The 26 Best Zoos in the U.S. News2america



(Courtesy of Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden)

These zoos provide excellent opportunities to see and learn more about all kinds of animals.

A zoo can be a wonderful spot to see animals from the wild up close. For some, these institutions may conjure images of childhood adventures as places to see creatures from around the world, but they can also stir controversy. Finding zoos and animal parks focused on educating visitors about the importance of all animals, conservation efforts, and research to help aid endangered species and disappearing habitats can help eco-conscious travelers feel good about visiting.

While not all zoos are created equal, the editors at U.S. News used an extensive research process to create this list of the top zoos in the country. All the destinations receive favorable traveler reviews on multiple websites, are accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums – an organization focused on the well-being and care of animals – and have been evaluated by experienced veterinarians and animal care specialists.

Next:What to know before you go

Minnesota Zoo employee studying grasses



(Courtesy of Minnesota Zoo)

What to know before you go

“There are a few key factors that differentiate ethically minded zoos and aquariums,” says Dan Ashe, president and CEO of the AZA. He adds that AZA accreditation is one of the strongest differentiators for zoogoers to consider. “AZA has a rigorous and thorough accreditation process to ensure zoos and aquariums provide the highest animal care and well-being possible.”

Ashe recommends that travelers check out a facility’s website prior to visiting to review its animal well-being standards, educational offerings, conservation efforts and diversity policies. These details, along with behind-the-scenes tours and educational programming, can provide insight and help travelers make an informed decision on whether or not to visit a particular zoo.


Updated on May 25, 2023: This slideshow was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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