People may have mixed opinions on zoos, but they've been a fun family pastime for years. Adults and children alike are curious about the many different species in our world, and it is through zoos and aquariums that we actually get to visit them up close. Whilst there are excellent zoos and no lack of bad eggs in the bunch, paying a visit to those that go above and beyond whilst working hard in the world of animal conservation can truly be an enriching and educational experience.

9 Los Angeles Zoo

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens has been open since 1966, and it works hard through its various program to educate the public about animal conservation and care. The zoo cares for over 2,200 different animals, representing 270 species. More than 58 of those species are endangered, and the zoo's mission statement states their desire to create an environment for recreation and discovery, in hopes that through discovery, people develop an appreciation for all wildlife.

There are many things to do when visiting the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, including giraffe feedings, mingling with flamingos, and behind-the-scenes tours where you get to see and appreciate all the work and effort that goes into caring for the animals!

Related: 10 Zoos From Around The World Worth Planning A Whole Trip For

8 Riverbanks Zoo & Gardens

Riverbanks Zoo & Gardens is known as South Carolina's favorite spot for families to visit, and there are so many awesome activities to take part in when you are there. Their botanical gardens alone are stunning, and they are recognized as being one of the best botanical gardens in the nation. They even offer a children's garden, where kids can take part in a dinosaur dig! The zoo has over 2,000 animals to see in addition to their beautiful gardens, and the even have day camps for kids, summer night movies at the zoo, and specialized tours around the zoo.

7 Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Disney is known for many things, especially their amazing theme parks throughout the world. These places truly are magical to experience, and Disney's Animal Kingdom is no different. It is by far the largest of all the Disney theme parks at over 580 acres, and it is home to a variety of animals and plants.

6 Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo was originally known as Chicago Zoological Park, and it was founded in 1934 on its 216 acres. This zoo is famous for their open-air, unbarred enclosures which provides a much more pleasant habitat for the animals living there. The zoo is home to 2,000 animals, which includes the black rhinoceros, wombats, kangaroos, ibex, and baboons.

5 Smithsonian's National Zoo

One of the things that is amazing about the Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute is that it is completely free to enter! There is no admission charge and the zoo is open 364 days every year. As one of the oldest zoos in the United States, the zoo has been in operation since 1889, and it belongs to Smithsonian Institution, the world's biggest research and museum complex.

4 San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is a well-known zoo in California, and it is certainly a popular tourist attraction in the area. It is home to 4,000 animals that represent 800 species! What makes the San Diego Zoo so popular is that is has one of the biggest collections of rare and endangered animals in the world, including the giant panda, clouded leopard, and Galápagos tortoise.

3 Bronx Zoo

Open since 1899, the Bronx Zoo is the largest urban zoo in the country, sitting on 265 acres of land just a few miles away from Yankee Stadium. With over 6,000 species, there is lots to see! Due to the size of the zoo, there is a Zoo Shuttle that you can buy tickets for, in order to cover more of the zoo in one day.

The Minnesota Zoo was originally called the Minnesota Zoological Garden when it first opened its doors in 1978 and has since changed to Minnesota Zoo. It is home to more than 4,500 animals, and it is the first zoo to have ever arranged its animals based on their ideal environments (rather than by species). The zoo also promotes conservation and awareness through its many educational programs.

Some of the fun activities that people can experience at the zoo include group overnight packages that you can arrange, guided tours with an experienced zookeeper, backstage passes to view the behind-the-scenes action at the zoo, and family zoo adventures that caters to young children and their guardians and provide lots of fun for everyone to do.

2 Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

In terms of acreage, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is by far one of the largest in the country at 582 acres. This enormous attraction offers visitors an 18-hole golf course, a water park, and an amusement park. There are over 11,000 animals that call this zoo home, representing close to 600 species.

This zoo is also famous for its well-loved zookeeper Jack Hanna, known as "Jungle Jack", who has been on countless television programs over the years promoting animal awareness and conservation and even has his own successful television show. Between the famous zookeeper, tons of attractions, and thousands of animals, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is sure to be a memorable experience!

Related: 10 Things People Do In Zoos That Annoy The Staff

1 Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo

The Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium first opened its doors in 1894 as Riverview Park, and since then has remained the top attraction in Nebraska, and has been named one of the best zoos in the world. With over 160 acres of land, the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium are home to a variety of animals, with many of them rare and endangered. The Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium is by far one of the best, and the zoo's infamous Desert Dome provides visitors with a glimpse into a real desert ecosystem under the world's largest geodesic dome.

There are trams that run throughout the zoo to take visitors from one attraction to another. It also offers many wonderful educational programs for visitors to attend, to learn more about the amazing animals that live there.

Next: These Are The World’s Best Zoos To Visit In 2022