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The 10 Best Zoos in the World

posted in: World  |  posted by: Jennifer Gregory on July 25, 2008  |  36 Comments

As a child, I loved visiting the zoo. The world’s most incredible species all gathered into one location for our viewing pleasure. As I grew up, the novelty wore off as I began viewing animals as innocent victims that had been plucked from their natural habitats, but that opinion soon changed as well.

Today’s zoos have evolved and are much more sophisticated than the ones I visited more than 20 years ago. They’re developed to resemble the natural habitats of each animal, allowing them to roam, mate, and feed as they would have anywhere else in the world. The world is full of zoos, and we’ve searched each continent for the best (for both you and the animals)!

10. Animal Kingdom, Orlando

Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is part of the Disney Theme Park collection in Orlando, Florida. While it’s obviously a commercial zoo, the zookeepers do their best to make sure each animal feels as though he is in a realistic habitat, with plenty of space and as little human distraction as possible. The goal is to make sure that the park promotes conservation as much as possible. Animal Kingdom is home to over 1,500 exotic animals, plus hundreds of fish and bird species!

9. Basel Zoo, Switzerland

Cheetahs at the Basel Zoo

Basel Zoo in Switzerland was opened in 1874, allowing it to rank as one of the oldest zoos in operation today. The zoo is, in fact, the second most visited attraction in all of Switzerland. There are more than 6,000 animals in this popular Swiss destination, including Somolian wild donkeys and dwarf hippopotami!

8. Beauval Zoo, France

White Tigers at Beauval Zoo

The Beauval Zoo in France originally opened in 1980 as an aviary, housing over 2,000 species of birds alone. It wasn’t until over 10 years later when other animals were introduced to the habitat and the zoo has since grown to over 4,000 animals. Favorites include the zoo’s two white tigers, known as Gorby and Raisa; and the pair of twin manatees, known as Quito and Luna. Make sure you stop by and say hello when you visit!

7. Bronx Zoo, New York

Baboons at the Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo in New York is the largest zoo you’ll find in a metropolitan location in the United States. The park itself takes up over 250 acres of land and includes a number of endangered and rare species in its collection of over 4,000 animals. Stop by Tiger Mountain to meet the Siberian tigers, visit the stunning 6.5 acre Congo Gorilla Forest for an African safari adventure, or visit Madagascar to meet the lemurs and hissing cockroaches!

6. National Zoological Gardens of South Africa

Pretoria Zoo

Located in Pretoria, the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa leaves nothing to the imagination. As the largest zoo in South Africa, it houses over 2,500 species of animals. Incredibly, most of the animals at the zoo today were bred and born there. The zoo also features a reptile park, the largest aquarium in the entire country, and an extensive collection of exotic trees!

5. Berlin Zoological Garden, Germany

Elephant Gate at the Berlin Zoo

The Berlin Zoological Garden in Germany originally opened in 1844. It is considered a historical landmark because it survived World War II and was then rebuilt to a better state of existence. Even architects will enjoy the incredible structures contained within the zoos walls! The Berlin Zoo is acknowledged around the world because of the rare species it contains and because it successfully breeds animals on a regular basis.

4. Schonbrunner Zoo, Austria

The Polar Bear Cubs at the Vienna Zoo

The Schonbrunner Zoo in Vienna, Austria was founded in 1792, making it the oldest zoo in the world. Be sure to visit the Rainforest house and Artic Polarium while you’re there. The most entertaining exhibit at the zoo right now is the home of the polar bears. The mother bear had two beautiful cubs in late November of 2007. She brought them outdoors for the first time in March of 2008. If you’re lucky, she’ll bring them outside while you’re there!

3. Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington, DC

Bald Eagle at Smithsonian Zoo

The Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington DC has rightfully earned the title of the country’s National Zoo. The zoo can be found in Rock Creek Park and houses over 400 species totaling at least 2,000 animals. The coolest thing about the zoo is that regular admission is free. One of the most exciting features is the Snore and Roar tour – it involves a night-time tour of the zoo and a camp-out – if you dare!

2. Toronto Zoo

Toad at the Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo also ranks amongst the largest in the world, spanning over 700 acres and housing over 5,000 animals! Did you know that 2008 is the year of the frog? Zoos around the world are participating in an effort to increase awareness about the dangers threatening amphibians. The Toronto Zoo has dozens of activities planned throughout the entire year in honor of the frog and his friends!

1. Singapore Zoo

Singapore Zoo

The Singapore Zoo is famous for their incredible landscape design, with habitats simulating life in the wild for each of their animal species. 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!

Any of these zoos is sure to promise you an educational and exciting experience. Pack your bags and hit the road – you’ll want to explore as many of these zoos as you can!

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Responses to this Article

36 Responses to “The 10 Best Zoos in the World”

  1. Rene Moller says on

    The Singapore Zoo is famous for their incredible landscape design, with habitats simulating life in the wild for each of their animal species. 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!

  2. Geoff says on

    How is the World Famous San Diego Zoo not on that list?

  3. Nick says on

    yea i’m pretty sure the biggest zoo on earth should be on the list. the san diego zoo is unarguably better than the ones in orlando, dc, and toronto. Never been to the rest though…..

  4. brendan paulson says on

    You forgot to add the Prague Zoo in the Czech Republic to the list

  5. Robert says on

    How come the most prestigious zoo (San Diego ZOO) is not on the list? Get the facts Straight!!

  6. camellia says on

    its funny.. if you search “worlds best zoo” both the first and second links have info on the san diego zoo… this link happened to be the third.

  7. shankar agare says on

    hi i will visit your zoo can you direction me to go from mumbai to singapur zoo

  8. shaheen says on


  9. rahul nayar says on

    this rahul n i do love wild animals
    and i want to work with them if any 1 able to help me pls help
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  10. rahul nayar says on


  11. dog says on

    Zoo Praha (Prague Zoo) should definitely be on there.

  12. Mijanur Rahman says on

    Hi Brother Shahid please have look the below information.

    Please note Mirpur Zoo in Bangladesh going to import few animal if you are in position to offer 5 pare kagaroo,Zebra, Ziraf and before shipment 2/3 official wants to visit.

    please confirm what animal can be exported from australia i am going to meet him day after tommorow.

    Appreciate your early reply.
    Mijanur Rahman (Mamun)
    10/32 Barber Ave, East Lakes.
    Sydney, NSW 2018, Australia
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  13. Brian Costelloe says on

    Sorry but any top 10 list that doesn’t have Sydney’s Taronga Zoo on there is not worth a pinch of salt! Catching the Ferry to the zoo cutting through the world famous harbour past the Opera House gives you a great build up to one of the world’s longest running zoos. On another subject… if the Irwin’s have any say in it… their Australia Zoo will be on this list in years to come as they plan to double the size of their already amazing lay out!

  14. felix says on

    must be difficult to rate this category. Zoos basically should be rated maybe like hotels…..because not all zoos have the expertise and financial means to be among the raelly well established ones. Bigger zoos should help the smaller ones by giving advise and monitor their setup. Focus on the ethics, welfare as well as the enrichment niche for the animals.(tactfullness is needed here….as no one wants to be told that they are doing it wrong!

  15. jimmeny jilickers says on

    where is toronga zoo from australia that one should certainly be in the top 10 i cant believe you didn’t even mention it.

  16. Nick says on

    No, it ST. Louis zoo

  17. dave says on

    (better than San Diego – i’ve been to both)

  18. mickles says on

    I worked at the National Zoo in DC and it is really great. However, this list has no credibility because it does not have the San Diego zoo (which is by far better than the National Zoo).

  19. jill says on

    i think that the omaha henry doorly zoo should be on this list, largest indoor forest, largest indoor desert (and dome), nocturnal exhibit, and its a good zoo.

  20. MarisaMaddie says on

    ummm HELLOOO???? wat about the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park????!!!! those are awesome!!

  21. sonya says on

    The Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo should definitely be included on this list. When you actually look up info on these zoos, Henry Doorly has 17,000 animals, 968 species, which is way more than most other zoos. I will say that it’s more of a walk around and look at the animals with little interaction with them, save for the petting zoo. There are hardly any shows except for watching the handlers feed the penguins and the seals while they talk about the animals. But isn’t that a good thing? Plus getting to see the baby animals in the nursery is especially heart warming!

  22. Andrew says on

    I find it odd that everyone thinks that the San Diego Zoo is even good. When my wife and I were there all there seemed to be was an abundance of plants, loud polluting buses, and a long way to walk for very little. I found the zoos in Calgary, Vancouver, and Xcaret in Mexico to be much nicer. But I guess YMMV.

  23. mrs zafar says on

    singapore zoo is definitely the best i have seen!!!

  24. mrs zafar says on

    can anyone tell me where is this omaha henry zoo?

  25. Danny Hellyar says on

    Not including the San Diego Zoo on this list completely negates any credibility as to the integrity of the judgment of this sites analysis.

  26. Ulises says on

    Toronto Zoo is certanly huge, but barely inhabited indeed. What a disillusionment!!!

  27. Martin says on

    I can compare ZOOs in central Europe reogion, and I can tell you, that Schoenbrunn ZOO can hardly compete the best ZOOs in the world. From my experience, there are at least three better ZOOs in nearby Czech republic, namely ZOO Prague (in one chart the 7th best in the world – I can only agree, it si amazing), Safari Dvur Kralove (mainly focused on african fauna and really good) and ZOO Zlin – Lesna (the smallest one, but very nice). And tickets to all of them cost you less then half of ticket in Wien. I do not want to say, Wien ZOO is not a good ZOO, but it is not that good, to be marked as 4th best in the world. Definitelly.

  28. Sopheary says on

    It’s great that wildlife are safe from hunter but do they wish like this?who make them to become like that?what do they need to live? hope all of us,not hunt or… but help together for wildlife live freedom and happiness in the jungle.

    Forest and Wildlife is Our future life.

    Please act as Bee

  29. Jo says on

    hi, i personnally feel that singapores zoo is indeed an amazing zoo. Although it is not as big as San Diego zoo but its design of the natural habitats for the animals are excellent. You feel as if they are kept by a invisible barrier as there are no cages at all.

  30. rebecca brookes says on

    zooparc de beauval in france was amazing, one of the best zoos i’ve been to and i have visited many in lots of different countries.

  31. ryan says on

    omaha henry doorly is a good zoo

  32. Harry says on

    What about Melbourne Zoo, Australia? Oldest in the country and 3rd oldest in the world. It is awesome!
    Or the Werribee Open Range Zoo, or Healesville Sanctuary?

  33. Hana says on

    What about San Diego zoo it should the biggest zoo

  34. kuk1m0n5t3r says on

    Toronto Zoo could easily be on the worst zoo list. Poorly maintained, dirty, unorganized, incompetent staff. I have been a member there for over 25 years and have seen it deteriorate to the point where it is obvious that new management is required. If you visit, do not expect to be impressed.

  35. Ray says on

    To place the Singapore Zoo at No1 is ridiculous. On my visit it found it very disappointing and the staff seemed uninterested in assisting in directions to the exhibits.

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