Do you have free time but you’re unsure what to do with it? Or perhaps you are thinking of what activities to include in your itinerary for a planned vacation? How about visiting a zoo? Zoos are a great place where both adults and kids can have some fun, bonding time. With over 2,000 zoos in the United States, there are plenty of places you can go around.
Go ahead and visit the best zoos in the U.S. and see for yourself what makes them some of the top places to visit.
Zoos by American State
Zoos by Country
For now we will focus on the best zoos in the United States, but be sure to check back soon as we branch out and provide you with some of the best zoos in the world!
Guide to the Top Zoos in the U.S.
Most people know that being in the presence of nature is good for one’s health. Nature is beneficial physically, mentally, and emotionally. This also applies to visiting a zoo, which is credited to help reduce stress. No wonder millions of people, from young children to the elderly, often go to zoos several times a year.
As mentioned, the U.S. has thousands of zoos you can visit. But of course, you will probably only travel to those near your home or at the place you are staying at while on vacation. Some of these zoos have plenty of amazing amenities. In fact, the largest zoos in the United States often include aquariums and theme parks, too.
Spending a day in a zoo offers one of the most fantastic experiences that anyone can have. With that said, go spend a relaxing time in the best zoos in the U.S. on your next vacation!
Reasons People Visit Zoos
If you are still not convinced, below are the top reasons you should visit a zoo when you next have some free time.
1. Both Kids and Adults Can Enjoy a Visit to the Zoo
The zoo offers a whole new world for kids to explore. Many kids haven’t seen or interacted with certain animals. Taking them to the zoo provides that opportunity, which allows them to take in new experiences. Visiting the zoo also teaches the kids about animals, their habitats, and their behavior, as well as the how important the efforts are to protect them.
Many kids today spend so much time indoors, playing video games and scrolling on their phones. Bringing them with you on a trip to the zoo allows them to take a break from online and get in touch with the outside world. It will certainly do great for their health to be outside, breathing fresh air and feeling the sun on their skin.
They say zoos are only for kids – they couldn’t be more wrong. Adults also enjoy visiting the zoo, enjoying a fun time watching the antics of the animals. It’s also a way for them to unwind and escape from stress for a brief moment.
2. Enjoy a Different Zoo Experience Every Time
Every zoo is unique, offering different experiences that are sure to be memorable every time. Whether it’s a small zoo in town or a large zoo that is practically a theme park, you are sure to love the diversity you will see there. At first, you will think the only activity you can do at a zoo is to watch the animals, but there are actually plenty of other things to do:
Some of these activities are:
- Zoo Bingo – A game that can enhance a kid’s letter and word skills while having fun.
- Animal Geography – This is another game you can play at the zoo where you look for specific animals often found in a particular country.
- Scavenger Hunt – An activity where you cross off animals you see out of a list while you go around.
- Animal Alphabet Game – A game similar to Zoo Bingo, where you look for animals with names that start with a particular letter.
- Petting or touching the animals – A sensory activity that teaches you about your other senses.
- Asking kids questions about the zoo visit or the animals – An activity that can help improve their language, vocabulary, and comprehension.
A visit to the zoo can be quite educational, with adults and kids learning things about exotic animals, the native species in each U.S. state, and more. It doesn’t even have to be an educational trip but just clean fun for the kids and the whole family. You can just visit the zoo to make memories and have a laugh.
What Kind of Animals Can You Expect to Find in Zoos?
There are so many different kinds of animals that live at the zoo, including species you will only see in other countries. If you’re planning to visit a zoo one of these days, it helps to know about these animals, at least a little bit. With that said, below are some of the animals you will see in a zoo.
The most common type of animals seen in the zoo is land mammals, which are those that mostly live on land. They are also called terrestrial animals, which exclude all sea animals and some birds. Some of the common land animals you can see in a zoo are tigers, lions, elephants, giraffes, and apes.
Arboreal, Aquatic, and Aerial Animals
You will also sometimes see arboreal animals in zoos. These are animals that live on trees, such as some species of monkeys. Aerial animals are those that naturally fly, soar or glide in the air, such as birds, bats, insects, and flying squirrels. You can see most aquatic animals in aquariums, but there are also some in zoos, like alligators.
Below are some of the animals you can see at almost every zoo:
- Monkeys are perhaps the most common zoo animals you will see. They are generally harmless, typically playing around when you give them food. You will usually find varying species of monkeys in zoos, along with primates like gorillas.
- Tigers are wild zoo animals that are also quite dangerous. Many species of tigers are on the brink of extinction, which is why rare species are taken to zoos. They can harm people but you cannot deny they are fascinating creatures.
- The king of the jungle is another kind of animal you will often see in zoos. There are endangered species of lions, which might alarm you if you see them in a zoo. But don’t worry because zoos actually help protect these animals from extinction.
- You can almost always see an elephant when you visit a zoo. They are incredible-looking animals that are also among those endangered. They are often taken to the zoo, especially the rare species, to protect them.
- If the category is scary animals to see at the zoo, snakes are at the top of the list. Snakes are common in zoos, often even having their own collection. There are even zoos with a snake collection of the rarest species.
- Crocodiles are big zoo animals that belong to the reptile family that includes alligators. It’s incredible to see crocodiles with your own eyes but be careful because they can harm you if provoked. It’s also one of the many animals hunted for their skins.
- Fishes are among the aquatic animals you will often see in a zoo. They are adorable, the kind of animals you won’t be afraid to touch unless it is a shark. Zoos often have varying species of fish, which can be small or big ones.
History of Zoos
Did you know that long ago, animals like leopards, lions, and elephants were given as gifts and treated as pets? They are often given to royals as pets, which was the beginning of the zoos you see today. Back in the day, zoos were menageries that served as entertainment. Animals are kept, collected to satisfy people’s curiosity.
The oldest menageries were said to date back to early 3500 B.C. These menageries contain all kinds of exotic animals such as wildcats, hippopotamus, baboons, and antelope, collected by kings and rulers and kept in acres and acres of land. Many rulers in ancient history created these zoological gardens such as Assyrian King Ashur-bel-Kala and Chinese King Wen of Zhou.
When kingdoms became nation-states back in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, these menageries that used to be private collections became public. They are no longer called menageries but zoological parks or zoological gardens, or “zoo” for short. Taxes support these public animal collections, which became a nation’s symbol of power and wealth.
However, zoos are also legitimate institutions that can educate, entertain, and amuse the citizens. They are a great place where people can escape from the bustle of the city. It is one of the best places where you can relax and have quiet fun among animals and nature. Zoos are fantastic sights in the city that could advance your scientific knowledge.
Educational Factors and Why Zoos Are Important
To the general public, zoos are a place of entertainment, but it is far more than that. Zoos help educate the community on everything about animals, including preserving wildlife, particularly of the rare and endangered species. Below are some of the reasons why zoos are an important part of society.
Zoos are important for scientific research. They let scientists observe animals closer, which can provide useful data when it comes to managing their populations. The data gathered also help in making scientific breakthroughs by being the base used to bridge the gaps in the current scientific knowledge.
Many zoos have species conservation programs aimed at protecting endangered species and helping them propagate. Some have breeding programs to preserve genetic biodiversity. Once the animals are no longer close to extinction, the zoo will reintroduce them back into the wild while also keeping a close eye on their population.
Zoos play a critical role in preserving biodiversity. The best zoos in the U.S. have helped protect numerous species and evolved them through research and conservation programs. Along with education organizations, zoos have changed their purpose from mere entertainment to saving wildlife while providing engaging experiences.
One of the most important benefits of zoos is the increased awareness and knowledge about wildlife. They provide great opportunities for educating visitors about the many programs of the government on conserving habitats. Moreover, it is at zoos where you can learn the damage and danger that these animals have been suffering, often at the hands of humans.
Tips to Keep in Mind When Visiting a Zoo
Now that you know about the importance of zoos and why they are an excellent place to visit, time to know some tips to make your time there most memorable. The following tips will also help you and the animals in the zoo to stay safe during your visit.
Wear A Comfortable Attire
If you want to have the best time visiting the top zoos in the U.S., make sure to wear comfortable attire. Wear your most comfortable walking shoes, T-shirt, and pants. Also, don’t forget to wear your sunscreen.
Supervise Children At All Times
Children like to explore and go all over the place, so be sure to keep your eyes on them. With the number of people that often visit a zoo and how large they are, kids can easily get lost if they are not supervised.
Things Not Allowed on Zoo Grounds
There are plenty of things you can’t take with you to the zoo because they might injure people and animals. Some of these items are:
- Glass containers
- Selfie sticks
You should always be respectful when at the zoo since you are not the only one visiting. Stay quiet as much as possible. Never shout as it can disturb the other guests and may agitate the animals.
What’s the Best Zoo to Visit?
The answer to this question varies as every zoo in the U.S. has something unique to offer. It is best to simply visit and see for yourself what makes the zoo such a great place to explore. Besides zoos, consider sightseeing at other attractions in your city like camping sites, aquariums, and hot springs. Your city sure has a lot to offer if you just take a look around!