In 2014 the giraffes returned to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's new Heart of Africa exhibit that also includes lions, cheetahs, ostriches, wildebeests, gazelles to name a few of the 130 animals grazing the plains of Delaware County. In the mid 1900s the Zoological park came under the direction of the Cleveland Metro parks and since then has grown rapidly with new exhibits and new wildlife with the most recent addition the African Elephant Crossing.
Today the Cincinnati Zoo is deeply involved in breeding endangered animals specifically for their preservation. The Akron Zoo plays an active role in several important conservation projects through funding and exhibit space.
The Wilds are now operating together with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to provide a unique experience to southeast Ohio where a few decades ago, the land had been stripped bare for coal and other minerals. That one barren land has now been reclaimed and it doesn't take visitors to use much imagination to believe they're actually on a safari in Africa.
From its wide variety of animals and fascinating history to its special events and colorful displays, it’s no wonder our beloved zoo earned such a high spot on the list. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date.
The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is a popular day trip destination for both local and visiting families in the Buckeye State. Currently, the zoo has special COVID-19 policies in place to make your visit with the animals safe, healthy and fun.
During your visit, you'll spot the iconic Reptile House, which is the oldest operating zoo building in the nation. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this one-of-a-kind Turkish-style building has been beautifully restored over the years.
More than 100,000 tulips grace the grounds of Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens during the month of April. With more than 10 years of writing experience and a background in news reporting for Ohio newspapers, she's published pieces in multiple print and online publications.
When she's not on deadline or chasing after her toddler, she's hunting for hidden gems in Ohio or getting lost in a good book. 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. If you’re still here by nighttime, be awe-inspired by the ‘Tree of Life Awakenings’ and ‘ Rivers of Light Dessert Party’.
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.
But where are the largest zoos in America, based upon total acreage, number of animals and attendance? Residing upon 265 acres a few miles northeast of Yankee Stadium, the world-renowned zoo draws more than two million visitors annually and features 4,000 animals representing more than 650 species.
Due to the size of the park, visitors may not be able to see everything in a single day without using either the Zoo Shuttle or Wild Asia Monorail. Columbus Zoo & Aquarium 4850 W. Powell Road Powell, OH 43065 (614) 645-3400 www.columbuszoo.org The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is an enormous complex that also features an 18-hole golf course, a water park and an amusement park named after America’s most famous zookeeper.
Located just north of the capital and largest city of Ohio, the Columbus Zoo has a total land area of 582 acres and is home to more than 10,000 animals from over 575 species. Although the animals are the main attraction, part of what makes this zoo known worldwide is Jack Hanna, also known as “Jungle Jack,” who served as its director for several years and has appeared on several television shows, including Good Morning America and the Late Show with David Letterman, as well his own Emmy-winning television programs.
Although there is no transportation once inside the zoo, visitors have a wealth of things to do and places to go, including Pirate Island, Congo Expedition Forest, live shows, amusement rides and several dining and shopping options. Established in 1894 as Riverview Park, the 130-acre property is home to 17,000 animals from 962 species as well as a host of world-class exhibits, amusement rides and other attractions.
Additionally, visitors can also take the Omaha Zoo Railroad, featuring a steam locomotive on weekends weather permitting. Located just minutes from the heart of downtown Columbia, the 170-acre zoo is one of the most popular family-friendly attractions in the capital city and is home to more than 1,000 animals from over 350 species.
Among the top attractions are Koala Knockout, the Aquarium Reptile Complex and African Savanna, where visitors of all ages can feed giraffes for a modest fee. Other highlights of the zoo include popular exhibits like the Polar Bear Plunge and Elephant Odyssey, as well as animal encounters, live shows and two 4-D theaters.
The African savanna is not to be missed with its giraffes, zebras and gazelles, and the sea lion shows are always a hit. It houses more than 1,100 animals representing nearly 200 species, including everything from penguins and polar bears to gorillas and big cats.
This family-friendly attraction in Chicago also boasts a popular children’s zoo, sea lion pool and birdhouse. Not only does it offer a wide range of activities for the whole family (such as face paintings like animals), but it also stands out from the rest with eco-friendly operations and natural habitats.
At Predator Ridge, listen to the roar of a lion, while Northern Shores offers the chance to watch polar bears play and Primate Panorama features the always curious orangutans. The zoo also includes the Pioneer Train for a fun ride around Flamingo Lake and Carousel Meadow.
It helps to advance conservation action and inspire caring for nature by connecting visitors with wildlife and features seven main sections, including the Primate Discovery Center, the African Region, Cat Kingdom, South America, Bear Country, Outback Trail and a great Children’s Zoo. Visitors can get up close to all sorts of other creatures too, with everything from the African hedgehog and Visayans warty pigs to rhinos, monkeys, sea lions, polar bears, penguins and tigers.
The Temperate Forest is home to red pandas and Kunekune pigs, while the Adaptations Building features animals like sloths, Indian flying foxes and markets. There are plenty of immersive experiences and special events like Brew at the Zoo for enjoying the animals with beer tastings and behind-the-scenes tours to help support conservation efforts.
That includes its beloved giant pandas as well as Asian and African elephants, gorillas, orangutans, polar bears, and tigers. Visitors can get a behind-the-scenes look at zoo life with the “Keeper for the Day” program, and ride the Safari aerial tram for a birds-eye view of all the habitats too.
It’s truly one of the best, not only featuring a highly-acclaimed aquarium that includes a 100,000-gallon coral reef tank with colorful tropical fish, but a Congo habitat housing gorillas, bonobos and mandrills as well as the Animal Encounter Village.