What better way is there to spend a day than at one of the best zoos in America? From enormous animals to amazing exhibits, these zoos have something for everyone. As you’ll discover, the US has some pretty impressive zoo scenes. They’re all located near major cities or close enough to make it easy on road trips.
1. San Antonio Zoo, San Antonio, TX
The San Antonio Zoo sits on the banks of the Guadalupe River in the southern part of town. It has animals that are common to Texas and some unique to this zoo.
One thing that sets it apart is the dunes area where you can view a large herd of camels, horses and llamas, which roam free. Children love these animals because they let them get so close that they can put their arms around them.
2. Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia, PA
The Philadelphia Zoo is the largest zoo in Pennsylvania. It also has some of the finest natural habitats in any American zoo. They have more than 2,600 animals representing over 240 species from all over the world. The zoo’s annual attendance exceeds 2 million visitors.
The zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Safari Sam program gives kids a chance to touch and feed exotic wild animals who roam free without cages.
3. The Central Park Zoo, New York, NY
This zoo is the oldest and largest of its kind in the world. Opened in 1874, it is one of the original zoos to join the AZA. The zoo was given royal status by Queen Victoria of England and bears this royal name to this day.
The Central Park Zoo‘s African elephants (the largest species of elephants on Earth) are located in an outdoor paddock that provides a more naturalistic setting for viewing them as they would be found in their range.
4. Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL
One of the oldest and largest zoos in the country, the Brookfield Zoo is home to a variety of animals from all around the world including red pandas, koalas and cheetahs. The zoo also has an African Savanna exhibit that contains a variety of rare and endangered species including white rhinos, African elephants and black rhinos. The highlight for children is KidZone where they can see some unusual animals up close in a safe environment.
5. Bronx Zoo, Bronx, NY
The Bronx Zoo is the fifth largest zoo in the United States. Located on a 2,000-acre forested site in New York City, this zoo is a favorite of many families. The zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals representing over 1,300 species of animals from all over the world. It also has 200 acres of outdoor wild animal habitats and one of the only zoos to successfully breed critically endangered red wolves.
6. Oakland Zoo, Oakland, CA
Oakland Zoo is home to more than 3,000 animals representing over 1,200 species of animals from all over the world. The zoo also has a hands-on critter corner where children can explore animals in an interactive way.
7. St. Louis Zoo, Forest Park, MO
The St. Louis Zoo is located on the western edge of Forest Park, the largest urban park in the United States. It was the first zoo in the U.S. to house animals in recreated natural habitats instead of cages. The St. Louis Zoo is also home to many endangered and threatened species including red pandas and snow leopards.
8. Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, WA
The Woodland Park Zoo is a 104-acre zoo located in Seattle, Washington along the shores of Lake Washington on top of a basalt cliff that overlooks Puget Sound. It is one of the most well-known and popular zoos in the country.
The Woodland Park Zoo is home to over 2,000 animals representing over 200 species. The zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It offers a variety of activities, including animal presentations, live animal cams, videos of animal encounters and behind-the-scenes tours.
9. Zoo Miami, Miami, FL
The Zoo Miami is a family-friendly zoo located on 400 acres of natural savanna in south Florida. It is the largest zoo in the state of Florida and has something for everyone, from animals to recreational activities like golf and excursions.
The zoo is home to more than 5,000 animals representing over 3,700 species from all over the world. Some favorites include tropical habitat where you can view gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans.
10. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha, NE
The Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is the first zoo in the nation to be recognized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). It was also named one of “America’s Top 100 Family Attractions” by AAA. The zoo is located on 1,921 acres in eastern Nebraska and has more than 4,000 animals representing over 2,000 species. Many of these animals are endangered or have unique characteristics or behaviors.
The zoo is host to a number of exhibits, including Islands of the World, which features primarily oceanic animals, and the African Grasslands exhibit, which contains a variety of large animals. There is also an exhibit for children called Imagination Station that lets them interact with some unusual creatures like snakes and tarantulas.
11. Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines, IA
Blank Park Zoo is a combination zoo and amusement park located in Des Moines. The zoo was created to show how humans interact with nature. The park’s animal collection is home to a total of more than 2,000 animals representing over 400 species from all over the world.
The zoo has nearly 1,200 acres of natural habitat in which the animals can roam freely and are fed twice a day. There are also many activities including pony rides, nature trails and other programs for children.
12. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Powell, OH
The Columbus Zoo is home to more than 5,000 animals representing over 800 species. The zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for maintaining the highest standards of animal care, education and conservation.
The Columbus Zoo has won several awards from organizations including Parents Magazine, American Institute of Architects and National Association for Interpretation. The zoo is also home to a number of endangered species including Malayan tigers and Komodo dragons.
13. San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, San Diego, CA
The San Diego Zoo is a popular tourist attraction located in Balboa Park. The zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and has won the AZA’s award for outstanding exhibit design more than once.
The zoo contains over 3,700 animals representing more than 700 species. The zoo specializes in captive breeding including Mexican wolves, snow leopards and giant pandas. The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park is home to the largest collection of rare animals in the world.
Animal encounters are a favorite part of the San Diego Zoo for many children. Each summer, kids can take a cruise on Red Tail Lake, swim with dolphins or feed giraffes at the zoo.
14. Sierra Safari Zoo, Tollhouse, CA
If you’re looking for an unusual experience, consider visiting Sierra Safari Zoo in Tollhouse Calif. The Sierra Safari Zoo is home to more than 1,800 animals representing nearly 400 species.
The Sierra Safari Zoo focuses on providing a quality education experience for the whole family. It is also one of the few zoos in the country to have snow leopards and white Bengal tigers.
15. Denver Zoo, Denver, CO
The Denver Zoo is a family-friendly zoo located in Denver, Colorado. It is home to more than 3,000 animals representing over 700 species. The zoo is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and was one of the first zoos to be built in the United States.
Denver Zoo has a variety of exhibits from English gardens to mountain meadows that children can explore with their families including a toddler playground, hands-on science and discovery center and family petting zoo.
16. Fort Worth Zoo, TX
The Fort Worth Zoo is a 168-acre zoo located in Fort Worth, Texas. It has been ranked as one of the top zoos in the United States by Parents magazine and USA Today. The zoo is home to more than 5,000 animals representing over 500 species.
The Fort Worth Zoo has a number of different habitats including an Asian elephant habitat which allows you to get close to these large creatures in a safe setting.
17. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, CO
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a family-friendly zoo located in Colorado Springs, Colo. The zoo was started in 1959 and is home to more than 1,300 animals representing over 250 species.
The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has been recognized by a number of organizations for its dedication to educating the public including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Association of Family Entertainment Centers.
18. Brevard Zoo, Melbourne, FL
The Brevard Zoo is a family-friendly zoo located in Melbourne, Fl. It is the only zoo in Florida and was founded in 1954 by a group of volunteers. The zoo has more than 1,500 animals representing over 300 species.
The Brevard Zoo has several ponds for kids to explore including an artificial pond and an African savanna that’s home to tons of animals including giraffes, elephants and lions.
19. Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, MO
The Saint Louis Zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals representing over 1,300 species. The Saint Louis Zoo is one of the few zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
The zoo has several educational activities for children including a petting zoo, science lab and animal shows. The St. Louis Zoo also has a Safari Pass which lets you enter the animal enclosures for up to an hour at several participating zoos across the country.
20. Audubon Zoo, New Orleans, LA
Audubon Zoo is a Louisiana-themed zoo located in New Orleans, La. The zoo was founded in 1899 but was closed during the Civil War. In 1967 it reopened and currently boasts more than 2,500 animals representing over 700 species.
The Audubon Zoo has several animal exhibits including seal pools, a flamingo habitat and an aerial tram that visitors can ride for a better view of animals on the island. There are also many hands-on activities for children including animal feedings and crafts.
21. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Palm Desert, CA
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a California-themed zoo located in Palm Desert. It was founded by the husband and wife team of Phil and Sarah Becton in 1995. The zoo is home to more than 1,200 animals representing over 250 different species.
The Living Desert Zoo focuses on endangered species and many of its exhibits are dedicated to wildlife that has disappeared from desert regions such as the Southwest. The zoo has also been recognized for its innovations in conservation methods including breeding techniques and breeding research studies.
22. Alaska Zoo, Anchorage, Alaska
The Alaska Zoo is an Alaska-themed zoo located in Anchorage, Alaska. The zoo was officially opened in 1971 and has more than 1,500 animals representing over 450 species.
The Alaska Zoo focuses on animals that actually live in the wilderness such as wolf packs and moose. There are also penguins, polar bears and tigers at the zoo. The zoo also has a geoducks exhibit where they you can learn more about these giant clams.
23. Bear Country USA, Williams, CA
Bear Country USA is a bear-themed zoo located in Williams, California. It has been ranked as one of the top zoos in the country by Parents magazine. The zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals representing over 200 species.
The Bear Country Zoo focuses on animals that live in colder climates such as polar bears and grizzlies. There are also many other animals that live in warmer areas including zebras and camels.
24. Indianapolis Zoo, Indianapolis, IN
The Indianapolis Zoo is a family-friendly zoo located in Indianapolis, Indiana. It has been rated as one of the top zoos in the United States by Parents magazine and USA Today. The zoo is home to more than 3,100 animals representing nearly 1,000 species.
The Indianapolis Zoo is home to a number of different habitats including an African savanna exhibit which gives you a rare chance to see animals like black rhinos in their natural habitat.
25. Lion Country Safari, West Palm Beach, FL
The Lion Country Safari is a Florida-themed zoo located in West Palm Beach, Fl. It features a number of different habitats from rainforest to grassland to wetlands and boasts more than 1,000 animals representing over 500 species.
Zoo visitors can also visit the safari railway which provides an opportunity to see animals like African lions in a natural setting. The zoo has been recognized for its innovative conservation efforts focusing on breeding programs and research studies.
26. Memphis Zoo, Memphis, TN
The Memphis Zoo is a Tennessee-themed zoo located in Memphis, Tenn. It was founded in 1893 and was originally known as the Eastland Park Zoo. The zoo focuses on animals that live in the Southern United States including alligators and cheetahs.
The Memphis Zoo has various habitats including an African savanna exhibit which lets you see many different types of animals such as zebras, giraffes and elephants. There are also several ponds where you can have fun feeding animals like flamingos and ducks.
27. Houston Zoo, Houston, TX
The Houston Zoo is a Texas-themed zoo located in Houston, Texas. The zoo was founded in 1923 and has more than 1,000 animals representing over 400 species. The zoo also has a Safari Pass that gives visitors access to select animal enclosures across the country.
The Houston Zoo features various habitats from an aquarium to habitats that let you see animals like primates and bears. There are also several hands-on activities for kids including petting pools for goats and sheep.
28. Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Syracuse, NY
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is a New York-themed Zoo located in Syracuse, N.Y. It has been named one of the top zoos by Parents magazine and USA Today. The zoo is home to more than 650 animals representing more than 150 species.
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo focuses on a number of endangered animals including the Burmese tiger and the Asiatic black bear. The zoo also has several ponds where you can feed ducks and sea lions.
29. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Cincinnati, OH
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a zoo located in Cincinnati, Ohio. It has been recognized as one of the zoos on USA Today’s “10 Best Zoos” list and ranked by Parents magazine as one of the top zoos in the country. The zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals representing over 600 species.
The Cincinnati Zoo has several different habitats including a South African exhibit where you can see black rhinos and cheetahs.
30. Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C.
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park is a zoo located in Washington, D.C. The zoo was founded in 1888 and has been recognized as one of the top zoos in the country by Parents magazine and USA Today. The zoo has more than 5,000 animals representing nearly 400 species.
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park features a variety of different habitats including an African savanna exhibit where you can see animals like giraffes and zebras among many other species.
What are the best zoos to visit in the United States? The United States is home to a number of amazing zoos that offer visitors unique educational as well as entertaining experiences. Some American zoos are themed based on a particular region of the world while others are known to focus on specific species. Some of these zoos also specialize in endangered species and have dedicated exhibits for them.
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