Best Zoo New England

Ava Flores
• Friday, 25 December, 2020
• 8 min read

3.8 New England Aquarium is home to a 760,000 liter (200,000 gallon) tank simulating a Caribbean coral reef. 4.3 Open since 1872, Roger Williams Park Zoo is home to more than 100 species of rare animals.

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We also watched a documentary film on penguins, in which a pair of older birds, said to have been together their entire lives held “hands.” We were hooked. I left the bumper sticker on for a few days, eyeing it sideways with a sad timidness, then furiously tried to peel if off.

When it didn’t come off in one piece, this was followed by aggressive scrapping, and the removal eased by my tears as they fell on the bumper and loosened the adhesive. The point is, the aquarium gave me and my former love a fairy-tale experience, from simply allowing us to hold hands in their hallway to the inspiring documentary to that special adoption gift certificate.

With over 300 animals to boast of (primarily North and South American species), this zoo is one of the state’s top family attractions. So stop by the Peacock Café for some hot food or enjoy an outdoor lunch in the Picnic Grove.

Roger Williams Park Zoo should be a bucket list destination for both Rhode Islanders and day trippers alike. Animals are zoned geographically with others that they would be alongside in the wild; elephants, giraffes and cheetahs can be found in the Africa section, while red pandas and snow leopards are in the Marco Polo area.

A new Faces of the Rainforest exhibit showcases howler and Tito monkeys, river otters, toucans and flamingos, many of whom can fly and roam free in a brand-new building with a 40-foot glass atrium. Kids of all ages will love petting goats at the Farmyard, while the younger children can climb onto a camel’s back for a ride around the ring.

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While you’re at one of the very bestNewEngland zoos, also be sure to explore Roger Williams Park, home to a Victorian-style carousel, a botanical garden and concerts and food truck festivals during the warmer months. There’s a tropical forest in Boston at the Franklin Park Zoo, where you’ll feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the cit.

Like the Roger Williams Park Zoo, the Franklin Park Zoo is also broken down into sections based on native geographic regions, which include a Bird’s World, featuring flamingos and keys, the Serengeti Crossing and Franklin Farm, home to farm animals. Franklin Park hosts a range of educational programs, including meet and greets with zookeepers.

Featured animals include the American alligator, Mexican gray wolf and Brazilian porcupine. Visitors in the summer months can attend the “Masters of Flight: Birds of Prey” show featuring birds flying over the heads of the audience members, and children can enjoy pint-sized attractions like the children’s train and jungle fun ride.

The “habitat” at Butterfly Place emulates the insects’ natural environment, and you’ll find them flying among and even landing on you and your family members. Visitors can also meet caterpillars and observe cocoons, as well as watch an educational video about their new fluttering friends.

South wick’s Zoo prides itself on being what it claims is the largest NewEnglandzoo, home to 200 acres of exhibits and 850 animals. Kids will love meeting the goats and alpacas at the park’s petting zoo, and can learn more about their favored animals at the Earth Discovery Center.

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(Source: www.onlyinyourstate.com)

There are also live sea lion shows, and visitors can book an animal encounter with whales, penguins, stingrays and seals. Just outside of New York City and easily accessible by Metro North, the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is a great destination for a New England day trip.

Exhibits and displays feature local animals including harbor seals, lobsters and mollusks. The aquarium also has an IMAX documentary theater and offers Long Island exploratory and educational adventures on its hybrid sea vessel.

The aquarium features various other displays as well, including ones highlighting penguins and harbor seals, as well as a touch tank where kids can meet sharks and rays. The aquarium is also home to an IMAX theater, featuring educational videos in 3-D, and offers whale watches in partnership with Boston Harbor Cruises.

ECHO’s mission is focused on educating children and their families about marine life, especially species in nearby Lake Champlain. The aquarium is a necessary stop if you’re on a New England day trip to the Lake Champlain region, and a perfect destination for an afternoon of educational entertainment with the kids.

A visit to one of our many New England zoos is a great way to spend a Saturday, and makes an excellent field trip for children. Beardsley Zoo | Bridgeport, CT Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport is home to a red panda, an Amazon tree boa, an Amur leopard, a giant anteater, and Madagascar hissing cockroaches, among others.

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(Source: www.dayoutwiththekids.co.uk)

Enjoy a lunch outdoors in the Picnic Grove or at the Peacock Café, and don’t forget to take a spin on the carousel. Have some fun on the train or take a ride on the swings before heading off to the animal exhibits.

A Bengal tiger, prairie dogs, and spider monkeys (among others), call York’s Wild Kingdom Zoo home. The Franklin Park Zoo features dozens of animal exhibits including zebras, ocelots, and spotted hyenas.

After learning about the different animals, where they’re from, and what you can do to help protect them, go on a camel trek or take a Safari Jeep Ride! Check their events calendar for fun seasonal activities like an annual pumpkin festival and horse-drawn wagon rides to meet Santa.

Roger Williams Park Zoo | Providence, RI Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence houses a great variety of animals, including American bison, African wild dogs, and timber rattlesnakes. While you’re there, get up close and personal with the animals by feeding the giraffes or taking a tour of the seal enclosure.

ECHO Leah Center for Lake Champlain | Burlington, VT The closest thing to a zoo in Vermont might be the ECHO Leah Center for Lake Champlain in Burlington. Animal exhibits feature creatures such as the fresh water drum fish, the poison dart frog, and the mud puppy.

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(Source: www.departures.com)

It's almost like visiting the zoo was a rite of passage into an official New England summer school vacation. Going to the zoo in the summer does seem like part of our DNA, as if we were inherently wired to enjoy the animal displays and exhibits. There's indeed a timeless and joyful quality to this wonderful type of tourist attraction.

Many 21st century zoos in New England have either maintained their excellence or significantly improved what was already a good thing -- here are some of our personal favorites: What was a working farm in 1803 and a very mediocre zoo for many years during our youth has turned into, arguably, the best of its kind in New England.

What was once childhood conversation about the disappointment of South wick's has transformed into “Can't say enough good things about this zoo !” The 430-acre Roger Williams Park Zoo features around 160 species of 900 animals -- as well as a children's farmyard, carousel and playground -- in an exceptionally well-maintained, landscaped facility in one of NewEngland's great cities.

Exhibit includes the “Fabric of Africa” safari with animals indigenous to the area; “North America,” highlighting creatures of our land; “Tropical America,” a dense, lush “rain forest” featuring a canopy sky-walk; Australasia, focusing on creates in the land “down under”; the Marco Polo Trail centering on animals that explorer Marco Polo might have found back in the day; and the Feinstein Junior Scholar Wetlands Trail -- a quarter-mile stroll through “Rhode Island's most endangered habitat. This includes great blue herons, Canada geese, wood ducks and turtles.

Lions, tigers and bears mix with some more unusual animals like the two toed sloth, Patagonian Navy, Capybaras, African Crested Porcupine and Paths Monkey -- as well as a terrific aviary with a great variety of birds. What could have been a zoo created as an afterthought to the amusement park is, in reality, an animal destination that holds up quite well on its own.

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(Source: www.youtube.com)

With a clean environment and a set-up that allows animals to roam more than in a typically larger zoo, Apron's spacious displays belt the limited square footage of the zoo -- you feel like the place is much bigger than it is. Some display highlights: The African lion, North American river otters, snow leopards, sloth bears, Japanese macaques, markets, red kangaroos, red-crowned cranes and a great Rain Forest exhibit.

If you want exotic species, you will enjoy the capybara or the scimitar-horned onyx, or you can check out the familiar favorites like the Bengal tiger or the cheetah. Combo tickets are $36 for adults and children and include admission to the Sky Ride, the Woodland Express Train and the Rainforest Adventure Maze.

Then you’ll love its sister, Stone Zoo, just a half hour from Boston. Stone Zoo offers a variety of attractions, like the Gila monster, snow leopard, or colobus monkey.

Smaller kids will love the Jungle Fun Ride and the Children’s Train. Holiday visitors won’t want to miss the popular annual light display, Taillights.

Animals at Apron Park include kangaroos, alpacas, and a white lion and lionesses. Apron Park offers a number of 30-minute Conquest Adventure Tours that allow you to get up close and personal with a variety of animals: red pandas; lemurs; warty pigs, and lions and bears.

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(Source: www.nhnature.org)

Buttonwood Park Zoo is deceptively large, with more than 50 species, 250 animals and 30 exhibits. Attractions include Asian elephants, American bison, extensive birds, reptiles and fish.

Visitors to the Zoo will not only see the animals, but will also learn about how to protect wildlife and endangered species. Buttonwood Zoo is open year-round, and non-resident admission is $7.50 for adults, $4.50 for kids 3–12, and free for children under three, with a less expensive rate for New Bedford residents.

Zoo attractions include a Bengal tiger, wallabies, and American alligators. Amusements feature a mini-golf course, batting cages and an arcade, in addition to bumper boats, the Jungle Fun house, and a Ferris wheel, among numerous other options.

Whether it’s Franklin Park’s sister zoo in Stone ham or York’s Wild Kingdom in Maine, there is an option for you within day-trip distance, offering entrance to another world of miraculous and mysterious creatures not normally seen around Boston.

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