The 15 Best Zoos in the USA

Looking for a fun and educational activity for the whole family? We’ve got you covered. How about a fun trip to some of the best Zoos in America! Where else will guests be able to see several species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and much more?

The United States is known worldwide for its impressive collections of zoos. In this list, we discuss the 15 best zoos the US has to offer. They are a must-see for any animal lover! 

15. Oklahoma City Zoo

Location: 2000 Remington Pl –  Oklahoma City OK, 73111

Contact Number: 405-424-33

Price of admittance: Adults $11, children from age 3-11 8$ and, senior citizens $8. Parking is free. 

Located in the Adventure District of Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical garden is home to over 1,900 animals with 512 different species.

The property is over 119 acres. It is divided into various exhibits and habitats that are not separated by species. Guests can enjoy a 4-acre large cat exhibit called Cat Forest/Lion Overlook. Home to large African lions, tigers, and snow leopards. 

The Great EscApe homes two large troops of gorillas and a large community of chimps as well as a family of orangutans. Within the Oklahoma Trails, guests can spot beavers, snakes, alligators, black bears, owls, and even skunks.

There is also a place for children to play and spend time with cute animals. The Children’s Zoo has flamingos, monkeys and cute goats to keep the kids occupied. This zoo has something for everyone and will ensure a fun eventful day for the whole family.

14. Oakland Zoo

Location: 9777 Golf Links Rd – Oakland CA, 94605

Contact Number: 510-632-9525

Price of admittance: Adults $24, children from age 2-14 $20$ and, senior citizens $20. Parking is $10 per car. 

Located in Oakland, California. The Oakland Zoo is approximately 100-acres. It homes over 660 different animals. The habitats mimic the real-life scenery and feel for the animals to feel at home and safe.

The Children’s Zoo homes the Wayne and Gladys Valley. It is a state of the art enclosure for the animals that call it home. There are also interactive exhibits with play areas for children to have fun and learn.

There are many animals that children can learn about. Including goats, Aldabra tortoises, ring-tailed lemurs, and much more. There is also The Bug Room where kids can see all sorts of bugs and insects. The California Trail is the largest exhibit in the Oakland Zoo. Guests can explore the area via a gondola ride.

The exhibit homes several species of animals. Including bald eagles, grizzly bears, grey wolves, jaguars, black bears, American bison as well as California condors. This Zoo large Zoo will for sure be a fun and interactive day trip for the entire family.

13. The National Zoological Park

Location: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW –  Washington, DC, 20008

Contact Number: 202-633-4888

Price of admittance: Admission is free. 

Located in Washinton DC and founded in 1889. The National Zoological Park is one of the oldest Zoos in America.

It is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is one of the few zoos in America that has free admission. Home to over 2,000 different animals of about 400 various species.

Some of which are on the endangered species lists. Fan favorites include the Giant Pandas, Great Apes, Lemurs, Elephants, and many more.

12. Oregon Zoo

Location: 4001 Southwest Canyon Road – Portland, OR 97221

Contact Number: 503-226-1561

Price of admittance: Adults $17.95, children from age 3-11 $12.95 a Parking is $8 per day or $2 per hour. 

Located in Washington Park, Portland. The Oregon Zoo first opened in 1888. The property is 64-acres and is home to 1,800 animals. Two hundred thirty-two species of mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and amphibians.

Nine of these species are on the endangered species lists, with nine more being threatened. The Oregon Zoo is an active member of the 63 Species Survival Plan. They hope to not only protect their endangered species but also to save them from extinction.

The Oregon Zoo has a botanical garden that hosts over 1,000 exotic plants from the American Pacific Northwest. Some of the plants include the firebird heliconia, pelican flower, and ground orchids.

Guests can explore exhibits such as the Eagle Canyon, Black Bear Ridge, Cascade Crest, and Cougars Crossing, to name a few. The Oregon Zoo is a beautiful experience for the entire family. They promise to entertain and to educate visitors about the animals and plants they home.

11. Minnesota Zoo

Location: 13000 Zoo Blvd, Apple Valley –  Minnesota 55124-8199

Contact Number: 952-432-9000

Price of admittance: Adults $18, children from age 2 $12. Parking is $7 per day 

Located in Apple Valley, Minnesota, and first opened in 1978. Home to over 2,300 animals of 447 various species. The Minnesota Zoo has 6 thematic areas that are each 1-2 miles long.

It is also one of the first zoos in the world organized by habitats. These trails include the Medtronic Minnesota Trail. This features the animals native to the Nothern Trail of Minnesota.

In the Tropic Trail, there are animals from the tropics that live above the 45th parallel. In Discovery Bay there are marine animals as well as Russia’s Grizzly Coast. It features animals from the far east of Russia and Kamchatka Penisula.

There is also the Wells Fargo Family Farm for guests to enjoy. The Minnesota Zoo has plenty of variety for guests to choose from to have a fun yet educational day.

10. Lincoln Park Zoo

Location: 2001 North Clark Street – Chicago, IL 60614-4757,

Contact Number: 312-742-2000

Price of admittance: Adults $13.95, children from age 2-12 $11.95 and senior citizens $11.95.  Parking is free. 

Located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park and first opened in 1868. The Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in America. The property is 35-acres and is home to over 1,100 animals of 200 various species.

These include polar bears, penguins, monkeys and gorillas, wild and big cats, and many more. Fan-favorite exhibits include the Helen Brach Primate House. The Farm-in-the-zoo, McCormick Bird House, and many more.

The zoo also boasts with their new additions born recently. These include three baby snow monkeys, a baby Bactrian camel, and the cutes one of all the baby Grévy’s Zebra. The Lincoln Park Zoo prides itself on not only providing a safe home for their animals.

But also their future continuation through conservation efforts. This is one zoo that must not be missed as it offers a unique experience for each guest.

9. Memphis Zoo

Location: 2000 Prentiss Pl, Memphis – Tennesee 38112

Contact Number: 901-333-6500

Price of admittance: Adults $18, children from age 2-11 $13 and senior citizens $17.  Parking is $5. 

Located in Overton Park and first opened in 1906. The Memphis Zoo property is on 76 acres with 55 acres fully developed. It homes over 3,500 animals with 500 various species.

The enclosures are divided into three major zones that have 19 large exhibits. Each mimics the natural habitats for the animals. Guests can walk the exhibits or make use of a tram provided by the Zoo that also offers guided tours.

Some of the favorite exhibits include the Primate Canyon, Herpetarium, River Hippo Camp, and Once Upon A Farm to name a few. Guests should prepare themselves for a lot of walking if they do not make use of the tram.

Yet, it is worth every mile. Guests will not be disappointed when visiting this amazing zoo.

8. Kansas City Zoo

Location: 6800 Zoo Dr, Kansas City – MO 64132

Contact Number: 816-595-1234

Price of admittance: Adults $16, children from age 3-11 $13 and senior citizens $17.  Parking is free.

Located in the Kansas City Swope Park and first founded in 1909. The property is 202 acres and homes over 1,300 animals of various species.

Thanks to the 95-acres exhibits the Kansas City Zoo is considered to be one of the best in the US. Including the Australian animal exhibit, the African exhibit, and many more. The zoo is divided into the Australian, African, Tiger Trail, The Valley, and the KidZone.

That makes five zones for guests to stroll through and explore. Guests love the realistic Orangutang Canopy where they can learn fun facts and see how the animals live their lives.

The educational yet fun exhibit shows guests what they do and how they keep busy and healthy. Guests can also visit the Helzberg Penguin Plaza. There they can watch the penguins play above and underwater.

7. Henry Doorly Zoo

Location: 3701 S 10th St, Omaha – Nebraska, 68108

Contact Number: 402-733-8401

Price of admittance: Adults $18.95, children from age 3-11 $12.95 and senior citizens $17.95.  Parking is free.

Located in Omaha, Nebraska, and first opened in 1894. The Henry Doorly Zoo is named “The World’s Best Zoo” by TripAdvisor.

The property is 130-acres and homes over 17,000 animals of over 960 various species. The zoo is world-famous for its animal research and conservation efforts. The newest resident to the zoo is a baby giraffe born in 2017.

It has the largest cat complex in the whole of North America. They also have the largest indoor swamp in the world called the Kingdom of the Night.

The Desert Dome is one of the largest indoor deserts in the world. The Lied Jungle is the biggest indoor rainforest in the world. With all this in mind, it is a sure thing that this Zoo is one not to be missed. 

6. Houston Zoo

Location: 6200 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, – Texas, 77030

Contact Number: 713-533-6500

Price of admittance: Adults $19.95, children from age 3-11 $15.95 and senior citizens $14.95. Parking is $6 per car however the shuttle is free.

Located in Hermann Park and first opened in 1922. The property is 55-acres and homes over 6,000 animals of 900 different species. Their continuous support of the survival of endangered species has made them world-famous. 

Along with wildlife and threatened habitats all around the world. The zoo works with several species of endangered animals. Like the Texas sea turtles, the Galapagos tortoise, the Bornean orangutan. To name a few.  The large Kip Aquarium has over 200 different marine species.

Which also includes the range of rescued sea turtles. Guests can see the rare maned wolf, African lions & painted dogs and, Malayan tigers in the Carnivores exhibit. 

5. Dallas Zoo

Location: 650 S R.L. Thornton Fwy, Dallas – Texas, 75203

Contact Number: 469-554-7500 

Price of admittance: Adults $15, children from age 3-11 $12. Parking is $8. 

Located in Marsalis Park and first opened in 1888. The property is 106-acres and homes over 2,000 animals of more than 400 various species.

It is the largest and oldest zoo in the whole of Texas. The Koala Walkabout, the Gorilla Research Center, and the Giants of the Savanna are a few of the exhibits.

They are all fan favorites and so much more. The Endangered Tiger Habitat is designed to look like a regrowing logged forest. Guests can see  Sumatran and Malayan tigers through glass viewing areas.

Guests can use walkways throughout the entire property. They lead to shallow pools and shaded areas. There are climbing trees, streams, and rock areas for guests to enjoy.

4. Brookfield Zoo

Location: 8400 W 31st St, Brookfield – IL, 60513

Contact Number: 708-688-8000

Price of admittance: Adults $13.50, children from age 3-11 $9.50 and senior citizens $9.50. Parking is $9.75

Located in Chicago and first opened in 1934. The property is 216-acres and homes over 2,300 animals of 450 various species. The zoo is proudly known as one of the few zoos that do not use changes.

Instead, they use ditches and moats to protect both guests and animals. In 1960 the Brookfield Zoo was the first American zoo that offered an indoor dolphin exhibit. It was also the first to home giant pandas.

In 1980, The Brookfield Zoo had opened the very first indoor rainforest exhibit. The Australia House and the Clouded Leopard Rainforest are some of the popular exhibits.

Yet, there are plenty more to choose from. This zoo offers a lot to its guests and is a definite must-see when you are planning to go to Illinois.

3. Pittsburgh Zoo

Location: 1 Wild Pl, Pittsburgh – PA, 15206-1176

Contact Number: 412-665-3640

Price of admittance: Adults $16.95, children from age 2-13 $16.95 and senior citizens $15.95. Parking is free. 

Located in Pittsburgh’s Highland Zoo and first opened in 1898. The property is 77-acres that homes over 4,000 animals of over 470 different species.

Twenty of said species are listed as threatened. Meaning they could become endangered if they are not helped soon. There are seven thematic zones in which the zoo is separated. The Asain Forest has several species from both Southeastern and Eastern Asia.

These include the snow leopards, the Amur leopards, and tigers. Komodo dragons, and even red pandas. The Tropical Forest homes primates in its indoor rainforest. There are 16 species of gorillas, monkeys, gibbons, orangutans, and lemurs.

The Kid’s Kingdom offers fun interactive exhibits where they can take part. For example the meerkat exhibit. Children can crawl through tunnels to see what it’s like to be a meerkat. The aquarium is a two-story building that is over 45,000-square-foot. It features several exhibits and habitats for their aquatic life for guests to enjoy.

2. Denver Zoo

Location: 2300 Steele St, Denver – CO 80205

Contact Number: 720-337-1400

Price of admittance: Adults $20, children from ages 3-12 $14 and senior citizens $17. Parking is $4.00 per hour and $24.00 per day. 

Located in the Denver City Park and first opened in 1896. The property is 8-acres and homes over4,100 animals from over 600 various species. In 1896 the zoo received a donation of an American Black bear.

This donation started the construction of Bear Mountain. It was the very first zoo in the US to not have the animals live in cages. Instead, they kept them in a naturalistic habitat that would feel more real for the animals. After Bear Mountain, the zoo started construction on the Primate Panorama.

It is made from mesh in the shape of large open tents so that the animals could move freely and safely. The Denver Zoo is active in supporting research and conservation efforts. With over 600 teams in 60 countries around the world.

They offer the Close Animal Encounter experience. It allows visitors to go backstage and meet several different types of animals. These include gorillas, birds, elephants, snakes, and many more. They can learn about these animals and their lives from the keepers.

Not only is the Denver Zoo one of the oldest zoos in America it is also one of the best. Definitely add it to your bucket list!

1. Bronx Zoo

Location: 2300 Southern Blvd, Bronx – New York,  10460

Contact Number: 718-220-5100

Price of admittance: Adults $22.95, children from ages 3-12 $14.95 and senior citizens $20.95. Parking is 15 for cars and $18 for buses. 

Located in Bronx Park and first opened in 1899 and is the biggest metropolitan zoo in the world. The property is around 265-acres and homes over 4,000 animals of 600+ different species.

All animals live in large naturalistic enclosures. There are currently 22 exhibits for guests to enjoy. Currently, they are managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The most popular exhibits include; Madagascar!, African Plains, Tiger Mountain, and several more. Guests can enjoy the daily penguin and sea lion feedings as they stroll through all the exhibits.