10 Largest Zoos in the United States

People have always been fascinated by the other creatures that we share our planet with. All animals, large and small, play important parts in Earth’s various ecosystems–and it’s only natural to want to learn more about them.

However, it’s not always practical to go out and observe wild animals in their natural habitats, particularly those that are native to faraway areas. But that’s where zoos comes in! They enhance our lives by providing the opportunity to view plants and animals from all around the world in short one trip. While there are countless different zoos scattered throughout the United States, today we’ll be focusing on 10 of the largest zoos in the nation.

  1. Detroit Zoo

Area: 125 acres
Year Opened: 1928
Location: Michigan
Main Attraction: Science on a Sphere and the 4-D Theater

Detroit Zoo
Source: flickr.com

The Detroit Zoo provides numerous habitat exhibits, as well as the largest facility for penguins worldwide. In addition to the interesting animals on display, the rich exhibits of the Detroit Zoo feature more than 700 varieties of plants.

Did You Know?

Funding provided by the Detroit Zoo has assisted the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds to construct a nursery for the African Penguin chicks that they work to rehabilitate.

  1. Henry Doorly Zoo

Area: 130 acres
Year Opened: 1894
Location: Nebraska
Main Attraction: The Lied Jungle and the Desert Dome

Henry Doorly Zoo
Source: wikimedia.org

Winner of TripAdvisor’s 2014 title of “world’s best zoo,” the Henry Doorly Zoo features the largest cat complex in North America. It is also home to one of the world’s largest indoor rainforests, the Lied Jungle.

Did You Know?

One of the featured exhibits at the Henry Doorly Zoo is the “Desert Dome,” the largest glazed geodesic dome in the world and one of the world’s largest indoor deserts.

  1. Los Angeles Zoo

Area: 133 acres
Year Opened: 1966
Location: California
Main Attraction: Rainforest of the Americas and Muriel’s Ranch

Los Angeles Zoo
Source: wikimedia.org

Carefully regulated and maintained by the city of Los Angeles, the LA Zoo pays special attention to animal welfare and the preservation of natural animal habitats. This zoo puts on many different programs to help guests learn to appreciate and respect the animals that live alongside us, and strives to educate its visitors.

Did You Know?

In the year 1970, an African Black Rhino named Twinkletoes gave birth to California’s own very first baby Rhinoceros!

  1. Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Area: 163 acres
Year Opened: 1889
Location: Washington D.C.
Main Attraction: The Great Ape House and Lemur Island

Smithsonian National Zoological Park
Source: flickr.com

Smithsonian National Zoological Park is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. It is part of the Smithsonian Institution, and strives to educate people on the importance of conserving animals and their natural habitats. This zoo is one of Washington D.C.’s most popular tourist destinations, remaining open 364 days a year and charging no admission fee.

Did You Know?

In an extension of the zoo’s conservation and education efforts, around one-fifth of all the species that live there are endangered or threatened.

  1. Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

Area: 170 acres
Year Opened: 1974
Location: South Carolina
Main Attraction: Botanical Garden and Kangaroo Walkabout

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
Source: wikimedia.org

Standing proudly as South Carolina’s leading destination attraction, Riverbanks Zoo & Garden is home to over 2,000 animals and one of the nation’s most highly regarded botanical gardens. Contained within the main Botanical Garden is the children’s garden, where children can explore and even take part in a dinosaur bone dig!

Did You Know?

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden has wholeheartedly taken part in the “Go Green” movement, integrating things like solar power, careful routine litter pick-ups, and facilities that conserve water.

  1. Brookfield Zoo

Area: 215 acres
Year Opened: 1934
Location: Chicago, IL
Main Attraction: Seven Seas Exhibit and the Motor Safari

Brookfield Zoo
Source: wikimedia.org

The Brookfield Zoo sustains around 450 different species of animals, and strives to provide them with quality homes and happy lives. This zoo is known for its unbarred, open-air animal enclosures, and its focus on educating visitors on the delicacy of natural ecosystems.

Did You Know?

The Brookfield Zoo excited the masses by providing the first fully indoor dolphin exhibit, as well as the first fully indoor rainforest simulation. It also formerly boasted the largest indoor zoo exhibit in the world.

  1. Bronx Zoo

Area: 265 acres
Year Opened: 1899
Location: New York
Main Attraction: Congo Gorilla Forest and Jungleworld

Bronx Zoo
Source: wikimedia.org

The renowned Bronx Zoo is home to 4,000 animals of 650 different species. The zoo is now open year-round in order to allow people to appreciate the animals during all seasons. This world-famous zoo not only cares well for its own live exhibits, but supports wildlife conservation efforts as far away as Africa.

Did You Know?

The Bronx Zoo was once home to a few Thylacines, or “Tasmanian Tigers,” although sadly these specimens perished, leading people to suspect that the species may have gone extinct.

  1. Minnesota Zoo

Area: 485 acres
Year Opened: 1978
Location: Minnesota
Main Attraction: Medtronic Minnesota Trail

Minnesota Zoo
Source: wikimedia.org

Formerly known as the Minnesota Zoological Garden, this zoo was one of the first to arrange its animals according to their ideal environments, rather than by individual species. More than 4,300 animals call this zoo their home, and people are provided with plenty of opportunities to view them up close.

Did You Know?

The popular Medtronic Minnesota Trail takes visitors on a journey to observe animals native to the state of Minnesota. The various exhibits give visitors the opportunity to appreciate local wildlife up close.

  1. Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Area: 580 acres
Year Opened: 1998
Location: Florida
Main Attraction: Discovery Island and Dinoland USA

Disney's Animal Kingdom
Source: wikimedia.org

This famous zoological theme park is part of the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Disney’s Animal Kingdom strikes a unique balance and harmony between its zoo exhibits and its exhilarating theme park rides and shows. The well-being of the hundreds of species of animals on display was carefully considered when the park was designed, so that theme park rides and shows would not disturb the animals.

Did You Know?

This zoo’s efforts towards keeping its animals safe are so carefully considered that they include measures such as using only paper straws and drink lids, and biodegradable balloons.

  1. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Area: 580 acres
Year Opened: 1927
Location: Ohio
Main Attraction: Dinosaur Island Boat Ride and the Congo Expedition

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Source: flickr.com

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is the largest zoo in the United States. This massive zoo is home to over 7,000 animals of 800 different species, making it the zoo experience of a lifetime! It also offers summer camps for children and programs for visitors of all ages to learn about the animals in the zoo.

Did You Know?

The Columbus Zoo puts special conservation efforts into housing several endangered species, such as the African grey parrot, the African leopard, and the Black Rattlesnake.

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