While many travelers explore new destinations to discover new cuisines or stunning landscapes, some do so for wildlife conservation. These animal lovers enjoy watching animals in their natural habitat, whether sloths in a Costa Rican jungle or whale watching in the Pacific Ocean. However, travelers don't always have to venture into remote islands or vast landscapes to enjoy the beauty of animals in their natural habitats.

Many zoos worldwide do an excellent job of recreating a wildlife's natural habitat while dazzling visitors with these majestic animals. In addition, self-guided exhibit tours are immersive for guests to learn about exotic (and native) wildlife. However, in the US, several zoos across the country take it a step further and offer a variety of experiences and activities for visitors. Animal lovers will love these zoos for their diverse offerings, which are considered some of the best in the country!

9 San Diego Zoo

  • Location : 2929 Zoo Drive Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Highlights : Tourists love the San Diego Zoo for its animal diversity and its offerings for a variety of interesting experiences. This internationally-recognized zoo has tickets available for experiences like learning about wild cats (and even petting one during the tour) or embarking on a 5-hour VIP experience tour! Guests can even navigate their way around the zoo using their Skyfari Aerial Tram, miniature train, deluxe carts, and double-decker buses!

RELATED: The Complete Guide On How To Plan A Full Day At The San Diego Zoo

8 Smoky Mountain Deer Farm & Exotic Petting Zoo

  • Location : 478 Happy Hollow Ln, Sevierville, TN 37876-2002
  • Highlights:  The Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo is home to animals travelers may not find in other US zoos, like miniature horses, camels, and even cute zonkies! This 140-acre zoo is situated in Tennessee's mountainous region and also houses a horse stable and petting zoo. Younger visitors can try their hand at pony riding, while older visitors can check out the zoo's riding stables.

7 Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

  • Location:  3400 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45220-1333
  • Highlights : Being the second oldest zoo in the US, this Ohio zoo has a reputation to uphold as being one of the best wildlife conservation centers in the country. The zoo is known for its superb  manatee exhibit  and Fiona, the world's most famous hippo!

6 Henry Doorly Zoo

  • Location:  3701 S 10th St, Omaha, NE 68107-2200
  • Highlights: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is home to over 160-acres of property, which is home to stunning habitats that resemble wildlife environments in Asia, Africa, and other world areas. This Omaha zoo is also known for its massive indoor desert with a sunroom, which houses exotic animals and reptiles. Visitors traveling with family can also reserve a spot for the Sleeping Bag Safaris, where guests can camp at the zoo overnight and fall asleep to soothing animal sounds.

5 Saint Louis Zoo

  • Location:  1 Government Dr, Saint Louis, MO 63110-1332
  • Highlights:  The Saint Louis Zoo is home to over 12,000 animals ! Attracting over 3 million visitors every year, the Saint Louis Zoo is known for taking great care of its animal residences. Budget travelers will love the zoo because admission is free, and is recognized as one of the best free attractions in North America! Otherwise, visitors will have to pay a small fee to see unique attractions like the Dinoroarus, Stingrays At Caribbean Cove, and the Sea Lion Show.

4 Bronx Zoo

  • Location:  2300 Southern Blvd, Bronx, NY 10460-1090
  • Highlights:  Being the largest city zoo in the country, the Bronx Zoo houses over 6,000 animals , while being at the heart of the city. Visitors can enjoy fun experiences like wildlife encounters and meet animals like cheetahs and porcupines! Aside from other immersive activities like animal feedings and riding the bug carousel, guests can also get a little dose of adrenaline at the Bronx Zoo's aerial treetop course.

RELATED: The Bronx Zoo: A Guide To Its Best Animal Tours & Special Events

3 Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

  • Location:  370 Zoo Pkwy, Jacksonville, FL 32218-5770
  • Highlights:  Florida is known for its sandy beaches and palm trees , but the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. With 100-acres under their belt, this Florida zoo is well-renowned for its animal wellness team, so animal lovers can be rest-assured that animals at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens are well-tended to. With over 2,000 animals , travelers can embark on family-friendly tours, watch live animal feedings, or even speak to zookeepers during special events.

2 Houston Zoo

  • Location:  6200 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030-1710
  • Highlights:  Encompassing over 55-acres, the Houston Zoo mixes wildlife education with conservation and interactive experiences for guests. Travelers with children will love the Wildlife Carousel at the Children's Zoo. Additionally, travelers visiting with family can book Houston Zoo's Family Nature Experiences, which includes park admission, a guided tour, and exclusive access to the zoo after-hours!

1 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

  • Location:  4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906-5755
  • Highlights:  This Colorado zoo was recognized by USA Today as one of the best zoos in North America and for a good reason. Visitors can learn more about the diverse wildlife worldwide while partaking in immersive experiences like animal feedings and painting with mammals (like cute porcupines)!

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