Travel - Locations
By: - at March 26, 2014

Top 15 Best Zoos Around the World

Zoos are places that allow the visitor to experience nature and see a variety of animals up close. Thousands of zoos exist worldwide that feature wildlife, such as lions, rhinos, and polar bears. The animals are exhibited in habitats that look similar to the landscape in their country of origin. Zoological studies are also conducted at zoos that are collaborated with various universities, research facilities, and conservation organizations. Staff members work at teaching visitors about the importance of wildlife safeguards and protecting natural habitats. Unfortunately, harmful hunting and poaching practices have led to the extinction of several different species.

zoo animals

In addition, a large number of animals are listed on the endangered species list. By informing the public about the dangers surrounding hunting wildlife, zoo officials and conservation agencies hope to create more awareness about certain hunting practices and how they can affect the animal population.


15)  The Singapore Zoo
As the name implies, the Singapore Zoo is located in Singapore. It was opened in 1973 and sits on 69 acres. Over 2,500 animals are housed at the zoo, which also represents more than 300 different species.

Singapore Zoo Main Gate:
Singapore Zoo Main Gate
By Drew via Wikimedia Commons

As is done at the San Diego Zoo, the Singapore Zoo houses animals in spaces that look very similar to their natural habitats. Moats and glass partitions are used to separate zoo animals from visitors.

Hamadryas Baboon Enclosure at Singapore Zoo:
Hamadryas Baboon Enclosure at Singapore Zoo
By Chensiyuan via Wikimedia Commons

The zoo showcases many exhibits and highlights two fun shows as well. "Breakfast with an Orangutan" and "Elephants at Work and Play" draw a good number of zoo guests each year. Some of the animals you’ll find at the Singapore Zoo include ring-tailed lemurs, spider monkeys, leopards, polar bears, tapirs, wolves, and flamingos. Zoo transportation is available in the form of a pony, horse, carriage, or boat.

"Elephants at Work and Play" Show:
"Elephants at Work and Play" Show
By Chensiyuan via Wikimedia Commons


14)  The Philadelphia Zoo
The Philadelphia Zoo, located, as you might suspect, in Philadelphia, has the noted distinction of being the United States' first zoo. Established in 1874, the menagerie sits on a modest 42 acres. The zoo highlights over 1,300 animals and is known for successfully breeding animals that in captivity.

Historic Philadelphia Zoo Gate:

By Jim, the Photographer via Wikimedia Commons

The Philadelphia Zoo works with various worldwide groups for the protection of animals as well as the safeguarding of their habits. Because of the zoo’s ability to breed hard-to-breed species, many of the zoo's animals are rare or endangered.

Three Elephants at the Philadelphia Zoo - Spring 2007:
Three Elephants at the Philadelphia Zoo During Spring 2007
By RegBarc via Wikimedia Commons

A children's zoo is located at the zoo as is a lake for paddle boating, and a balloon ride, and carousel. The zoo also displays many educational exhibits, all which teach visitors about animals, their habitats, and what steps can be taken to keep the animals safe.

McNeil Avian Center at the Philadelphia Zoo:
McNeil Avian Center at the Philadelphia Zoo
By Jim Capaldi via Wikimedia Commons

Several specialized exhibits are located in the Rare Animals Conservation Center, which houses unusual animals like naked mole rats, blue-eyed lemurs, and tree kangaroos. Big Cat Falls, at the zoo, features a number of species of big and wild cats, including African lions, Amur tigers, and black jaguars.

Channel 6 "Zooballoon" Flies With Passengers Above the Philadelphia Zoo:
Channel 6 "Zooballoon" Flies With Passengers Above the Philadelphia Zoo
By Jeffrey M. Vinocur via Wikimedia Commons


13)  The Welsh Mountain Zoo
Sometimes called the Colwyn Bay Zoo, the Welsh Mountain Zoo is located in Colwyn County in Wales. The zoo was opened in 1963 and covers a total of 37 acres. Home to a variety of interesting exhibits, the zoo has been working at adding animal enclosures for the past several years.

Deer Enclosure at the Welsh Mountain Zoo or Colwyn Bay Zoo:
Deer Enclosure at the Welsh Mountain Zoo or Colwyn Bay Zoo

A new tropical house for reptiles has been built as well as new alligator enclosures. Lovely tree-lined paths make park visitors feel closer to nature.

Przewalski Wild Horse:
Przewalski Wild Horse
By Denis Egan via Wikimedia Commons

One of the popular exhibits includes the Sea Lion Rock, home to California sea lions. The zoo also features snow leopards and is the home of the first Bactrian camel to be born in captivity. The Condor Haven at the zoo features Andean condors and a variety of avian species from South America. The Eurasian otter showcase is a popular exhibit too.

Sea Lions at the Welsh Mountain Zoo:
Sea Lions at the Welsh Mountain Zoo


12)  The Nogeyama Zoological Gardens
The Nogeyama Zoological Gardens is sometimes called the Yokohama Zoo because it is located in Yokohama, Japan. It is also referred to as "Zoorasia." Opened in 1951, the zoo spans over 24 acres and is home to about 1,400 animals and 100 different species. The lovely zoo is free to the public.

Nogeyama Zoological Gardens or "Zoorasia":
Nogeyama Zoological Gardens or "Zoorasia"
By Space Key via Wikimedia Commons

Some of the animals living in the zoo include Mandarin ducks, hamadryas baboons, lions, tigers, ruffed lemurs, wallabies, condors, bears, eagles, and red pandas. In fact, when you first enter the zoo, the red panda might be the first animal you see.

Red Panda at "Zoorasia":
Red Panda at "Zoorasia"

This unique marsupial is extremely popular at the zoo and the Red Panda Enclosure alone draws a large number of visitors each year. Another facility within the zoo is the Makigahara Children’s Zoo. The small animal menagerie, which opened in 1970, houses such animals, as mice, chickens, pigeons, and guinea pigs.

Clouded Leopard at the Nogeyama Zoological Gardens:
Clouded Leopard at the Nogeyama Zoological Gardens

The Nogeyama Zoological Gardens is proud to be the first zoo located in Japan to successfully house such animals as the sloth bear, the ring-tailed lemur, the clouded leopard, a giant anteater, and the Kleinmann’s tortoise. In 1972, the zoo was the second zoo in the world to successfully breed Andean condors in captivity.


11)  The Australia Zoo
Founded by the late, great, Steve Irwin (lovingly referred to as the "Crocodile Hunter") and his wife, Teri, the Australian Zoo is one zoo you will love the moment you moment enter it.

The Late Steve Irwin Performing Live at the Australia Zoo:
The Late Steve Irwin Performing Live at the Australia Zoo
Richard Giles via Wikimedia Commons

The zoo encourages visitors to participate in animal interaction, giving children and adults the chance to interact with or feed such animals as elephants, koalas, wombats, kangaroos, and snakes.

Sign Near Front Entrance of the Australia Zoo:
Sign Near Front Entrance of the Australia Zoo

In some instances, visitors can even interact with tigers. Some tourists have also fed elephants out of their hand. Other animals featured at the popular zoo include zebras, birds, crocodiles, and cheetahs. Over 1,000 animals are showcased at the Australia Zoo, which which sits on a massive 100 acres in Queensland. The zoo, which was originally opened by Steve Irwin's parents, Bob and Lyn Irwin, was once called the Beerwah Reptile Park. Bob Irwin is a noted herpetologist.

Black Parrott at the Australia Zoo - Beerwah Queensland, Australia:
Black Parrott at the Australia Zoo - Beerwah Queensland, Australia
By Cindy Andrie via Wikimedia Commons

Located next door to the Australian Animal Hospital, the zoo won the Australian Tourism Award in both 2003 and 2004.

 The Aviary at the Australian Zoo:
 The Aviary at the Australian Zoo
By Raffi Kojian via Wikimedia Commons


10)  The Wellington Zoo
The Wellington Zoo is located in Wellington, New Zealand. It was the first zoo to be built in New Zealand and stretches out over a total of 32 acres. The zoo is home to more than 500 animals, some of which are considered rare or endangered. The zoo serves as a safe haven for such animals as the miniature sun bear and the Sumatran tiger.

Historic Elephant House at the Wellington Zoo - Wellington, New Zealand:
Historic Elephant House at the Wellington Zoo - Wellington, New Zealand
By Spawn Man via Wikimedia Commons

Calling attention to the importance of conservation, the zoo is designed with enclosures that are supported by solar heat, and advocates the breeding of endangered animals.

Two Otters in the Wellington Zoo:
Two Otters in the Wellington Zoo
By Pseudopanax via Wikimedia Commons

Zoo visitors can interact with one of various animals, such as the zoo's one-legged kiwi, and can see such interesting animals as giraffes, red pandas and cheetahs up close.

Chimpanzee Stretching and Chimp Enclosure at Wellington Zoo:
Chimpanzee Stretching and Chimp Enclosure at Wellington Zoo
By Spawn Man via Wikimedia Commons

The Wild Theatre at the zoo hosts animal presentations and can be rented out for events and parties. Sick and injured animals are taken to the Nest, located on the zoo property.

Giraffes During Feeding Time at the Wellington Zoo:
Giraffes During Feeding Time at the Wellington Zoo
By Spawn Man via Wikimedia Commons


9)  The Edinburgh Zoo
As the name suggests, the Edinburgh Zoo is located in the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. The 82-acre zoo, which is home to over 1,000 animals and over 150 species, was built in 1913. The Scottish menagerie receives nearly 600,000 visitors annually.

Entrance to the Edinburgh Zoo:
Entrance to the Edinburgh Zoo
By Mike Pennington via Wikimedia Commons

The zoo is the most visited tourist attraction in Scotland, just after Edinburgh Castle, and is involved in the breeding of rare and endangered animals. The zoo also regularly participates in many conservation activities.

Polar Bear Named Mercedes at the Edinburgh Zoo:
Polar Bear Named Mercedes at the Edinburgh Zoo
By Edinburgh Blog via Wikimedia Commons

Distinguishing itself as the first zoo in the world to both house and breed penguins, the zoo is also home to a resident penguin by the name of Sir Nilis Olav. Sir Nilis Olav was knighted by Norwegian King Harald V. The facility is also the first British zoo to serve as a home to a koala bear and giant panda. The Living Links exhibit at the zoo features both monkeys and squirrels, and the zoo's resident bear, Wojtek, once served in the military.

Penguin Parade from 1985:
Penguin Parade from 1985
By alljengi via Wikimedia Commons

A show is also featured daily at the site as well, called "Animal Antics." Zoo visitors are entertained by zoo animals showing off their natural skills.

Budango Trail at Edinburgh Zoo:
Budango Trail at Edinburgh Zoo
By Northmetpit via Wikimedia Commons


8)  The Basel Zoo
The Basel Zoo is located in Basel, Switzerland. Lovingly called "Zolli" by those who call Basel home, the menagerie is known as Switzerland’s oldest zoo. Covering approximately 32 acres, the attraction is also Switzerland’s largest zoo. The zoo receives 1.8 million visitors annually and was ranked as one of the best zoos in the world by Forbes Travel in 2008.

Lion in Big Cat Enclosure at the Basel Zoo:

By Traumrune via Wikimedia Commons

Home to many firsts, the zoo is noted as the first zoo to hatch greater flamingos as well as the first zoo to feature a birth of an Indian rhino in captivity.

Indian Rhinos at the Basel Zoo:
Indian Rhinos at the Basel Zoo

In fact, the zoo has had a number of successes with the breeding of animals, some of which have included cheetahs, okapi, and Somali donkeys. Not only that, all the Somali donkeys located in other zoos in the world are related to the donkeys bred in Basel - the home of the first Somali breeding program.

Breeding Flamingos at the Basel Zoo:
Breeding Flamingos at the Basel Zoo

The zoo also features an aquarium which exhibits red-bellied short-necked turtles and an African exhibit, which is home to hippos, rhinos and ostriches. Snow leopards can also be found at Sauter Garden at the zoo.


7)  The Schönbrunn Zoo
Located in Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria, the Schönbrunn Zoo was founded in 1752 and is the oldest zoo in the world. Many of its buildings are fully preserved and display a Baroque design. The structures, which are flanked by modern-styled designs, are truly a sight to behold.

Kaiserliches Pavilion at Schönbrunn Zoo:
Kaiserliches Pavilion at Schönbrunn Zoo
By Gryffindor via Wikimedia Commons

Giant pandas are featured at the zoo along with an Amazon Rainforest exhibit and an aquarium. Visitors can walk beneath a simulation of a flooding Amazon. Don't miss the Arctic exhibit either, which features a variety of animals from the polar icecap.

Seal Fountain and Administrative Building at Tiergarten Schönbrunn:
Seal Fountain and Administrative Building at Tiergarten Schönbrunn
By Manfred Werner via Wikimedia Commons

The Schönbrunn Zoo also has the noteworthy distinction of being the birthing place of the first elephant born in captivity.

If you ever want to see the zoo at night, you can book a night excursion and see how some of the nocturnal animals behave when fully awake.

Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Vienna:
Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Vienna
By Tsui via Wikimedia Commons


6)  The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa
The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa are located in Pretoria. Sitting on 210 acres, the zoo is home to approximately 9,000 animals, or over 700 different species.

Overview of a Portion of the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa:
Overview of a Portion of the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa
By NJR ZA via Wikimedia Commons

Depicted by a varied terrain, the zoo is also the setting for the Apies Rivers, which flows over a sloping and flat landscape. Established in 1899, the popular attraction regularly receives over a half a million visitors each year.

The entrance to the zoological gardens is surrounded by an aviary. Other animals you'll see along the way include chimpanzees, lemurs, cheetahs, giraffes, elephants, and red pandas. Lions, tigers, tamarins, kangaroos, and owls call the zoo home as well.

Lion Enclosure at National Zoological Gardens of South Africa:
Lion Enclosure at National Zoological Gardens of South Africa
By NJR ZA via Wikimedia Commons

Because the zoological park is so big, visitors can rent golf carts to travel throughout the facility and sightsee. Two restaurants are also located on the grounds, where you can grab a bite to eat when you’re taking a break from all the activity.

Cableway over the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, Pretoria:
Cableway over the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, Pretoria
By NJR ZA via Wikimedia Commons


5)  The Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo was opened in 1899 and is located in Bronx, New York. An extremely popular site, the Bronx Zoo sits on an 265 acres and features 4,000 animals, all which represent 650 different species. Some of the major exhibits and attractions include the Bug Carousel, the Congo Gorilla Forest, Tiger Mountain, the Wild Asia Monorail, and the Madagascar exhibit.

Gorilla at the Bronx Zoo:
Gorilla at the Bronx Zoo
By Anagoria via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to the noted attractions, the zoo is also home to a sea lion pool, an African plains exhibit, a baboon reserve, and a children's zoo. The Himalayan Highlands exhibit also holds great appeal. A zoo shuttle is provided to zoo visitors for their convenience in seeing the numerous exhibits and sights.

One of the Entrances to the Bronx Zoo:
One of the Entrances to the Bronx Zoo
By Anthony22 via Wikimedia Commons

Indoor exhibits and major interest points include the zoo's butterfly garden, a state-of-the-art, one-of-a-kind 4-D theater, a Jungle World exhibit, the zoo's Mouse House, and a World of Reptiles exhibit. Families can spend hours at the attractions. Zoo staff place an emphasis as well on supporting endangered animals and related conservation activities.

Skyfari at the Bronx Zoo:
Skyfari at the Bronx Zoo


4)  The Toronto Zoo
As the name suggests, the Toronto Zoo is located in the city of Toronto in Canada. Opening in 1974, the zoo sits on 710 acres of land. The zoo is currently home to 5,000 animals and 500 different species.

Entrance to the Toronto Zoo:
Entrance to the Toronto Zoo

Divided into "geographic" sections, the zoo features animals in the Canadian domain, Eurasia, Australasia, Africa, the U.S, the Tundra Trek, and the Indomalaya eco zone. The Indomalaya area of the zoo features such animals as the Indian rhinoceros, the orangutan, the whistling duck, and butterflies.

Toronto Zoo's Splash Island Educational Water Park:
Toronto Zoo's Splash Island Educational Water Park
By Glogger via Wikimedia Commons

You can see such animals as moose, bison, cougars, and grizzly bears in the Canadian section of the facility. The Tundra Trek highlights Arctic exhibits of animals, including reindeer, snowy owls, arctic foxes, and polar bears.

Rainforest Gorilla Habitat at the Toronto Zoo:
Rainforest Gorilla Habitat at the Toronto Zoo
By Maelwys via Wikimedia Commons

Featured animals are located both inside and outside, and can be viewed at different levels in the facility. Kid-friendly attractions, which draw the younger set, include a kids zoo, the Waterside Theatre, and Splash Island. In addition, the zoo has appeared in films and on TV. The facility was seen on TV in 2011 in an episode of "Undercover Boss," and also appeared in the Canadian documentary, "Zoo Diaries."


3)  The Berlin Zoological Garden
Established in 1844, the Berlin Zoological Garden is the oldest zoo in Germany. It is also the most popular. Stretching out across 84 acres, the zoo is home to over 19,400 animals from over 1,400 different species. The zoo also features an aquarium, with both the zoo and aquarium playing host to nearly three million visitors annually. One of the most popular zoos in both Europe and the world, The Berlin Zoo regularly conducts research, working with other zoos and universities in this capacity globally.

Elephant Gate Entrance to Berlin Zoological Garden:
Elephant Gate Entrance to Berlin Zoological Garden
By Dieter Brugmann via Wikimedia Commons

View of the Berlin Zoo from the Scaffolds of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memory Church:
View of the Berlin Zoo from the Scaffolds of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memory Church
By A. Savin via Wikimedia Commons

Animals seen at the zoo include king vultures, brown fur seals, burrowing owls, giraffes, lions, penguins, tayras, and arctic wolves.

Berlin Zoo's Renowned Aquarium Main Building:
Berlin Zoo's Renowned Aquarium Main Building
By Manfred Bruckels via Wikimedia Commons


2)  The Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire
First opening its doors in 1931, the Whipsnade Zoo is located in Bedfordshire, England. The zoo, which sits on 600 acres, is home to over 2,700 animals from about 200 different species.

Whipsnade Zoo Front Entrance:
Whipsnade Zoo Front Entrance
By Lumos3 via Wikimedia Commons

Because of the park's size, visitors can choose to drive, walk, or use the bus service at the zoo. The zoo features enclosed animal areas as well as landscapes where zoo animals can run free. Both Australian wallabies and peacocks have free reign of some of the open areas in the park.

Whipsnade Zoo Hill Figure:
Whipsnade Zoo Hill Figure
By Pointillist via Wikimedia Commons

Exhibits featured at the zoo include the Passage through Asia, which is home to Bactrian camels, hog deer, and yaks, and the Elephant Herd exhibit, which, as you might guess, houses elephants.

Elephants at Whipsnade Zoo:
Elephants at Whipsnade Zoo

Birds can be seen at the Birds of the World Exhibit, including the eagle owl, Harris hawk, macaw and toucan. Children like interacting with the animals at the Children's Farm, some of whom include the turkey, alpaca, llama, goat, and chicken.


1)  The San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is located in San Diego, California. It was opened back in 1916 and features 3,700 animals from over 650 different species. The zoo, which sits on 100 acres of land, is a popular well-known attraction, having the largest membership of any zoo in the world. Over a half million people currently hold zoo subscriptions.

Main Entrance to the San Diego Zoo:
Main Entrance to the San Diego Zoo

The zoo at San Diego can be credited with being the creator of the exhibit concept, an idea that features natural animal enclosures versus iron or steel cages. Therefore, in the San Diego Zoo, animals are displayed behind see-through enclosures and surrounded by plant life and vegetation, all which replicates the animals' natural habitats.

Double Decker Bus for Guests at San Diego Zoo:
Double Decker Bus for Guests at San Diego Zoo

Exhibits and attractions include the Monkey Trails and Forest Tales exhibit, the Owens Aviary exhibit, Panda Trek, the Scipps Aviary exhibit, the Polar Bear Plunge, Elephant Odyssey, the Sun Bear Forest, Tiger River, and Gorilla Tropics.

Klipsringer Enclosure at the San Diego Zoo:
Klipsringer Enclosure at the San Diego Zoo
By Chris Kuehl via Wikimedia Commons

The zoo at San Diego has also been featured on TV a number of times, seen in cartoon animations, and the presented on the covers of music albums. The zoo has frequently been referenced in stories and books as well.


Conclusion
Visiting a zoo is a great learning experience for both children and adults. Zoos make us all more aware why it is important to concentrate our efforts on wildlife conservation.

If you would like to help in this regard, then go online and research the various conservation organizations that are involved in saving endangered animals.

Find out what you can do to contribute to an organization's activities. Or, donate your time to a local area zoo. In the interim, you'll want to add a visit to one or more of the aforementioned zoos to your bucket list or travel itinerary.



 

 

 

 

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