U.S. News & World Report recently put out a list of the top 26 zoos in the United States. The national publication considered these top zoos to be the best “animal parks for education, conservation and global outreach.” Being “tops” meant each of these zoos had to deliver great opportunites for visitors to not only see different kinds of animals, but also be able to learn about each one. One New England zoo was named best in the U.S.

Visiting a zoo is fun and a great learning experience for all ages. You should put it on your list this summer!  U.S. News considered many factors in choosing their list.  Travelers reviews were important to the equation, as was being accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. This association’s work centers on the care and well-being of animals. And the zoos chosen here also on had to show they were involved in conservation efforts and endangered species research.

Just one New England zoo was named best in the U.S. by U.S News & World Report. Congratulations to Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island. Did you know Roger Williams Park Zoo is the 3rd oldest zoo in the country? It made the top 26 based on several key factors. This zoo has a large variety of aminals. There are 100 animal species, including a Komodo dragon, red pandas, and snow leopards.  As U.S. News reported, this “institution also plays a key role in regional conservation efforts, especially the breeding and reintroduction of local threatened animal species like the New England cottontail rabbit.”

You’ll find a complete list of the 26 best zoos in the U.S. HERE. 


Here are some popular zoos to visit throughout the country:

Unforgettable Zoos: Explore These Must-Visit Wildlife Destinations

  • Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

    The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has a huge variety of animals from all over the world, like elephants, primates, colorful birds, and even marine life. You can get up close and personal with these incredible creatures and learn about the importance of conservation. They have interactive exhibits and fun programs that teach you about wildlife and how to protect it. You can explore underwater habitats and see stunning marine species, from vibrant coral reefs to graceful sea turtles. Visitors can walk through what the zoo calls the world’s largest indoor desert and the largest indoor rainforest in North America. And if you don’t feel like walking back from the exhibits, you can take a steam-powered locomotive that circles around the 130-acre park.

    Outside a desert dome at Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo

  • Denver Zoo, Denver, CO

    The Denver Zoo is home to more than 3,000 animals representing more than 450 species. They offer a schedule of exciting and interactive events, including close encounters with animals and diverse cultural performances. Kids can even join the thrilling ‘Bunk with the Beasts’ overnight stay, featuring up-close visits with animals, along with a pizza dinner, snack, and breakfast. Outside of the zoo, their Field Conservation and Emergency Wildlife Response teams work to safeguard species from threats like habitat loss and human encroachment.

    An Indian elephant cools off in a swimming pool at the Denver Zoo

  • The Toledo Zoo, Toledo Ohio

    The Toledo Zoo & Aquarium is home to 720 species and houses more than 10,000 individual animals. It places a strong emphasis on conservation, actively participating in over 80 species survival programs. The zoo hosts the popular Toledo Zoo Lights event during the holiday season and collaborates with research institutions. Visitors to the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium can try their hand at the Expedition Africa Aerial Adventure Course. They also have the opportunity to feed a variety of animals, including giraffes, goats, and alpacas.

    Feeding the Giraffe at the zoo. The hand of a girl with a leaf of lettuce in her hand and a giraffe gently takes a treat with her lips

  • Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, GA

    Zoo Atlanta provides something for everyone, whether you prefer a relaxed walk through the African Savanna or an immersive experience in The Ford African Rain Forest. It’s home to more than 1,000 animals representing more than 200 species from around the world, with many of them endangered. Visitors can see a variety of animals including gorillas, monkeys, and an array of reptiles and amphibians. Also, you’ll get a chance to see giant pandas, naked mole rats, clouded leopards, and other animals in the Asian Forest.

    Flamingos in a large group resting.

  • Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL

    Established in 1868, the Lincoln Park Zoo stands out as one of the few remaining free-admission zoos in the United States. They have a diverse animal population of over 1,200 animals that you can see through the zoo’s self-guided tours and interactive activities. It includes encounters with seals, polar bears, and penguins. It’s must-see attraction is the Regenstein Center for African Apes, which houses chimpanzees and gorillas.

    Howler Monkeys at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo

  • San Francisco Zoo, San Francisco, CA

    Spanning across a 100-acre site, the San Francisco Zoo serves as a sanctuary for over 1,000 wild animals representing more than 250 species. Notably, it holds the distinction of being the birthplace of Koko the gorilla, an iconic figure in primate communication studies. The zoo is home to several major exhibits, including the African Savannah featuring reticulated giraffes, and the Primate Discovery Center housing black howler monkeys, chimpanzees, macaques, mandrills, and more. Visitors can explore the Cat Kingdom, home to Indian rhinoceros, hippopotamus, African lions, snow leopards, Sumatran tigers, and even anacondas.

    Peacock at the San Francisco Zoo

  • Zoo Knoxville, Knoxville, TN

    Zoo Knoxville is famous for a couple of amazing achievements. Back in 1978, they made history by breeding the first two African Elephants ever born in the Western Hemisphere. Zoo Knoxville has bred more endangered red pandas than any other zoo in the world. It also plays a significant role in the conservation of endangered tortoises through its leading breeding efforts.

    Red Panda Feeding on Bamboo Shoots

    Ian Fox/ Getty Images

  • Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington, D.C.

    The Smithsonian National Zoo sits on 163 acres in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park. Founded in 1889, the Zoo is currently home to more than 2,700 animals representing more than 390 species. Like all Smithsonian museums, admission is free. A popular feature of the zoo is its endangered giant pandas which include adults Tian Tian and Mei Xiang and one-year-old Xiao Qi Ji. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the zoo with the Animal Adventure Guide or spend some time chatting with the animal keepers at the Great Ape House. You can also get up close and personal with the American farm animals at the Kids’ Farm.

    A group of asian small-clawed otters gather around in National zoo.

    Png-Studio/ Getty Images

  • San Diego Zoo, San Diego, CA

    The San Diego Zoo was established in 1916 and is home to a remarkable collection of animals. With over 12,000 animals representing more than 650 species and subspecies, there is a lot to see and explore. You can encounter fascinating creatures like red pandas, African elephants, and bonobo apes during your visit. One such experience is the “Inside Look” program, which gives you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the daily life of the zoo. Another must-try is the Skyfari aerial tram, where you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of all the different habitats in the zoo.

  • Bronx Zoo, New York City. NY

    The Bronx Zoo occupies more than 265 acres. Within this space, there are over 10,000 animals for you to encounter. Plan to spend a whole day there. They offer a range of experiences, such as the Treetop Adventure, where visitors can enjoy ziplining through the trees. You can also visit the zoo’s Butterfly Garden and witness over a dozen types of butterflies among meadow flowers and nectar trays. You don’t want to miss the Congo Gorilla Forest or the Wild Asia Monorail.




Carolyn Kruse Country 102.5 midday personality 9am-2pm Boston

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