I don’t know why but I have always had a fascination with the zoo. Maybe it’s my complete love of all animals – great or small – or maybe its just the beauty of seeing those types of animals up close! One things for sure, I am like a big kid whenever I’m at the zoo and it definitely ranks top 3 in my list of awesome places to hang out for the day. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily agree with taking animals out of the wild and their natural habitat but I think so long as it is for conservation purposes and rebuilding the species numbers to prevent extinction and that they have good surroundings, if anything they are being helped out! To be honest, if some strangers came along and shoved me on a Virgin flight to anywhere hot, gave me loads of cash to look after myself so that I didn’t have to work for anything and I had a life of lounging around (the only con being that occasionally people may come along and stare a little) I’d be extremely happy! Nowadays most zoo’s are all open plan so to speak (with concealed perimeters) and acres and acres for the animals to roam. But I personally know that there are some amazing zoo’s with equally amazing animals to be seen all over the world.
So I have put together this list of the ten best zoos in the world…
10. Zoo Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
Prague does not seem like a destination that automatically screams “zoo” when you arrive but let me assure you it is well worth sacrificing one day of your holiday to check it out. With around 1.3 million visitors annually I am not the only one who would agree. There are 5000 animals and 650 species at the zoo. The grounds stretch from a lush river valley up a steep, rocky escarpment to rolling meadows. The views at the summit are spectacular. A mere 5 Euros will give you all-day access and highlights include Monkey Island and the Indonesia Jungle.
9. Zoologischer Garten, Basel, Switzerland Zoo
Located in the city of Basel in Switzerland, this zoo is the oldest in the world. Receiving around 1.7 million visitors each year it has become the most paid visitor attraction in Switzerland. It is situated in 24 acres of beautiful parkland sat right in the heart of the city. It is certainly a place you will encounter strange and astonishing forms of marine, desert and rainforest life.
8. National Zoological Gardens, Pretoria, South Africa
Opened in 1899, this is Africa’s finest zoological park. Itis large enough that you may want to hire one of the available golf carts in order to get around to each exhibit! The zoo is situated on relatively flat ground but half is located on the slopes of the hill. A cable car is available to take you from the top slopes to the entrance at the bottom. It houses 97 mammal species, 161 bird species, 279 fish species, 106 reptile species and seven amphibian species for a total of approximately 4500 animals. Apart from the atmospheric pathways, lush greenery, and natural exhibits, the park also features South Africa’s largest aquarium.
7. Bronx Zoo, New York City, USA
With an amazing 265 acres (I think I might be right in saying the largest zoo in the world?!) to explore, the Bronx zoo would certainly make for a fun filled day out that everyone can enjoy. It is particularly famed for housing a rare snow leopard and thousands more animals including tigers, gorillas, lemurs and bears. It also boast the largest man made rainforest and a mono rail for ease getting around this mammoth place!
6. Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington DC, USA
Due to this zoo being part of the Smithsonian foundation (the world’s largest museum and research complex) admission is always free which makes it a great visit for the family during the kids summer holidays and it wont cost the earth! Set in 163 acres, the zoo is home to nearly 2,000 individual animals of 400 different types of species. The best known residents are their giant pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang.
5. San Diego Zoo
The San Diego zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals and 800 different kinds of species so you know that if you visit here you are going to see pretty much every animal you have ever wanted to see up close! This is also one of the few zoo’s in the world that house the giant panda. This rolling landscape of exotic plants, winding pathways, and natural exhibits occupies 100 acres and offers a welcome respite from the exhilarating atmosphere of San Diego. In addition to the park, visitors can also go on safari for a seperate admission fee.
4. Animal Kingdom, Orlando Florida Zoo
Disney’s Animal Kingdom covers an astounding 500 acres and is consequently Disney’s largest theme park in the world. Animal Kingdom subtly combines a theme park with a zoo but you would not know it. The zoo was founded in 1975 and is a fun day out for all the family with so many things to do which is why it ranks so highly throughout the world.
3. Toronto Zoo
The Toronto Zoo also ranks amongst the largest in the world, spanning over 700 acres and housing over 5,000 animals! Why not visit the award winning African Savanna, New Great Barrier Reef, and the award-winning Gorilla Rainforest, Eurasia outdoor exhibits, home to the Prezwalski foals, Snow leopard and Siberian tiger cubs, and Zellers Discovery Zone featuring Kids Zoo, Splash Island and Waterside Theatre.
2. Tiergarten Schonnbrunn Zoo, Vienna, Austria
Vienna zoo opened in 1752 making it the oldest zoo in the world today. Again, this is also one of the few zoos in the world to house giant pandas named Yang Yang, Long Hui, Fu Long, and Fu Hu. Fu Long’s birth on 23 August 2007 was the first natural insemination panda birth in Europe. Fu Hu was born exactly 3 years later, and he was also conceived via natural mating. Also, On July 14, 1906, the zoo saw the birth of the first elephant in captivity. Seeing the polar bears is another must! The above orangutan made headlines when he was given his very own camera to play with!
1. Singapore Zoo
And finally, we have The Singapore Zoo. The open concept and incredible landscape design makes it top trumps in the zoo world! They have really been able to simulate life in the wild for their animals making it spectacular to see. In this 70-acre rainforest landscape, all animals are kept in large landscaped open air areas and are separated from visitors by ‘hidden’ barriers that include vegetation, streams, moats, and rocks. The open concept is further enhanced by small monkeys, birds, turtles, and even orangutans sharing the pathways with throngs of visitors.The zoo features dozens of fun and unique attractions, including the famous Jungle Breakfast! Enjoy your breakfast with the animals in the distance. You may get to feed the elephants, but more often than not you’ll find yourself entertained by the orangutans as they mingle throughout the crowd!