With about 300 officially recognized zoos in the United States, it is tricky to decide what are the best zoos given that America offers a wide range of animal-focused attractions for you to choose from.
Some of these may be a total surprise to you, and others you may have heard of before. If going to the zoo is one of your favorite things to do, you’ll find many great options across the country.
We scanned hundreds of reviews and we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best zoos in the US that we also love. You might even plan your next vacation around one of these top 10 zoos.
1. Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Consistently ranked one of the world’s best zoos, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is the ultimate interactive zoo experience and a biological park leading the nation’s conservation efforts.
Well liked for: This world-class zoo is famous for its involvement with breeding endangered species from around the world
Animal counts: 30,000-plus animals
Popular exhibits: Lozier IMAX Theater, Scott Aquarium, Berniece Grewcock Butterfly and Insect Pavilion, Durham's Bear Canyonn, Hubbard Orangutan Forest and Gorilla Valley and more
Popular with kids: Family Sleeping Bag Safaris are overnight programs where guests spend the night at the Zoo to experience exhibits after-hours. Program include educational programs, paid admission, overnight stay, evening hike, conservation games, evening snack, movie, breakfast, morning hike, and free day at the Zoo
Animal Encounters: Giraffe encounters, come hand to fin with cownose, Southern and Atlantic stingrays, experience small birds flying overhead or from the palm of your hand, and many more
2. Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
This second oldest zoo in the U.S., contemplated as one of the best in the country, is most acclaimed for its endangered species and birthing programs, particularly for gorillas and white tigers, and has a remarkable collection of felines and manatees exhibit.
Well liked for: Most of the black rhinoceroses, white Bengal tigers, and lowland gorillas currently in captivity were born at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden - giving them the “world's sexiest zoo" title
Animal and plant counts: Has more than 500 animal species and over 3,000 plant varieties
Popular exhibits: Fiona the hippopotamus, the first hippo born at the zoo in 75 years, Elephant House and Reptile House.
Popular with kids: Family overnights in the middle of the zoo where you will get to take a night hike, participate in fun, educational activities, get a peek at some of the zoo’s behind-the-scenes areas, and meet some of our animal ambassadors up close and personal
Animal Encounters: You can go near some of the zoo’s animals, including llamas, baby miniature cows, and alpacas. You can visit the Spaulding Children’s Zoo petting yard, animal nursery, and playground
3. San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo first brought the concept of cageless and open-air exhibits that provides a natural animal habitats. One of the few zoos that successfully bred the giant panda, however the pandas are now back to their homeland in China.
Well liked for: A guided tour bus that traverses most of the park, an overhead lift called the Skyfari, providing an aerial view of the zoo. They also displays animals in a more open setting than any other zoos
Animal counts: Home of more than 3,700 animals across 800 plus species
Popular exhibits: The Inside Look Tour is a two-hour entertaining and educational adventure offering guided views and interesting information about how they take care of their animals. See exotic cats climb and jump, a 60-minute guided tour of the Zoo and many more.
Popular with kids: Summer Camp adventures at the Zoo, wild night for kids at the Zoo, and Summer Camp adventures.
Animal Encounters: Feeding giraffes and rhinos
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