Zoos are an epicenter for science, education and a platform where we can see all the cute and not so cute animals that we love. Zoos teach us about the animals, habitats, and what we can do to save the planet. Below I have created a list of some of my favorite zoos in the country and some fun facts about them.
San Diego Zoo
Containing 3,700 animals represented by 650 species San Diego zoo is one of the larger zoos on our list. As a part of the San Diego Global Zoo network, it then becomes part of the greatest conglomeration on zoo and conservation powers. This includes the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is entirely dedicated to conservation research. San Diego Zoo was the first zoo to incorporate open-air, cageless enclosures into their facility. This approach also allowed them to exhibit more natural habitats for the animals. So, the next time you want to connect with nature you should check out the zoo that did it first.
St. Louis Zoo
Boasting a whopping 5,000 animals covering over 600 plus species this large zoo has humble beginnings. The 1904 St. Louis world fair’s walkthrough flight aviary is the nesting site of the St. Louis Zoo. When the city decided to keep the attraction back then, they probably didn’t know it would grow into one of the greatest zoos in the USA. When looking for a zoo with humble beginnings and modest story look no further than the St. Louis Zoo because you can see that same cage still standing on their Historic Hill.
If you’re looking for a zoo that has a rich history of exhibiting animals that were to become extinct look not further than Cincinnati Zoo. This zoo works very hard to conserve many species that are endangered, they have had the last known specimens of birds pass away at their facility. First, we have the last Passenger Pigeon named Martha that passed in 1914 and then we have the last Carolina Parakeet passing in 1918. But no worries this zoo bounced back from those devastating losses by being the first facility to captive breed California Sea Lions.
Henry Doorly Zoo
Do you want a zoo with a lot of prestige? Look no further than the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NB. This zoo is Nebraska’s top paid attraction and has been named #1 zoo in the world by TripAdvisor in 2014. They are renowned for their roles in conservation and research. Still not impressed? Henry Doorly Zoo also boasts the largest cat complex in North America, the world’s largest nocturnal/swamp building, and world’s largest glazed geodesic dome.
Well here’s another zoo that’s obtained a lot of first and renowned just in case Henry Doorly wasn’t enough for you. Brookfield received international recognition for their used of moats and ditches instead of bars. Brookfield was the first American zoo, ever to house a Giant Panda, and even by today’s standards, they’re pretty rare to see. Brookfield fully enclosed the first ever indoor dolphin exhibit and rainforest simulation as well.
Say hello to the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States. The Bronx zoo is known for its role in reintroducing Bison back into the wild via the American Bison Society and with help from Theodore Roosevelt. As part of the Wildlife Conservation Society Bronx zoo participates in many events that support conservation. Their largest event is the wild run, which is a 5k run through the zoo in order to raise money and awareness for conservation.
Houston Zoo is a beautiful zoo that contains lots of interactive animal exhibits as well as a water park! You can get your learn on and beat the Texas heat! With giraffe feedings, petting zoos, guided tours, and various exhibits that allow kids to get even closer there’s no way you couldn’t find something to enjoy at this zoo. Go ahead and get wet, wild, and learn something new.
Ushering in new animal firsts is the Toledo zoo. They were the first American zoo to have Hippopotamus on exhibit and featured the first live birth of one as well. Lesser known is the fact they were the first ever to exhibit a Kihansi Spray Toad and has worked very hard to bring this toad back from the brink of extinction. Toledo was actually named 2014’s #1 in the USA by USA Today for their grounds, conservation, and overall entertainment value. They even have a special department dedicated to saving their Ohio’s native wildlife and habitat’s.
Do you want to see a giant panda, look no further than the Memphis zoo! They’re three zoned zoo has one entire section dedicated to the pandas and their habitat. This is a rarity as only 4 US zoo are currently displaying giant pandas. Memphis was also named #1 US zoo in 2008 by Trip Advisor. With their enriched landscaping ideas, Memphis Zoo has created an oasis throughout their zoo as you walk from one zone to another and this amazing landscaping can be seen in the exhibits as well.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Founded in 1868 Lincoln Park zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the nation. This zoo also has a Burr Oak Tree on grounds that are 3 years older than the town itself! So, this zoo has some special for all you dendrophiles. Also, Lincoln Park has won several awards for their ape exhibits, including “the exhibit of the year”. With all these great exhibits its no wonder they had the first bison born in captivity.
Being the only tropical zoo in the continental US makes this zoo a truly special place to visit. Zoo Miami is the founding members of the Butterfly Conservation Initiative. Adding to their impressive resume is the fact they raise money for Thailand zoos in order for them to improve captive breeding facilities for Fishing Cats and Clouded Leopards.
180 million people visit zoos annually, that is 1/2 of the American population! With all these people going to zoos across the nation, we all need a little guidance in finding the best ones to spend our hard earned money on and support. What do you think makes one of the best zoos? Number of animals? Number of visitors? Or the history and welfare of the animals they care for?