Zoos Remain as A Popular Kid Friendly Activity No Matter Where You Are. But They Are Not All Created Equal and Here Is A Comprehensive List of The Top Zoos Around the World for Kids to Enjoy.
From Australia to the Middle East, zoos continue to play a prevalent part in family travel. It’s a wonderful combination of sheer fun, being in the outdoors, learning a thing or two about native animals and in some cases, interacting with wildlife. Conservation, breeding in captivity and saving endangered species are now very much now part of a zoo’s program. Every zoo offers different attractions and here are the top 30 zoos around the world for kids of all ages.
TRAVEL TIPS YOU WILL FIND:
- #01 – AL AIN ZOO, ABU DHABI, UAE
- #02 – ALPINE ZOO, INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA
- #03 – ASSINIBOINE PARK ZOO, WINNIPEG, CANADA
- #04 – AUSTRALIA ZOO, BEERWAH, AUSTRALIA
- #05 – BARCELONA ZOO, BARCELONA, SPAIN
- #06 – BELIZE ZOO, LA DEMOCRACIA, BELIZE
- #07 – BRISTOL ZOO, BRISTOL, UK
- #08 – CASELA NATURAL PARK, CASCAVELLE, MAURITIUS
- #09 – CENTRAL PARK ZOO, NEW YORK CITY, USA
- #10 – CHAPULTEPEC ZOO, MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
- #11 – CHESTER ZOO, CHESHIRE, ENGLAND
- #12 – DELHI ZOO, NEW DELHI, INDIA
- #13 – EDINBURGH ZOO, EDINBURGH, UK
- #14 – INOKASHIRA ZOO, TOKYO, JAPAN
- #15 – LINCOLN PARK ZOO, CHICAGO, USA
- #16 – LONDON ZOO, LONDON, UK
- #17 – MELBOURNE ZOO, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
- #18 – NASHVILLE ZOO, TENESSEE, USA
- #19 – OREGON ZOO, PORTLAND, USA
- #20 – SAN DIEGO ZOO, CALIFORNIA, USA
- #21 – SAN FRANCISCO ZOO, CALIFORNIA, USA
- #22 – SCHÖNBRUNN ZOO, VIENNA, AUSTRIA
- #23 – SEOUL GRAND PARK ZOO, SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
- #24 – SINGAPORE ZOO, SINGAPORE
- #25 – SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL ZOO, WASHINGTON DC, USA
- #26 – TARONGA ZOO, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
- #27 – WESTERN PLAIN ZOO, DUBBO, AUSTRALIA
- #28 – UENO ZOO, TOKYO, JAPAN
- #29 – UKUMARI ZOO, RISARALDA, COLOMBIA
- #30 – ZOO MIAMI, FLORIDA, USA
- BONUS TIP #1 – RELATED ARTICLES
#01 – AL AIN ZOO, ABU DHABI, UAE
When we were living in the Emirates and later Oman, we were fortunate in having Al Ain Zoo on our doorstep. Al Ain Zoo is one of the most natural zoos worldwide. Zebras and giraffes run free on a great plain against the backdrop of the Hajar mountains, coming to the viewing platform to be fed salad and leaves.
You can look into the eyes of big cats in great rocky enclosures just through the glass, or observe meerkats digging their borrows just next to you.
In the winter, when temperature is around 20°C, the zoo is open normal daily hours. In summer, when the weather in the Emirates is unbearably hot both for visitors and animals, the zoo is only open early in the morning and late afternoon/evening. The evening zoo session has the bonus of hearing noises of the animals as they wake from their siesta. The desert becomes a jungle for a short time to the sound of roaring big cats and squealing monkeys.
Recently the zoo has started to offer guided safaris to see the big five. Have your evening meal in the company of lions! I think Al Ain Zoo is a great place to spend as much time as you have available as in the words of my children, “the best day ever!” – Ania James @ The Travelling Twins
#02 – ALPINE ZOO, INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA
Situated on a mountain slope above Innsbruck, the Alpine Zoo is Europe’s highest lying zoo. What we love most about this zoo apart from the beautiful mountain landscape is that it only keeps species that are typical to the Alps. About 150 of these call the Alpine Zoo home.
Have you never seen an Alpine ibex or European elk? This is your chance. The wolves, lynx, birds of prey, owls, brown bears, reptiles, and farm animals are just some of the other species living in the Alpine Zoo. Their large enclosures represent their natural habitat as closely as possible.
Be prepared for a little uphill walking when you start out. But the kids won’t even notice once they start stopping to watch animals. And if they’re in hiding, just look up and take in the beautiful views over the Inn Valley from your elevated position.
The Alpine Zoo is ideally located close to the Nordkette cable way that takes visitors from the Innsbruck city centre to the Hafelekar mountain top. The zoo has its own station along the first stretch between Innsbruck and the Hungerburg.
While the Alpine Zoo is a year-round destination, some animals do go into hibernation in winter. Fortunately, there are many interactive educational stations to help keep little minds busy. And after all the animal watching, they can climb and swing like monkeys in the well-equipped play park. – Linda from Travel Tyrol
#03 – ASSINIBOINE PARK ZOO, WINNIPEG, CANADA
The Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is a great zoo for both kids and adults alike. Along with animals from Asia and Australia, this Canadian zoo also has habitats reflecting the animals you can expect to see in the Great White North. There’s an exhibit with animals from North America’s grasslands and forests (like bison and cougars), and a large section of the zoo that focuses on Manitoba’s Arctic region called “Journey to Churchill.”
Churchill is a town in the far north of Manitoba, otherwise known as the “polar bear capital of the world.” And for those who can’t make it that far up north themselves, it’s recreated here at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.
Journey to Churchill is the most comprehensive exhibit of its kind in the world and has won all sorts of zoo awards. The exhibit is home to species from muskoxen to Arctic fox to even polar bears. The animals live in large outdoor spaces with few visible barriers, making you feel like you might really be out on the tundra watching them.
The “Gateway to the Arctic” part of this exhibit is the star; this is where the zoo’s polar bears live. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to see polar bears swimming and playing in the water above your head as you walk through an underwater tunnel.
Kids will love the polar bear exhibit, as well as the nearby Polar Playground. Before you leave, make sure you also check out the zoo’s interactive Kinsmen Discovery Centre, and perhaps the Butterfly Garden if you’re visiting during the summer months. – Amanda Williams @ A Dangerous Business
#04 – AUSTRALIA ZOO, BEERWAH, AUSTRALIA
There are so many things to do on the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast with kids, but Australia Zoo in Queensland is hands down our favourite wildlife attraction. We joined as annual pass holders just after we moved to Brisbane in 2014 and have renewed our passes every year since as there is always so much to see and do there. The zoo is enormous – so big that you need a few days to really get around it properly – and even as pass holders we are always seeing new things, plus they run lots of special events over the school holidays like treasure hunts, slides, and inflatables to keep the kids entertained.
The main Wildlife Warriors show in the Crocoseum is the highlight of the day. (Tip: This is Queensland, so make sure sit in the shade as parts of the arena are directly in the sun!) It never fails to make us laugh and we’ve seen it 10+ times over the years.
We love catching the little train to get around – the zoo is large, so the train stops little legs from getting tired. We always hop off for a quick pony ride half way around before heading up to the Africa section where we have a pit stop for coffee and ice cream.
Australia Zoo is an institution, and it has been such a positive influence on my kids to encourage them to take care of wildlife and the environment. Australia Zoo remains as one of Australia’s best zoos. Steve Irwin’s legacy lives on! – Karen Bleakley @ Smart Steps to Australia
#05 – BARCELONA ZOO, BARCELONA, SPAIN
Barcelona Zoo, located at one end of Parc de la Ciutadella in the city, is one of the top zoos to visit around the world with kids. We visited during the month of July and were pleasantly surprised by the zoo, despite some reviews we had read prior to our visit. Opened in 1892, Barcelona Zoo is one of the oldest and most modern zoos in the world.
The zoo is quite large and although we visited during the summer, we found enough shade throughout the zoo, helped by some lovely trees. The zoo has open enclosures for some animals, with double bar fencing-type barriers. It makes you feel as if you can touch the animals. One thing we were delighted to learn was Barcelona Zoo no longer does display shows with their dolphins. They are free to swim between pools without having to put on a performance.
There is a good variety of animals and birds in the zoo and there were improvements works taking place during our visit, which is always nice to see at zoos. Our four-year-old loved the zoo, especially the sandy playground. – Cath Jordan @ Passports and Adventures
#06 – BELIZE ZOO, LA DEMOCRACIA, BELIZE
The Belize Zoo is more of an animal rescue centre rather than a traditional zoo. It was started in 1983 with a handful of rescued animals that desperately needed a home. Today the zoo is home to over 48 different animal species – all native to Belize. The animals are not bought or captured but rescued from injury or mistreatment, and where possible, reintroduced into the wild. You can see tapirs, toucans, boa constrictors, the incredible harpy eagle, jaguars, and howler monkeys.
Spread out over 29 acres, the zoo is big enough that there’s lots to see, but not so big it’s overwhelming for kids. And it’s nicely laid out with beautiful and wild grounds. It feels like you’re strolling through the jungle! All the exhibits are set up to be educational in different and fun ways. With funny and creative signs that cater towards school children. It’s possible to hire a private tour guide who tells stories of the rescue and rehabilitation work they do. But the kids love the animal encounters best where they get to feed a tapir or jaguar. – Audrey Chalmers @ Gumnuts Abroad
#07 – BRISTOL ZOO, BRISTOL, UK
I’ve been visiting Bristol Zoo since I was a young child, back in the 80s the zoo did house much larger animals such as elephants, orangutans, and polar bears. Over the decades, with zoos becoming much more aware of conservation of endangered species, they no longer house the larger animals. Bristol Zoo is on a small site, so it was also increasingly impractical to keep larger species. This has led the zoo to move its focus to smaller animals and their conservation through breeding programmes.
The Zoos official name is Bristol Zoological Gardens, as there is as much focus on the plants, flowers, trees and fauna around the zoo grounds as there is on the animals which reside here.
Although I’ve never been a fan of caged animals, I actually love Bristol zoo and praise it on its efforts towards conservation. They have several successful breeding programmes – including Amazonian Frogs, Gorillas, Lemurs, Pygmy Hippos and more recently the super cute Golden Lion Tamarins.
A must-see zoo for anyone interested in wildlife, beautiful gardens, and conservation. – Becki Rendell @ Backpack Becki
#08 – CASELA NATURAL PARK, CASCAVELLE, MAURITIUS
For family vacationers looking for a glimpse into the wildlife of Africa, Mauritius has Casela Nature Park, which offers nature trails and wildlife safari. This park demonstrates an entire continent’s eco system in around 250-acre habitat. This has been successfully created as an ecofriendly, bio-diversified park with its own waterfall, a giant canyon, and many adventure activities. Its multi-faceted terrain makes it ideal to host quad biking, zip lining and rock climbing tours.
It has enclosures for giraffes, zebras, Hippopotamuses, and chimpanzees, which are indeed delightful for kids. Other than hosting wildlife safari, this place offers interactive tours with lions, tigers, one horned rhinos, and few more.
Amongst all, walking with the lion is the most exciting, thrilling and sought-after activity. We undertook this walk along with a trainer. It was a 30-minute walk with 2 trainers, a small group of God fearing adventure seekers including 2 of us and 2 alpha male lions roaming around in wild without any chains. It is time to keep your fears at bay and appreciate the wildlife. – Chandresh Jain @ Family on the Wheels
#09 – CENTRAL PARK ZOO, NEW YORK CITY, USA
The Central Park Zoo is a small zoo in the south eastern section of Central Park that is perfect for kids. Centre stage is the sea lion pool, and several other environments, including polar, tropics and temperate zones. Kids especially love the daily feedings of the sea lions and the adorable penguins.
There are several family animal experiences you can also pay for, including Toddler Time, a great way for your 2-3 year-old kids to play and discover animals through a guided visit; Exploring the Wild, fun activities and animal encounters designed especially for kids; and Family Breakfast with the Animals, which involves the whole family having breakfast and then watching animals getting their breakfasts.
There is also a Children’s Zoo with sheep, goats, zebu and a cow, which includes a petting zoo (open 10:00am-2:00pm). Finish the trip watching the famous Delacorte Clock, which chimes on the hour and half hour with a penguin, kangaroo, bear, elephant, goat, and hippo parading with musical instruments, and a nursery rhyme playing on the hour. Kids will love the Central Park Zoo! – James @ Travel Collecting
#10 – CHAPULTEPEC ZOO, MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
At the heart of Mexico City lies Chapultepec Park (El Bosque de Chapultepec), an enormous green space that measures some 686 hectares. It’s one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere and is often called the capital’s “lungs”. The park is home to museums, a castle, a lake, and a forest as well as the city’s very own zoo. It first opened its doors in 1924 and still occupies its original location at the centre of one of the biggest cities in the world. There are lions and giraffes, hippos and more as well as a handful of pandas; Chapultepec Zoo is the first institution outside of China to successfully breed pandas in captivity.
What we enjoyed more, however, was the insectarium where kids can hold all manner of creepy crawlies including giant cockroaches and tarantulas. Another favourite was the chance to see an Axolotl (pronounced ah-ho-lo-te), otherwise known as the Mexican walking fish. These curious looking creatures are native to Mexico and, sadly, critically endangered. One of the best things about the Chapultepec Zoo, however, is that it’s free. This means that it gets very busy at weekends but also that it is accessible to all. – Katja Gaskell @ Globetotting
#11 – CHESTER ZOO, CHESHIRE, ENGLAND
Chester Zoo is simply brilliant. It has recently been voted the best zoo in the UK and the 6th best zoo in the World so we are incredibly lucky to have it on our door step. It is a full day out that ticks so many boxes as it’s a pure expanse of wildlife and educational zones. As well as an incredible number of animals including lions, tigers, orangutans, giraffes, elephants, zebras, and less well-known animals too. There are also 3 adventure playgrounds across the zoo for when you need a sit down (and the kids don’t). There is also a large number of indoor exhibits including bats and butterflies and an aquarium so it’s a great place to visit in winter and on a rainy day. – Karen Beddow @ Mini Travellers
#12 – DELHI ZOO, NEW DELHI, INDIA
Delhi’s National Zoological Park is one of my favourite zoos because I have many fond childhood memories. We used to visit this zoo during our vacation and every time I found a new animal or a new baby. I still visit Delhi Zoo occasionally to refresh my memories. The best part about this zoo is that it’s located in the centre of Delhi next to an old fort.
Delhi zoo is spread out in an area of 176 acres and houses about 1350 animals and birds of over 130 species from around the globe. the royal Bengal tiger, Indian rhinoceros, swamp deer, Asiatic lion, brow antlered deer, chimpanzee, hippopotamus, spider monkey, African wild buffalo, giraffes, zebras, hyenas, macaques, reptiles, and jaguars are the main attraction of this zoo. Several species of birds are kept in big enclosures with a mesh net around them. There are swamps in the zoo where water birds live in open. During the winter months from November to February, migratory birds can be seen in these swamps.
Delhi zoo is very good for kids because they can see so many different animals and birds in a short time. It is a great learning experience and makes them compassionate towards animals and also teaches them how to treat animals. – Sapna Kapoor @ My Simple Sojurn
#13 – EDINBURGH ZOO, EDINBURGH, UK
There are so many family friendly things to do in Edinburgh and if you’re visiting the capital with kids, a trip to Edinburgh Zoo should definitely feature on your itinerary. The zoo, built over 100 years ago, is located around 5kms (3 miles) out of town and can easily be reached by bus from the city centre (catch bus number 26, 12 or 31).
It’s set on a hillside, in 82 acres of parkland, and after the castle, it’s Scotland’s most visited attraction. The zoo is heavily involved in conservation work and you’ll find many endangered species including around 1000 rare animals. Our highlights include the famous penguin parade, seeing the giant pandas (the only ones in the UK), daily talks with zookeepers and watching the cuddly koalas.
We recommend catching the small shuttle bus to the top of the hill (includes a useful guided talk) and working your way down through the park – this is particularly useful if you’re travelling with little ones who may get tired legs. There are also a number of playparks dotted about the zoo and to save time, consider buying your tickets ahead online. We had a membership for a number of years and it was a firm favourite for our family! – Gillian Denovan of Scotland Bucket List
#14 – INOKASHIRA ZOO, TOKYO, JAPAN
Tokyo has plenty of zoos, but we recommend Inokashira Zoo which specialises in the animals indigenous to Japan. It is located in Kichioji, a Tokyo suburb about 20 minutes from Shinjuku station with the express train. The zoo is located in the eponymous Inokashira Park, which it also shares with the Ghibli Museum. The park is a 10-minute walk from Kichioji station, along streets full of upscale eateries mixed with street food vendors.
The zoo is split in two parts, separated by a hill. The bird and fish part contain birds indigenous to Japan, and in the aquarium, you can see not only fish but also other marine life like crabs and salamanders. A special section lets you touch the fish.
Across the hill is the animal part of the zoo, featuring animals from all parts of the Japanese archipelago – from Okinawan fruit bats who would be equally at home in the South Pacific to monkeys, badgers, and racoons. And a few animals not indigenous to Japan, like porcupines, guinea pigs, and capybaras. Deer roam free in the centre of the park together with red-crested cranes in a specially created habitat. There is a bird section in this part of the park too, where the birds are not in cages but in a big aviary.
Even though the zoo is participating in conservation efforts to preserve mandarin ducks, Japanese squirrels, and swans; the main purpose is educational. Showing the animals is a way for children (and their parents) to see a bit of nature they may never have experienced otherwise. – Wisterian Watertree @ Wisterian Watertree
#15 – LINCOLN PARK ZOO, CHICAGO, USA
Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago gets my vote for best zoo to visit with kids. Parents will especially love the zoo before even visiting as admission is completely free – a huge bonus as fees can add up quickly for families. Conveniently located near downtown Chicago, the zoo is just a short bus or car ride.
Don’t think the location and free admission means you sacrifice on experience. With 35 acres, the beautifully landscaped zoo is home to numerous animals, including an exceptional gathering of gorillas and chimpanzees. There are a number of “close encounter” programs and special events throughout the year including a holiday lights display, sing along and “play days”. The zoo’s Farm-in-the-Zoo gives kids an opportunity for hands-on nature play, the chance to sit in a tractor, feed a cow, pet a goat, see baby chicks hatch etc. Keep an eye out for the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo (PFCZ), tucked near the black bear exhibit. A log tower, tunnel, balance beam, dig pit and even a treetop canopy climber are available in case your kids need to get some wiggles out. – Matilda @ The Travel Sisters
#16 – LONDON ZOO, LONDON, UK
One of the world’s oldest zoos, London Zoo is a fun place to visit if you are visiting the UK capital as a family. The zoo has a broad range of exhibits, from gorillas to penguins and kangaroos. There is even a small petting zoo for domestic animals. But the zoo is best known for its exotic species. A recent renovation of the lion’s habitat means you can now walk on covered walkways through their enclosure. There are many different viewing areas, so you can see the majestic creatures up close.
Daily activities in the different animal areas help you learn all about the species and their environment. We love watching the pygmy hippos splash about in their bath. Though the animals take centre stage, London Zoo offers many other activities to keep children entertained throughout the day. There are several small playgrounds, a carousel and interactive trails and treasure hunts.
London Zoo has an enviable position in elegant Regent’s Park and covers both banks of the Regent’s canal. On a sunny day it is fun to take a canal boat ride from Little Venice to the zoo. After spending time looking at the animals you can then continue the boat ride down to Camden lock where there is a fun market and lots of food stalls. – Katy Clarke @ Untold Morsels
#17 – MELBOURNE ZOO, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
At Melbourne Zoo, you can meet over 300 different species of animals including Australian native animals such as the platypus, koalas, and the Southern hairy-nosed wombat Our favourite spots in the zoo are is the gorilla rainforest and lemur island. Melbourne Zoo also houses a famous butterfly enclosure where you can walk in and immerse yourself amidst the flutters of hundreds of native butterflies.
Make sure you also check out what’s on at the zoo. There are daily keeper talks, fancy high tea on one Sunday every month or in the summer you head to Zoo Twilights for evening live music.
The Melbourne Zoo is located only 4km from the centre of Melbourne CBD. It is open from 9am to 5pm every single day of the year so if you’re in town during the major holidays and everything else is closed, head to the zoo for a great day out. Best of all, the zoo is free for children up to 15 years on all weekends and holidays. – Amy Chung @ Family Globetrotters
#18 – NASHVILLE ZOO, TENESSEE, USA
The Nashville Zoo is smaller than some zoos across the country but full of activities and animal experiences. You can pet kangaroos and tortoises, feed lorikeets and goats and observe sloths, bears and the new white rhinos. There’s an indoor aquarium section with tons of local and exotic snakes, birds, and fish. You’ll also find some adventurous activities like the Soaring Eagle Zipline, a wild animal carousel, and a wilderness express train. Plus, plenty of shaded paths to explore the animals.
On the grounds of the Zoo, you’ll also find Grassmere Historic Home, a 19th-century plantation complete with farm animals and seasonal tours of the home. Also, the Jungle Gym at the Nashville Zoo is spectacular. It’s the largest community-built playground in the country and boasts a 35-foot tall tree house, climbing structures, swings, and a padded covered area for your littlest ones to tumble and play.
It was recently announced that the Nashville Zoo is building a new veterinary medical centre where in addition to providing more services to the animals and working with local universities as a teaching centre, there will be a viewing gallery that will allow Zoo guests of all ages to observe surgeries and treatment procedures as well as the nursery. – Sarah Wilson @ The Wandering Rumpus
#19 – OREGON ZOO, PORTLAND, USA
The Oregon Zoo, located in Portland, Oregon is a favourite among families who visit the city. This 64-acre zoo receives over 1 million visitors per year! The zoo has around 215 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, fish, reptiles, and invertebrates for families to learn about. The animals represented at the zoo come from the colds of the arctic, the jungles of Asia, and everywhere in between. And there’s more to come in the future! The Oregon Zoo has plans to create three new habitats by the end of 2020.
Our family’s favourite exhibit was the Elephant Lands, which rivals the San Diego Zoo’s elephant exhibit. We loved watching these gentle giants stroll through their specially-made indoor and outdoor habitat. We also enjoyed visiting the Africa Savanna. The giraffes in the exhibit were so majestic!
To really get the most out of your zoo experience, plan to spend the majority of your day there. There are currently 24 animal exhibits to explore at the zoo, so you want to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy them all. – Astrid Vinje @ The Wandering Daughter
#20 – SAN DIEGO ZOO, CALIFORNIA, USA
Home to more than 3,500 animals across 650 different species, the 100-acre San Diego Zoo will surprise and delight at every turn. Some of the best things to do in this zoo include seeing the hippo exhibit in the Lost Forest and exploring the polar bear enclosure in the Northern Frontier. Both of these enchanting displays feature viewing areas where you can watch the animals swimming and playing underwater. These exhibits are especially fun to see with kids, as you can walk right up to the glass and the polar bears or hippos appear close enough to touch on the other side!
The Elephant Odyssey Habitat is also particularly exciting for adults and children alike, especially if you plan to be there while the zookeepers give the elephants baths or file their nails. This state-of-the-art Elephant Care Centre is the perfect place to see behind-the-scenes in caring for the animals who live in the zoo.
The San Diego Zoo’s commitment to conservation science and saving species worldwide also makes this a special place to visit, as they utilise their expertise in animal care to work toward saving endangered species. As you explore this zoo, you will discover a new passion to care for the creatures you see all around you! – Abi Johnson @ Happy Go AbiFrom the oldest zoo in the world to the largest in the world, here's our Top 30 zoos you must add to that family travel bucket list! #topzoos Click To Tweet
#21 – SAN FRANCISCO ZOO, CALIFORNIA, USA
San Francisco Zoo and gardens is one of the best wildlife havens in the world with its huge enclosures for its resident animals of which many have been rescued and belong on the endangered species list. It is educational for the little ones to see so many exotic species of animals at one place and specifically seeing them in almost natural settings in the 100-acre land.
The gorilla enclosure seems like a forest as we peek in through the glass. Kids love looking at the Hippo playing with a ball, giraffes lazily chewing food, kangaroos and wallabies jumping around. There is a rain-forest replication with relevant bird species and reptile species too.
A small petting zoo for children is also available. You can even enjoy a train ride around the zoo. There are many picnic areas as well as cafes on the grounds. You can easily spend the whole day at the zoo, but it is also close to the famous Ocean beach if you would like to relax on the sand at the end of the day. – Priyadarshini Rajendran @ Glorious Sunrise
#22 – SCHÖNBRUNN ZOO, VIENNA, AUSTRIA
There’s a popular shirt in souvenir stores in Vienna that says, “There are no Kangaroos in Austria.” It’s a comic take on people who mistake Australia for Austria, but that’s not entirely true. There are at least two kangaroos at Vienna’s Tiergarten Schönbrunn (Schönbrunn Zoo), the oldest existing zoo in the world (since 1752). The zoo is situated on a 17-hectare piece of land at the right end of the Schönbrunn Palace grounds. It started out as 13 enclosures for animals orbiting a pavilion were the royals had breakfast, the pavilion exists today as a café and restaurant.
Schönbrunn Zoo is also a centre for species conservation and general nature conservation with four giant pandas being born within the premises in a decade. It has also added several attractions and sanctuaries aside from the usual animal houses: a rainforest house, an aquarium with an underwater walkway, an aviary among others. The zoo organizes activities specially tailored for kids, with some that parents can also join in.
Feeding the animals has always been one of my kid’s favourite activities, and I’m sure yours will, too. There are also a lot of play areas with animal themes for kids to play at and snack areas to grab some drinks and food. Best of all, kids can go horseback riding in a secured and guided trail. – Marie Gizelle @ Vienna.101facets.com
#23 – SEOUL GRAND PARK ZOO, SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
The Seoul Zoo is located in the South of the city and is the 10th biggest zoo in the world. It houses more than 3000 animals and 350 different species coming for different corners in the world. Apart from the zoo, the grand park also consists of the Children’s Zoo, Seoul Land theme park, a rose garden, and the modern art museum. A place you can easily spend a whole day or even more at, especially when visiting Seoul with kids.
The best thing of this zoo is the price, for only $4 you can have a whole day of fun at this wonderful zoo. The zoo has everything from llamas, macaws, rhinos to Siberian tigers and at the Children’s zoo, kids can get close to the sheep, bunnies, ponies, and other farm animals. The zoo first opened in 1908, at the end of the Joseon Dynasty and went through quite a hard time during the Japanese occupation in Korea. Many animals and staff died during the occupation and the Korean war, but now the zoo is standing stronger than ever! – Marie Boes @ Be Marie Korea
#24 – SINGAPORE ZOO, SINGAPORE
Singapore Zoo is often regarded as one of the best zoos in the world, thanks to its spacious landscaped enclosures and natural rainforest setting. The zoo is a model example of an ‘open zoo’ concept. Old-fashioned oppressive cages are notably absent, and instead the animal enclosures are separated from visitors by concealed moats, or in glass-fronted enclosures
One of our favourite exhibits is the free-ranging orangutan enclosure, where you can watch the resident primates swinging and climbing above you to their hearts content. We also love the opportunity to feed the elephants and giraffes. Also, don’t miss breakfast with the orangutans – a brilliant way to start your day. Here the orangutans wander in to have breakfast alongside the restaurant and will happily pose for photos with you (no touching allowed).
As Singapore Zoo is located in a rainforest in a hot and humid country, wandering around the zoo can be hot work. We love the water play area that allows everyone to cool off in the steamy afternoon heat and always end our visit to the zoo splashing around here. – Marianne Rogerson @ Mum on the Move
#25 – SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL ZOO, WASHINGTON DC, USA
Where else can you find a zoo that’s affiliated directly to the Smithsonian institution and completely free and open for 364 days of the year? Welcome to the National Zoo in Washington DC. This zoo is really huge, and set on a hillside, so expect a lot of winding down and back up again. The zoo has a large bear habitat, with the highlight being the pandas located in their own special enclosure.
There’s so many habitats, and so many gift shops that sell different things, it’s hard to just stop yourself (or your children) from possibly picking up one, two, and even more things. There are free tours and talks led by zookeepers and there’s plenty of things to keep you (and your children, if you have any), busy and engaged.
Bring comfortable shoes – expect to walk a lot. Getting to the zoo is a bit tricky as there is no direct metro access. You can walk from the nearest metro station, but there is also a public bus available. Parking can be expensive, so public transportation is your best friend to get there. – Ruby Escalona @ A Journey We Love
#26 – TARONGA ZOO, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
Taronga Zoo might simply be the best zoo we’ve ever been to. Your day starts by boarding a ferry from Circular Quay getting amazing views of Sydney Harbour. I think all little ones love boats, so this is a great start to the day and gets them excited as you see the zoo getting closer! For adults, I have to say that Taronga Zoo has one of my favourite views of the Sydney skyline.
The exhibits in the zoo are really interesting and the animals all have lots of space to roam which is so important to me when visiting zoos. I also loved the fact that there were lots of exhibits relating to the indigenous animals of Australia. One of my little one’s favourite thing to do was the Blue Mountains bush walk which was a walk-through enclosure that showed off some of the best of Australian animals.
As we left we took the cable car, which should be taken on at least one journey in the zoo as it gives you an amazing aerial view of the enclosures. – Leona Bowman @ Wandermust Family
#27 – WESTERN PLAIN ZOO, DUBBO, AUSTRALIA
When it comes to zoos in Australia, Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, New South Wales (NSW) is one of the most visited zoos outside the capital cities. Opening over 40 years ago, it provides incredibly spacious enclosures for each animal allowing them to almost feel like they are in their natural habitat.
All up, the Western Plain Zoo is home to around 4,000 animals spanning 350 species. You can see Asian Elephants, cheetahs, meerkats, giraffes, lions, Sumatran tigers, rhinos and a whole lot more. It can easily lead you to believe that you are seeing them in Africa with such wide-open enclosures.
Open every day of the year, the best way to move around the zoo is by vehicle: either your own car, one of the buggies you can hire or a bike. A trip around the Western Plains Zoo circuit is approximately 6 kilometres. The beauty of a ticket to this zoo is it lasts for two consecutive days. You can even stay on site! – Leah Smileski @ Kid Bucket List
#28 – UENO ZOO, TOKYO, JAPAN
Ueno Zoo is located in Ueno Park, a large urban park that is home to museums, a small amusement park, and other attractions. Although the Zoo itself is small, it is the perfect opportunity for families with young children to enjoy Tokyo’s beautiful public grounds, while conveniently working in a kid-specific and focused activity. Ueno Zoo is located just a five-minute walk from the Ueno Station. We lucked out and happened to be in Tokyo right in middle of cherry blossom season, so we spent quite a bit of time just enjoying the scenery. We also took the opportunity to visit the small amusement park, where my young son enjoyed the small-scale roller coasters.
Unlike many zoos, the price of admission is negligible, so taking a small stroll through the zoo was a no brainer for our family of three. The zoo itself is not very large and, curiously, features a squirrel exhibit, but my not quite five-year-old son enjoyed meandering about. While I certainly would not consider Ueno Zoo a must visit on a trip to Tokyo, I do highly recommend the larger Ueno Park, within which it is located. If traveling with small children, a stop in Ueno Zoo is an ideal place for kids to just be kids. – Nancy Carter @ We Go with Kids
#29 – UKUMARI ZOO, RISARALDA, COLOMBIA
BioPark Ukumari is a great option to spend half a day if you visit the Colombian coffee triangle with kids. Designed to be the largest in Latin America, Ukumari is organised in two sections: the Andes and the African.
While the African section is similar with what you can see in other big zoos around the world, the first one is what impressed us the most. The Andes section features lots of local animals you won’t see in many zoos in Europe or US. You will learn a lot about South American fauna here. Some of the species were completely new to us and we didn’t even know their name before. Our favourite was the aviary, where we could observe colourful parrots, toucans and much more. The space for the animals is as arranged to be close as possible to their natural habitat and, wherever applicable, several species share a large area. – Alina @ The Happy Kid
#30 – ZOO MIAMI, FLORIDA, USA
This lush, tropical open-air zoo is not only the oldest zoo in Florida, it’s also the only sub-tropical zoo in the United States. The unique climate of southern Florida means they can comfortably keep a vast array of animals native to Asia, Australia, and Africa with a huge mix of exhibits – over 500 species and 3000 animals. Exhibits are arranged according to geography with plants – and even the soil – matched to the animals’ natural habitats.
The zoo itself is enormous – 750 acres. We laughed at the entrance as everyone rushed to grab a Safari Cycle to pedal their way around the zoo, but soon realised just how big the grounds were, especially for little legs! You really need a full day to explore this zoo and plan plenty of rest stops; there are several cafeteria’s dotted around and a playground area in the centre where many of the exhibit paths meet.
Some of our favourite displays included Critter Connection where there are regular talks and shows, as well as opportunities to handle some of the zoo’s residents and join in with feeding times. We also loved Amazon and Beyond with its big cats, anacondas, and Cloud Forest. – Keri Hedrick @ Our Globetrotters
Did you favourite zoo make the list as one of the best zoos to visit around the world with your family? No doubt this is just the tip of the iceberg and we would love to hear about your best zoo experience!
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So many amazing zoos! It’s great. Reminds me of my childhood when going to the humble Alipur Zoo in my city would bring such a joyous smile on our face. My husband did exhibit the exact same joy when we went to Mysore Zoo recently though 😛
Most of these zoos in your list are larger than anything I have seen Edinburgh Zoo is my fav. Haven’t heard about most of these on the list but singapore zoo is quite famous. Should be on my wishlist too!
There really are so many amazing zoos around the world that are doing great things. Glad you have a zoo that brings back childhood memories:)
Zoos always fire the imagination of kids. Of course nowadays we generally do not visit zoos. This is a comprehensive list of zoos. We like zoos that provide as much a natural environment as possible to the animals. Like the look of the Ukumari Zoo in Colombia.
This is such a great list. I have only been to three I really need to do something about this. Can’t wait to visit more of these.
This is a fantastic list! As a toddler mom, I’m just beginning to look for things that I can do with her…
I’d also suggest you to have a look at Pairi Daiza in Belgium. Its considered the best in Belgium. Its almost a cross between national park and zoo!
I’m hoping to go there next spring. Let’s see!
That’s an impressive list of zoos from around the world. I don’t mind going to them as long as they’re educational and not making the animals perform. They’re a great way to learn about animals and how to help conserve them. Glad to see the National Zoo made the list – free is always good!
I’m not a big fan of zoos, although I loved them as a kid and it’s a great way to educate kids about wild animals Although I did like Taronga Zoo, at least the animals weren’t locked behind bars.
It sure is a tough one isn’t it. We loved them as children and we’re conflicted as adults. But if you do some research you’ll see that zoos play an important role in conservation and breeding.
My kids have always enjoyed visiting zoos. It is a great opportunity for them to see the animals up close. So far we have visited 12 out of the 30 on your list and our favorite is the Singapore Zoo which was very memorable since we had breakfast with the orangutans.
Would love to visit the rest of the zoos on your list someday.
12 out of the 30! Oh my goodness Clarice! That is absolutely amazing! Breakfast with the orangutans is awesome! Not sure if Taronga Zoo in Sydney made your list but you can stay the night there!
This is such a comprehensive list! I didn’t know that the Chapultepec Zoo is the first to successfully bred pandas outside China 🙂 I’ve never had zoos on top of my to-do lists when I travel, but should definitely take that into consideration-especially those that allow animals to roam freely in natural settings!
Thanks Daisy! Yup, zoos now play a more important role than most people think. Pandas were on the endangered species list and thanks to these breeding programs, pandas have now been re-classified to “vulnerable” instead of endangered. Thank goodness!
I’m happy to see the national zoo in DC on this list! My dad used to take me there every year when I was a kid. I still have the stuffed animal souvenirs he got me on our visits. It’s one of my fondest childhood memories.
How lovely! Well, it is the National Zoo after all. It should make the list!
Great list. Glad to see the zoo in my hometown made it- Zoo Miami. Like many of the commenters, I have mixed thoughts about zoos, but those like Zoo Miami focus on conservation and education and you don’t really see cages. Yes, it would be best to see the animals in their natural habitats, but at least children can learn about them and then work in the future to make sure they dont become extinct.
Extinction is becoming more and more prevalent. Even animals we think are in abundance and all over the world. I think we need zoos more than we give them credit for. Glad Zoo Miami has made it!
What an absolutely fantastic resource for zoo-lovers around the world! I am often in a mixed mind about visiting zoos — on one hand, good zoos contribute vitally to conservation of endangered species, and they are also often a pathway to urban children coming to appreciate, love and understand the need to protect our planet’s wildlife; on the other hand, I have a selfish preference to see wildlife in its natural habitat rather than in captivity. And then there’s that issue of poorly run zoos, something we all want to avoid. Having a list of zoos that are well run and a joy to visit is a great help, and particularly helpful for family travellers, I think.
Thank you Kavita and to be honest I am somewhat on the same boat. Lots of debate going on about the importance of zoos and whether we really need them. The general consensus now is that zoos play a vital role in conservation, breeding and protecting endangered species. Steve Irwin, Australia’s most famous conservationist opened a zoo himself. So they are important, contrary to popular belief.
I’m really not fond of Zoos resp. the idea of putting animals behind bars – especially the picture with the lion…how is it possible that a wild animal like that lets people touch it?! But fortunately, many zoos now try to let the animals live in a more or less ‘natural’ environment which is certainly nice.
I don’t disagree in general but I also think zoos have a place in this world. There are zoos that exist purely for conservation and rehabilitation and they rely on zoo goers to fund the program. Zoos also save endangered species by bringing them into a safe environment, where they are protected from poachers, habitat loss, starvation, and predators. I have also found them to be very educational for my daughter. Amazing how she remembers so much after a visit and in fact has assisted in her awareness of wildlife and her responsibility to the animal world.
I always feel a bit guilty when I visit zoos. However, when I hear of the conservation most are now doing, it makes me so happy that what zoos used to be are not longer the case. I hope most zoos keep moving in the direction of conservation and not just for our pleasure.
I have to admit that I have felt the same way too. But zoos are much more than animals in captivity for the sole purpose of entertainment. Conservation, breeding programs, rehabilitation centre etc…. they all have a purpose.
I completely agree with you Amy that zoos are really the best kid-friendly thing to do, and they learn a lot from visiting too. I like the sound of the animal rescue centre in Belize, and the natural park in Mauritius. It makes me happy to see animals roaming freely in their environment, and I’m sure there are many different species in these countries too! I’d love to see some more of these during my lifetime!
Its quite amazing how much kids learn about animals and conservation through zoos. With more open enclosures and breeding programs in place now, zoos are very different today.
What a great list of zoos around the world. When our children were young, they were a favourite for the kids. As adults, we still sometimes want to visit. Especially if there are new and unusual animals. We loved the zoo experience in Sydney where you could stay in the zoo overnight.
Yes! Taronga Zoo’s Roar and Snore experience is fantastic. Don’t think I will ever get sick of that view that overlooks the harbor with the bridge as the backdrop.
I used to love going to Zoos as a child.