Animals, especially exotic ones, bring out the little kid in all of us. No one can deny the joy and excitement that is associated with watching a polar bear cub dive into the icy waters or a chimpanzee swing high above your head. The great thing about zoos is that they enable us to witness these great acts of nature and many more, without putting ourselves or our little ones at risk.
With so many different species of animals on this planet, the zoo experience is a wonderful way to gain a little insight into how vast this planet really is. An afternoon spent at the zoo is easily one of the most interesting, educational, and relaxing ways to spend your day, whether you are vacationing or just looking for something to do in your own city.
There are awe-inspiring zoos all around the United States, but the ten best are as follows.
1. San Diego Zoo – San Diego, California
Boasting some of the rarest and animals in the world, the San Diego Zoo has long-served as one of the best zoos in America. A pioneer of open-air exhibits that recreate an animal’s natural habitat, zoo-goers will experience giant pandas, koalas, and a variety of animals within 10 bioclimatic zones.
2. Henry Doorly Zoo – Omaha, Nebraska
Known for its hand in breeding endangered species from all over the world, this world-class zoo is one of the finest. Family-friendly and welcoming to all ages, the Henry Doorly Zoo boasts the largest man-made jungle in the world, as well as incredible tunnel views of deep sea life and hundreds of birds in the zoo’s larger-than-life aviary.
3. Saint Louis Zoo – Saint Louis, Missouri
Established in 1910 and free for all, this world-renowned zoo has received praise for its research an conservation efforts, as well as its commitment to the protection of endangered species. Constantly adding new exhibits, kids and adults alike will love the Zooline Railroad, a miniature railroad system that allows you to experience the zoo in style.
4. Columbus Zoo – Columbus, Ohio
Under the guidance of celebrated animal-activist Jack Hanna, the Columbus Zoo has become one of America’s favorites. Home to more than 9,000 animals, the zoo also has an amusement park, water park, and golf resort. Offering wildlife exhibits from 8 regions throughout the world, the Columbus Zoo is a leader in conservation efforts and its animals are often featured on TV appeared by Hanna.
5. Bronx Zoo – Bronx, New York
Spanning 265 acres, the Bronx Zoo is one of the most impressive urban wildlife parks in America. The zoo is committed to conservation efforts and this is shown throughout its many jaw-dropping exhibits. Highly educational and focused on recreating the natural habitat for all its animals, the quality of this zoo is insurmountable. Popular exhibits include Jungleworld, Tiger Mountain, Baboon Reserve, and Himalayan Highlands.
6. Phoenix Zoo -Phoenix, Arizona
Internationally praised and home to species of animals you didn’t even know existed, the Phoenix Zoo is a must-see. Voted as one of the top 5 zoos for kiddos, popular exhibits of this unexpected desert attraction include baboons in the African savannah and Galapagos tortoises residing in the Central and South America exhibit. There is also a safari train tour and petting zoo, perfect for when your kids start to get tuckered out.
7. Memphis Zoo – Memphis, Tennessee
With more than 3,500 animals and 500 species, the Memphis Zoo is home to one-of-a-kind exhibits and encompasses 70 acres. Constantly expanding and improving, one of the zoo’s most prized inhabitants are YaYa and LeLe, the ever-popular giant pandas. Because of its small size, this zoo is perfect for little kids to navigate and enjoy without getting fussy.
8. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo – Colorado Springs, Colorado
At 6,800 feet, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the highest in the nation and home to one of the most beautiful natural settings. One of the highlights this medium-sized park is the giraffes, as the zoo relies less on cages and boasts a more open-air vibe. Other attractions include feeding the elephants, holding a python, and the one-of-a-kind Moonlight Safari, giving you a glimpse into night life of the animals.
9. Brevard Zoo – Melbourne, Florida
With roughly 650 animals representing 165 species, Brevard Zoo is on the smaller side, but don’t let that dissuade you from experiencing this gem. One of the neatest attractions is the 22-acre wetlands, a natural habitat that you can kayak around, getting the real wildlife experience. Brevard Zoo is home to giraffes, white rhinos, red kangaroos, cheetahs, siamang gibbons, and river otters, to name a few. You can feed the giraffes or get up close with wildlife at the petting area, offering a memorable experience for all ages.
10. Minnesota Zoo – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Located on 485 acres, the Minnesota Zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals as well as an IMAX Theatre. One of the most unique features of the zoo is the Minnesota Trail exhibit, which showcases roughly 60 species native to the state. In addition to well-reputed conservation efforts and some of the most exotic animals in the word, the Minnesota Zoo is also home to the best outdoor music venue in the area, providing yet another means to experience all the zoo has to offer.
While all zoos offer us the chance to either introduce our kids to some of the great wonders of the animal kingdom, or serve as a reminder to our adult selves of all the wildlife that is out there, every zoo has something different to offer.
Many of the best zoos in America are home to some of the most exotic, rare species on our wonderful planet, whereas some zoos focus on mammals in a particular climate, such as the rainforest. Many zoos cater to the little ones, offering petting zoos (don’t worry, you won’t be greeted with a lion or jaguar) and train rides through the park that provide a more manageable experience for your tykes.