June 22, 2011 2:23 AM IST
America's Best Zoos
For the animals that live there, zoos are a home away from home. It's our job to give them the best home possible. Some zoos around the country have got it right, providing the best lodging for our furry, slimy, feathery, scaly and fuzzy friends. And its not just the animals who are having fun, there are great things in store for us humans as well!
Click "Start" to find out more about America's most advanced, most progressive and impressive zoos.
San Diego Zoo - San Diego, CA
The world-famous San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park is one of the largest zoos in the world, with over 4000 animals of more than 800 species. Exhibits are often designed around a particular habitat that range from an African rain forest to the Arctic taiga and tundra. Many exhibits are "natural" with invisible wires, darkened blinds to view birds, and pools and open-air moats for large mammals.
Disney's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, FL
Part of the Walt Disney World Resort, Animal Kingdom's 500 acres are home to 1700 animals representing 250 different species. Rides throughout the park make it easy to see a lot of animals in one day. The park also includes parades, performances that feature nearly 20 species of birds, and live musical-stage shows.
Waikiki Aquarium- Honolulu, Hawaii
Located next to a living coral reef, the Waikiki Aquarium brings guests face-to-face with colorful tropical fish, reef sharks, living corals, endangered Hawaiian monk seals, sea jellies, squid, octopus and everything else that swims up to meet you. The exhibits are centered around the aquatic life of Hawaii and the tropical Pacific. Over 2500 organisms in exhibits represent more than 420 species of aquatic animals, including 201 species of fish and 223 species of invertebrates.
The Philadelphia Zoo
This Pennsylvania zoo is the first in the country to go green. It has implemented a carbon offset program, ‘Footprints’, which sets standards to make the zoo operation eco-friendly and to counteract global climate change. The zoo also teaches visitors how to participate in the conservation effort by planting trees, recycling and using recycled products at the park and in visitors’ daily lives.
Columbus Zoo - Ohio
The Columbus Zoo is home to over 5,000 animals representing over 700 species. The animal exhibits are divided into eight regions of the world. The zoo is also home to “Jungle Jack” Hanna, one of the most notable animal experts in the US. In addition, the zoo owns an 18-hole golf course, known as Safari Golf Club, Zoombezi Bay (a water park), and Jungle Jack's Landing (amusement park). All are located just south of the zoo.
Lowry Park Zoo- Tampa, Florida
Voted the best zoo for kids by Parents Magazine, children can get up close and personal with the animals here. Kids can brush a goat's fur, feed birdseed lollipops to parakeets, and walk down a path as kangaroos and wallabies hop in front of them. They can even ride on a llama or a camel. Little ones can feed the giraffes, a white rhino, stingrays and lorikeets. Furthermore, the zoo is the only one in the country with an accredited preschool and kindergarten on-site.
Bronx Zoo - New York, NY
The Bronx Zoo is the largest metropolitan zoo in the country. Set on 265 acres of land, it houses over 4000 animals. It’s also the first zoo in the world to teach students, offering 30 courses for preschoolers to 12th-graders. Its teaching materials have been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and African languages, and its curriculum is used in every state and 15 nations. Here’s another reason to go: a portion of your admission price helps to fund the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Maryland Zoo - Baltimore, MD
The Maryland Zoo is the third oldest zoo in the country, established in 1876. Currently, the zoo’s animal collection encompasses more than 1500 birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, representing nearly 200 species. The zoo has also partnered with the National Aquarium in Baltimore to offer over 16000 sea creatures and a range of aquatic life including rare deep sea fish.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center- Glen Rose, Texas
Accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, Fossil Rim features more than a dozen exotic big game species. This 1,700-acre wildlife center is dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered and threatened species. Visitors can take a guided tour of the park or do a drive through tour on their own. Overnight lodging and other accommodations are also available at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.