Almost every major tourist city in the world is home to a zoo. However, there are only a rare few doing the miraculous work that the following ten zoo’s and wildlife parks are doing to promote animal conservation, wildlife protection, captive breeding of endangered species, and general public education and awareness around the importance of animal preservation.
1. Wellington Zoo, North Island, New Zealand New Zealand’s very first zoo is one of the biggest, situated on 32-sprawling acres with more than 500 animals and 100 different species – many of which are endangered species native to New Zealand, including Sumatran tigers, the miniature Sun Bear, the smallest of the bear species. The zoo is also involved with a group in parts of Asia called “Free the Bears”, lions, and many more. The zoo is dedicated to quality, sustainable enclosures for its population, which include solar heating and power, and intimate one-on-one encounters with the animals to educate on the importance of natural preservation.
2. Toronto Zoo, Ontario, Canada The Toronto Zoo houses 5000 animals from 460 species around the world. This zoo boasts some truly unique exhibits – such as camel rides, sting ray touch tanks. Plus, enclosures for numerous endangered baby additions like Gaur (a type of Indian bison), spider monkeys, Grevy’s Zebras, African Elephants, Greater Kudu (a type of antelope), Western lowland gorillas, and pygmy hippo. Not to mention many native animals to Canada, such as Grizzly bear, Moose, Wood Bison, raccoons, lynx, and cougar.
3. Australia Zoo, Sunshine Coast, Australia Of course the wildest and most adventurous zoo on earth would have to have been founded by none other than the late Steve Irwin, Australia’s Crocodile Hunter. The zoo encourages hands-on encounters with various snakes, koalas, kangaroos, wombats, tigers, elephants, as well as viewings of over 1000 different animals. Make a reservation if you really want to make the most of your day!
4. Yokohama Zoo, Japan
Japan’s Yokohama Zoo, lovingly referred to as “Zoorasia” was established in 1999. A massive 100 acres in size, this lush, sprawling zoo gives extended room to it’s over 1500 animals from 150 species. In fact, the zoo is largely green in design, consisting of 7 separate ecological areas – the Asian Tropical Forest, Central Asian Highland, Oceanian Grassland, Japanese Countryside, African Tropical Rainforest, and the Amazon Jungle – all designed to mimic natural habitats. Because it’s so large, binoculars are given to each guest upon entrance for optimal spotting of the inhabitants.
5. Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay, North Wales
This 37 acre hillside park was established by naturalist Robert Jackson in 1963. Today, the Zoological Society of Wales has taken the helm and operates the zoo more like conservation lands for native wildlife within. Guests are treated to wooded acres, tree lined paths, and rolling hills teeming with grey heron, grass snakes, and badgers. The must-see exhibits are the modern Eurasian Otter showcase – outfitted with a river, and waterfall for happy otters to slide and frolic about – and that of the California Sea Lions and the Humboldt Penguin.
6. Berlin Zoo, Germany
The Berlin Zoo is the oldest and most-visited zoo in all of Germany. In collaboration with its associated aquarium, the area is made up of 84 acres and home to over 17,000 animals. The zoo was established with the help of King Frederick William IV of Prussia, who populated the zoo with 850 animals from his very own private collection. It suffered massive damage during World War II, when most of the zoo and almost a hundred animals were destroyed. However, the zoo was rebuilt and the survivors – a pair of lions, hyenas, a bull Elephant, almost a dozen baboons, and a chimpanzee – moved into more natural enclosures and tours, one of which became the Animals of the Bible tour, showcasing animals from biblical reference.
7. Philadelphia Zoo, Pennsylvania, USA
America’s very first zoo is the Philadelphia Zoo, established in 1874. Today the zoo enjoys a reputation for breeding endangered species in captivity as well as simulated natural habitats for its animal population. Home to over 1300 animals, this urban zoo boasts one of the most state-of-the-art primate exhibits in the world, PECO Primate Reserve, a 2.50acre, indoor and outdoor areas that houses 10 different primate species – including gibbons, lowland gorillas, Sumatran Orangutans, lemurs, and Silverbacks. Cat lovers will purr at the sight of Big Cat Falls, which houses 12 endangered species of felines such as African Lions, Amur Tigers, jaguars, Snow Leopards, and cougars. If you don’t get your fill during the day, stay for a rare overnight experience camps for kids!
8. Bronx Zoo, New York City, USA
This rather small zoo in the midst of a metropolis is one of the oldest and best zoos in the USA. So much so that the Wildlife Conservation Society established its veterinarian society here, where primary care is provided for over 15,000 animals located at various zoos across America. The Bronx Zoo is particularly renowned for its animal enrichment programs. Both educational and hands-on in nature, visitors can witness zoo keepers training and interacting with animals – such as the monkey and tiger population – as well as various feedings, animal behavior, and health care for polar bears and various other resident animals.
9. San Diego Zoo, California, USA
Near San Diego’s downtown, you’ll discover the wonders of the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. This huge 100-acre spread is home to almost 4000 animals from 800 species. The grounds are grassy and hilly so many guests opt for the 35-minute guided bus tour, or they choose to hop on and off at certain exhibits. The zoo’s Elephant Odyssey is by far the most impressive and educational, tracing the species form the Pleistocene era (i.e. wholly mammoth) to modern day. However, nearby you can pop in to visit the giant sloths, bears, lions and jaguars in their simulated natural habitats.
10. Basel Zoo, Switzerland
The Basel Zoo boasts one of the most successful captive breeding programs of endangered species in the world. The uniquely peculiar creatures here are not often seen in other wildlife parks around the world. In fact, the more than 600 species – including snow leopards, cheetah, Indian Rhino, flamingos, pygmy hippopotamuses, Somali Wild Ass, and okapi – would be proud that their zoo is considered among the top 7 by the Zoological Society of London for its successful breeding efforts.