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Top Ten Zoos of the United States

Updated on August 2, 2014

Top Ten U.S. Zoos

Here is a listing of the top ten zoos located in the United States. This ranking is comprised from a large number of factors including the variety of animals, total acreage, and cost of entry. This listing also figures in a consensus of other zoo ratings from various trusted resources.

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Summi

#10 - The Phoenix Zoo

Phoenix Zoo
Phoenix Zoo

Public domain photo courtesy Wikimedia

The Phoenix Zoo covers over 120 acres and is considered the largest not-for-profit zoo in America. The zoo prides itself on being one of top family friendly facilities in the nation. The Phoenix Zoo has four "trails" - one of which features wildlife native to Africa.

Click to visit the Phoenix Zoo's official website

#9 - The Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo
Philadelphia Zoo

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Cburnett

The oldest zoo in the U.S. is the Philadelphia Zoo, which opened in 1874. The zoo is on the small side, covering about 42 acres, but this allows visitors the ability to view most that the zoo has to offer in just one day. Popular attractions include the Big Cat Falls, which houses tigers, lions and jaguars, and a simulated rain forest where onlookers can view over 100 bird species from across the globe.

Click to visit the Philadelphia Zoo's official website

#8 - The Audubon Zoo

Audobon Zoo
Audobon Zoo

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/KioreRat

The Audubon Zoo, located in uptown New Orleans, houses over 15,000 animals. The zoo's most famous residents are the rare white alligators that are housed in the award-winning Louisiana Swamp attraction. The Malayan Sun Bear (above) also calls the zoo its home.

Click to visit the Audubon Zoo's official website

#5 - The Memphis Zoo

Memphis Zoo
Memphis Zoo

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Katsutoshi Seki

Housing over 2,800 animals in 400 species, the 70 acre Memphis Zoo is one of the newer zoos on this list. Without a doubt, the zoo's top attraction is it's Giant Panda Exhibit, as the zoo is only one of four in the U.S. that house these rare creatures. The zoo's Primate Canyon and Northwest Passage exhibits are also can't miss attractions.

Click to visit the Memphis Zoo's official website

#6 - Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Hans Hillewaert

Opening in 1998, Disney's Animal Kingdom is not just rides and attractions, but a fully-accredited zoo as well. The Africa division is the most visited, with a foot trail designed to mimic a African jungle valley. It also features a quasi safari experience with giraffes, elephants, and hippos.

Click to visit the Disney Animal Kingdom's official website

#5 - The Bronx Zoo

Bronx Zoo
Bronx Zoo

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Raul654

Covering a whopping 265 acres the Bronx Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the world. The zoo opened in 1899, and is home to over 4000 animals covering about 600 species. The Bronx Zoo has captured more top national exhibit citations than any other zoo in America. Arguably the top attraction is it's Congo Gorilla Forest exhibit known for the wide range of primates that can be seen there.

Click to visit the Bronx Zoo's official website

#4 - The St. Louis Zoo

St. Louis Zoo
St. Louis Zoo

Public domain photo courtesy Wikimedia

If you are looking for a zoo with free admission, look no further than the St. Louis Zoo. The zoo is spread out over 90 acres, and houses over 4500 animals representing 660+ species. Their Sea Island Sound exhibit is unique as visitors view sea lion's habitat by walking through an underwater tunnel. The Insectarium and butterfly house are also quite popular.

Click to visit the St. Louis Zoo's official website

#3 - The Henry Doorly Zoo

Henry Dooley Zoo
Henry Dooley Zoo

Public domain photo courtesy Wikimedia

The Henry Doorly Zoo, located in Omaha, Nebraska, is definitely one of the best zoos in the nation. The zoo houses over 17,000 animals in almost 1000 species. The zoo continues to grow, improve and rise up the list of top U.S. zoos. The zoo features an indoor desert and an indoor rain forest as well. Another main attraction is Exhibition Madagascar, which ia home to a wide variety of Lemurs.

Click to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo's official website

#2 - The San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo

Creative Commons photo courtesy Wikimedia/Ltshears

The massive 100 acre San Diego Zoo is probably the most widely know zoo in the United States. The zoo is one of four in the U.S. that house Giant Pandas, and it has the largest collection of Koalas outside of Australia. The botanical gardens, the Polar Bear Plunge, and the Elephant Odyssey are also must-see attractions.

Click to visit the San Diego Zoo's official website

#1 - The Columbus Zoo

Columbus Zoo
Columbus Zoo

Public domain photo courtesy Wikimedia

The 588 acre 7000+ animal Columbus Zoo captures the top spot on our list. Opened in 1927, the zoo gained world-wide notoriety under the direction of "Jungle Jack" Hanna, who guided the zoo's refurbishment. The zoo features the largest collection of manatees outside of Florida, and a 100,000 gallon coral reef exhibit. Other popular sections of the zoo include The Asia Quest, the Polar Frontier, and the African Forest.

Click to visit the Columbus Zoo's official website

Quick Zoo Question

How many of these zoos have you visited?

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