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best zoos in america

Best Zoos in America: Exploring Top Wildlife Parks Across the U.S. in 2024

Even though zoos attract millions of visitors all around the world, they tend to be super popular in the United States. People love them because they offer amazing experiences that stay with you forever. In 2024, folks still flock to these places, eager for cool encounters with animals and to learn new things.

Today, we’re diving into the best zoos in America. These places are like mini habitats, where you can get up close with all sorts of animals and discover the magic of the natural world. 

From one end of the country to the other, these zoos are calling us to come and explore. Additionally, subscribing to Matt’s Flights will help you get cheap flights so you can visit as many wildlife enclosures as possible. So, get ready for an eventful ride as we tour the top wildlife parks in the US!

Unveiling the Top Zoos Across America

There are 439 zoos in the US, and while it’s hard to choose the best of them, here are our top four picks: 

Henry Doorly Zoo (Omaha, NE)

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo is a celebrated oasis of wildlife wonder. Here, visitors are met with an assortment of attractions, ranging from the world’s largest indoor desert and nocturnal exhibits to sprawling outdoor exhibits brimming with creatures from around the world. 

Some of the highlights include the world’s largest indoor rainforest, The Lied Jungle, with its lush waterfalls and nearly 100 species of rainforest inhabitants; the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium, offering a bewitching stint with sharks and other aquatic marvels; and the pioneering Kingdoms of the Night, housing creatures that come to life after dark. 

Admission prices vary by season and age, with savings offered to children and seniors.

San Diego Zoo (San Diego, CA)

Situated on the sun-kissed shores of Southern California, the San Diego Zoo is a must-visit destination for animal lovers of all ages. Spanning over 100 acres of lush landscape, this iconic zoo boasts a diverse collection of wildlife, including rare and endangered animals. 

Visitors can explore the sprawling exhibits showcasing everything from giant pandas and koalas to majestic mountain lions and towering giraffes. Unique features include the innovative Panda Trek, where guests can observe these beloved bears up close, and the immersive Elephant Odyssey, which traces the evolutionary journey of these magnificent creatures. 

Admission prices vary depending on age and package options, with discounts available for advance online bookings.

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Bronx Zoo (New York City, NY)

In the hustle and bustle of the streets of New York City, nestled within a sea of biodiversity is the Bronx Zoo. With more than 6,000 animals from virtually every corner of the planet, this urban oasis combines charming wildlife-viewing encounters and conservation education. 

Unmissable highlights include the Congo Gorilla Forest, where visitors can watch huge gray gorillas in a natural rainforest setting, and Tiger Mountain, high among rocky outcroppings stalking grounds for these majestic cats. 

Admission to the Bronx Zoo includes access to all exhibits and attractions. Special rates are offered for children under 12, seniors, groups of 15 or more, and summer camp groups.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Colorado Springs, CO)

On top of the picturesque Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo offers its guests exclusive experiences that make the most out of zoo viewing and more. They say that here, unlike in other zoos, you get a chance to see animals up close in their natural environments. 

Small penguins play in clear waters while herds of wildebeest roam freely. As an added bonus, the panorama views from every corner of the ZOO are simply magnificent! Highlights include the opportunity to feed giraffes up close at the African Rift Valley exhibit, a visit to Rocky Mountain Wild, and the chance for close views of rare and endangered species at Encounter Africa. 

Prices vary according to season and age, though military personnel get a discount as well as student groups.

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Other US ZOO Gems

In addition to the well-known giants, there are several smaller but equally remarkable zoos across the United States, each boasting captivating exhibits and activities that leave a lasting impression on visitors.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

Nestled along the banks of the Ohio River, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a hidden gem brimming with biodiversity, and a home to the world-famous hippo Fiona. This historic zoo features a diverse collection of animals housed in immersive habitats, including the award-winning Hippo Cove and the interactive Africa exhibit. 

Visitors can also explore the zoo’s botanical gardens, which showcase a stunning array of plant species from around the world.

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Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Located in the heart of the nation’s capital, the Smithsonian National Zoological Park offers a world-class zoo experience amidst the iconic landmarks of Washington, D.C. Home to over 2,000 animals representing 400 species, this urban oasis provides visitors with unique opportunities to learn about wildlife conservation and biodiversity. 

Highlights include the Giant Panda Habitat, where visitors can observe these beloved bears in action, and the Elephant Trails exhibit, which offers insights into the complex social dynamics of these majestic creatures.

Philadelphia Zoo (Oldest in the U.S.)

Steeped in history and surrounded by lush greenery, the Philadelphia Zoo holds the distinction of being one of the oldest zoos in the United States. Founded in 1874, this historic institution continues to delight visitors with its diverse collection of animals and engaging exhibits. 

From the innovative Big Cat Crossing, where big cats roam overhead, to the immersive PECO Primate Reserve, which transports visitors to the heart of the rainforest, the Philadelphia Zoo offers a journey of discovery for animal lovers of all ages.

Saint Louis Zoo, Missouri

Situated in the heart of St. Louis, Missouri, the Saint Louis Zoo is renowned for its commitment to conservation and education. With over 16,000 animals representing 600 species, this zoo offers a rich tapestry of wildlife encounters, from the playful antics of sea lions at Sea Lion Sound to the majestic beauty of big cats at Big Cat Country. 

Visitors can also explore the zoo’s expansive grounds, which include beautifully landscaped gardens and interactive exhibits highlighting the importance of biodiversity and habitat preservation.

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Zoo Miami

Tucked away in the tropical paradise of Miami, Florida, Zoo Miami is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. As the only tropical zoo in the continental United States, this unique institution is home to a diverse array of animals from South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. From the vibrant colors of the Wings of Asia aviary to the thrilling antics of primates at the Amazon and Beyond exhibit, Zoo Miami offers a fascinating glimpse into the wonders of the natural world.

These smaller but remarkable zoos provide visitors with an opportunity to connect with nature in a more intimate setting, offering a wealth of experiences that inspire, educate, and entertain. Whether you’re exploring the historic streets of Philadelphia or soaking up the sunshine in Miami, there’s a zoo waiting to enchant you with its unique charm and beauty.


Here are some frequently asked questions addressing common concerns about the best zoos in America:

What is the Biggest Zoo in the US?

At 2,600 acres, the North Carolina Zoo is the largest and the best zoo in the US. The sprawling campus is split into two continents—North America and Africa. Each region is jeweled with excellently replicated natural habitat, providing the animals with a comfortable and entertaining existence. The zoo is very active with its conservation efforts and research programs. An amazing array of iconic species, such as African lions and elephants, can be witnessed at agreeably close range by an eager and wide-eyed public, 

What is the Most Visited Zoo in the US?

Disney’s Animal Kingdom, located in Bay Lake, Florida, holds the title of the most visited zoo in the United States. Boasting approximately 2,000 animals from around 300 species, it offers a captivating wildlife experience. Remarkably, 45 animals have been part of the park since its inception, with some arriving nearly a year before its official opening to the public. Through immersive exhibits and educational programs, Animal Kingdom provides visitors with a unique opportunity to connect with nature and learn about wildlife conservation efforts.

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Conclusion – The Best Zoos in America

Over a hundred wildlife parks in the United States stand as excellent examples of America’s commitment to conservation, education, and animal welfare. From habitats for every kind of animal created by humane architects to world-class conservation programs, each of the destinations in this post provides a different experience allowing visitors to look out over natural beauty. As we continue to build a world where individuals live in harmony with nature, top zoos in the US give promise that future generations will honor, enjoy, and responsibly coexist with the world’s beautiful wildlife.

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