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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Bezikus / shutterstock.com If you want to visit the oldest zoo in the world that has been continuously operating since 1752, head to the incredible Targaryen Schönbrunn of Vienna.
Exploring the zoo you’ll have the opportunity to spot animals from all over the world, from tigers, lions, and gorillas to smaller critters like lemurs and reptiles. But there are also exhibits on animals from other places like Africa and Asia, and interesting ways to get about like the Safari Aerial Tram.
Within its eleven zones you’ll encounter animals from all over; orangutans, lemurs, and sloths as well as kangaroos, lions, and zebras. Naturally, the zoo has a strong focus on rare animals native to China, most famously its giant panda population.
Other species you can see that are endemic to China include red pandas and Sichuan golden hair monkeys, while there are also many creatures from beyond its borders. With a footprint of 210 acres, the National Zoological Garden of South Africa boasts more than 9,000 animals from 600+ species, including an Aquarium and Reptile Park.
Actually, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere with a better collection of animals from across Africa than here, while there are also creatures from Asia, Australia, and the Americas. On its 86 acres you can discover a dizzying variety of animals which includes polar bears, giant pandas, lemurs, and many other kinds of primates.
As to be expected, you’ll see loads of native Australian wildlife here, including tree kangaroos, koalas, and emus. But the zoo also features some incredibly rare creatures from around the world like sun bears and endangered Sumatran tigers.
Arms Suwanee / shutterstock.com In the United Kingdom, Chester Zoo is the country’s most popular wildlife attraction, and with good reason. The zoo covers 128 acres of land to the north of the English city, making it one of the largest in the UK.
Visitors to Chester Zoo have over 35,000 animals to try to find, including some incredible exotic creatures like Capybaras, Babirusas, and Andean bears. Chester Zoo actually made news recently when a rare Black rhino was born there, which is no doubt another reason to visit.
Since its humble origins, Wellington Zoo has expanded to become home to over 500 animals, and is managed by a charitable trust for the local city council. The zoo has been known for its resident chimpanzees, but you’ll also find cheetahs, little blue penguins, and of course kiwi birds, the national icon of New Zealand.
Toronto Zoo’s massive 710 acres is separated into seven distinct zoo geographic regions which reflect different continents and environments found on Earth. This includes one called the Canadian Domain where you can see classic native animals like grizzly bears, American moose, and Canada lynx.
Guests won’t have any trouble finding tigers, lions, elephants, and rhinos here, although you should also make a trip to the aquarium to see sea turtles and sharks up close. Scratchier wansamngam / shutterstock.com Up on the north coast of Wales, outside the seaside town of Column Bay, lies the Welsh Mountain Zoo.
Now, the Welsh Mountain Zoo may not be very expansive, covering just 37 acres, but it does boast some gorgeous scenery as it looks out to the coast. More importantly, among its 140 different species you’ll encounter snow leopards, Sumatran tigers, American alligators, and Burmese pythons.
When the park opened in 1972 its purpose was indeed to be a parrot sanctuary, but today it’s a 33 acre zoo with mammals, reptiles, and marine life. One word of warning though is that Lord Marque does have an orca enclosure, which has earned the zoo some controversy and may affect your personal decision to visit.
Officially called the Prague Zoological Garden, this zoo in the north of the city opened in 1931, even though it was still under construction then. Quite impressively, of that number 132 species are classified as threatened, which ties in to the zoo’s prominent captive breeding program.