Going to the zoo is like traveling around the world, but with the convenience of just a few miles. Zoos allow people to experience wildlife from far off places so that curious tourists can study them up close without fear of getting eaten or mauled.
For the animal lover in all of us, we've compiled a list of 10 amazing zoos around the world that warrant a trip of their own.
10 Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, Israel
Jerusalem is home to a very unique zoo, one that tells the history of Israeli fauna through its exhibits. The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo specifically showcases animals mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. So many animals, such as lions, used to live in Israel during biblical times but have since gone extinct in the area. The zoo is a way for Israel to remember the history of its land; there are even Bible verses next to each animal that happened to be mentioned in it.
9 Bronx Zoo, New York
The Bronx Zoo is towards the top of every top 10 list of American zoos, and for good reason. At 265 acres, this massive zoo is home to over 4000 animals and 650 unique species. Of its 20+ exhibits, some of its most notable include Madagascar, Baboon Reserve, African Plains, and Birds of Prey. It is also the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States. Bronx Zoo's size and quality make it a must-stop on any New York vacation.
8 Arignar Anna Zoological Park, India
The Arignar Anna Zoological Park is the world's largest zoo by area with over 1490 acres to explore. This was India's first public zoo, and it has grown tremendously since it opened to the public in 1861.
Currently, the zoo hosts a wide variety of 169 unique species from around the world and over 2000 animals total. For those traveling in southern India, this zoo is a must-stop!
7 National Zoological Park, Washington D.C.
The National Zoo in DC, part of the Smithsonian Institution, is a very large zoo at 163 acres and a home for 400 different species and 2000 animals total. The zoo is famous for having one of the only Giant Panda exhibits in the United States, along with many other species from around the world. The zoo focuses on conservation and education, and thanks to the Smithsonian, admission is free!
6 Darjeeling Zoo, India
India is home to several high-altitude zoos that showcase the rare animals residing in the Himalayas. Of these zoos, Darjeeling Zoo, located 7153 ft above sea level, is at the highest altitude of all Indian zoos. It is also the largest; the zoo is home to 156 animals, including red pandas, Siberian tigers, snow leopards, and goats. The exotic animals and the incredible views of the mountains also give this zoo a very majestic feeling.
5 Polar Park, Norway
Near the northern tip of Norway is Polar Park, a unique wildlife reserve that features arctic animals in their natural habitat. Polar Park, appropriately named, is the northernmost animal park in the world, located about 115 miles from Tromsø. Since the park was opened in 1994, it has been featuring wolves, moose, reindeer, wolverines, and other Norwegian fauna. There's even a tour of the wolf enclosure available where tourists can get up close and personal with the wolves if they're feeling brave. Make sure to pack a warm coat!
4 Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Australia
The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, located near Brisbane, is Australia's first and largest Koala sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to over 130 koalas, as well as over 100 of Australia's other unique species like the platypus, the kookaburra, the kangaroo, and the emu.
The park offers opportunities for visitors to hold koalas and hand-feed kangaroos, making the experience highly interactive and undeniably adorable!
3 Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center, China
Chengdu is the capital of China's Sichuan Province, but it's also the world capital for pandas. From Chengdu's airport to billboards in the streets, pandas are everywhere. The core of Chengdu's panda craze is its world-famous Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center, a massive facility with large, open enclosures full of Giant Pandas, as well as red pandas. As of 2017, there were 176 Giant Pandas at this base, an astonishing number considering there are less than 2000 pandas left in the wild.
The base is about as close as you can get to experiencing these rare animals in the wild, as the paths to different enclosures are surrounded by a forest of bamboo, and many pandas can be found hanging out in the trees. There are even opportunities for tourists to hold baby pandas. The base is truly the Mecca for anyone who loves pandas.
2 Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Nebraska
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has more unique species of animals than any other zoo in the United States, home to 962 unique species and over 15,000 animals. Opening way back in 1894 as a park, this massive zoo is by far Nebraska's most visited tourist attraction, with millions visiting each year. One of the zoo's highlights includes Lied Jungle, one of the largest indoor rain forest exhibits in the world. Another is the Desert Dome, one of the world's largest indoor deserts, costing $31 million to build back in 2002. When it comes to variety, Omaha's zoo is king.
1 Berlin Zoo, Germany
Germany's oldest zoo is home to the largest diversity of species in the world, with over 1,500 unique species and over 17,000 animals. The zoo has been operating since 1844 and is the most visited zoo in all of Europe. Some of the zoo's highlights include its Panda Garden, Penguin World, Aquarium Berlin, and several others.
For those who love animals of all kinds, Berlin Zoo is the place to see the widest variety of animals anywhere in the world, putting it at the top of any zoo list.