of the Albuquerque Biological Park, offers magnificent rock work, dazzling waterfalls, pueblo-style buildings, and animal sculptures surrounded by attractive exhibits.
Cat Forest displays nine feline species in four acres of spacious, naturalistic environments. Jaguars, ocelots, and serials each have tiered, net-covered habitats outside the Small Cat building.
Bordering Zoo Lake, the outdoor enclosure for the secretive snow leopards can be viewed through thick trees from two sides. Since 1896, when the zoo opened, its Bear Mountain has remained the nation's oldest naturalistic, bar-less exhibit.
Like its home state, the zoo is full of beautiful, wide open spaces. This is the most popular zoo between California and Chicago, attracting more than 1.7 million guests annually.
A portion of Hamburg National Park in Kenya is re-created here, perfectly landscaped to look like a Skopje. Spotted hyenas, wild dogs, and two prides of lions rotate through each other's habitats.
The variety of scenery and scents of the other occupants who have passed through provide important mental stimulation for these intelligent carnivores. Another habitat is set aside for the mothers and baby lion cubs and is easily viewed by visitors.
Real fascinating and interesting to know about Cincinnati Zoo ranked #1 on your list. Incredible hub on the Top Ten Big Cat Zoos In The U.S.
I know a lot of people think zoos are bad, but I can't help but love the opportunity to see different animals in real life. I used to live within walking distance of the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.
Pbody5205~The old school big cat house at Lincoln Park Zoo has not been one I have enjoyed. People love the idea of looking at majestic members of the cat family and that is why they crowd the animal parks across the country.
The reason that many visitors are attracted to American zoos is also additionally due to the spectator sports that take place. The collection of cats is in a huge naturalistic habitat with serials, ocelots and jaguars have net covered place, While inside are the Caracas lynx, the black footed cats.
In the outside enclosure are the snow leopards and there is one more exhibit that has Sumatran tigers, fishing cats and a Lion overlook. Presenting her thoughts and facts in bewildering and astonishing way is her cup of tea.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.