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  #1  
Old 07-27-2012, 02:35 PM
Mdcastle Mdcastle is offline
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Best and worst zoos in the US.

As part of my upcoming travel plans I'm looking for any zoos in the US that are worth traveling to see. I know the San Diego zoo is highly regarded. IRC the Toledo Zoo has been world famous for a long time, I recall hearing about it when I was a kid even, but my online research seems to sugest that the Columbus Zoo is a lot better now.

As far as the worst, I'll throw out the Minnesota Zoo. I actually like the Brutalist buildings, but it was built at a time when political correctness was in full swing. Originally they didn't even call it a "zoo". There's no arguing that lions and tigers in cages was a bad thing, but the MN Zoo swung the other direction. Instead of lions and tigers there were beavers and lemurs, which you might see from a long distance away provided they weren't hiding somewhere in their exhibit. The one marqee exhibit, the Beluga wales, went away years ago. The MN Zoo has gotten better but it's still underwhelming IMHO.

Last edited by Mdcastle; 07-27-2012 at 02:36 PM..
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  #2  
Old 07-27-2012, 02:48 PM
Barkis is Willin' Barkis is Willin' is offline
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Indeed, Jack Hanna, who some people around here really don't like, did a lot to make the Columbus Zoo world class. It's fantastic. Toledo is also good, as is Cincinatti. San Diego has a great reputation, although I couldn't say from experience. As for worst, I don't think I've been to a zoo that I thought was just terrible. Apparently Columbus was pretty bad before Jack fixed it up.
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Old 07-27-2012, 03:11 PM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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San Diego Zoo, of course, gets my vote for Best. I was astonished when I first visited and learned that they had Komodo Dragons and Clouded Leopards (and at the time) about the only koalas outside of Australia, in addition to an excellent and well-stocked zoo.

Denver also has a great zoo



I'm not sure who's got the worst zoo. Boston's used to be surprisingly bad, but they've improved enormously over the past decades. New York's Central park Zoo used to be animals in small, bare cages, but they've re-0imagined and expanded their zoo twice now, and it's great.
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Old 07-27-2012, 03:17 PM
Atomic Mama Atomic Mama is offline
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I used to enjoy the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, but I haven't been there in decades & don't know how "politically correct" or "ecological / green" it is these days. There was a terrific great ape exhibit -- plate glass & the gorillas would get (terrifyingly) close! One nice addition to see is the Lincoln Park Botanical Garden, within walking distance due north.

Ditto for the Brooklyn Zoo, in a suburb of Chicago. Very BIG & a good long walkaround.

OTOH, the Anchorage (Alaska) Zoo is very special, also. There's even a SNOW LEOPARD and they shipped their one elephant down to a rehab/retirement place in Tennessee, IIRC.
Also - many of the animals on exhibit were injured & would not be living now if not for the zoo being set up properly to take care of them: i.e., moose, eagles (I think), wolves, bears. Great setting at the edge of the mountains, in a piney/coniferous area with winding paths & not ALL FLAT & CEMENT.
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Old 07-27-2012, 03:41 PM
astorian astorian is online now
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Among the ones I've really liked:

1) I absolutely loved the New Orleans Zoo, but I saw it before Hurricane Katrina, and don't know how fully and well it's been restored.

2) San Diego, of course.

3) The Fort Worth Zoo is very nice, but despite its small size, the best zoo in Texas may be the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, down in the Rio Grande Valley.

Last edited by astorian; 07-27-2012 at 03:41 PM..
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  #6  
Old 07-27-2012, 03:43 PM
campp campp is offline
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The Phoenix Zoo is pretty good, with recent new developments for primates and rays.
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Old 07-27-2012, 03:49 PM
nogravity nogravity is offline
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In the Chicago suburbs it's Brookfield Zoo. I haven't been there in a long time but I remember it was pretty nice. Also, the Milwaukee Zoo was always touted as a great zoo (at least in Chicago) but when I went there I wasn't that impressed.
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Old 07-27-2012, 03:51 PM
TheBoltEater TheBoltEater is offline
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Part of what makes the San Diego Zoo so great is the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (which everyone around here still generally refers to by its old name "the Wild Animal Park"). It's 1800 acres and absolutely amazing (and, as it happens, is nowhere near the actual Zoo, but you can buy tickets for both).
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  #9  
Old 07-27-2012, 03:53 PM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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Major zoos and aquariums belong to a professional trade association, AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums). They have (or once had?) a list of Top 10 and Worst 10, although I would be surprised if that's publicly available. Still, you might find useful information on their site.

They also have a write-up on Wikipedia here, and a list of member facilities here, which even includes the web links for all of them!

San Diego Zoo is, as everyone knows (I'm sure), a WORLD-FAMOUS WORLD-CLASS zoo. You could spend morning to night there and still not see it all. And that's just the in-town zoo. They also have a Wild Animal Safari facility way out in the boondocks, and that's a full day excursion too. ETA: Senegoid agrees with TheBoltEater: Check it out!

Last edited by Senegoid; 07-27-2012 at 03:56 PM..
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  #10  
Old 07-27-2012, 04:05 PM
Sehmket Sehmket is offline
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In recent years, I've been to both the Louisville and Cincinnati zoos, and have enjoyed both trips. Louisville is surprisingly large.

There's also this place in Ohio, which is kind of like a zoo: http://www.africansafariwildlifepark.com/
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  #11  
Old 07-27-2012, 04:08 PM
Sicks Ate Sicks Ate is offline
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A lot of people grouse about The Kansas City Zoo, especially if they haven't been for a while. But it has progressed, and will only continue to improve. Today, a new tiger habitat opened. A polar bear was added within in the last couple years, and a penguin exhibit and great ape habitat are already in the works.

Add to that a recently approved sales tax that more than doubles the zoo's budget, and it will really be something to look forward to.
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  #12  
Old 07-27-2012, 04:14 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Tulsa, OK has a surprisingly good zoo. I believe the New Orleans Audubon zoo has been fully restored since Katrina. I used to live next to it and it is a great one by any standard. The Boston area zoos aren't terrible these days but they don't match the quality of other cities and they are bad for a city of its size.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 07-27-2012 at 04:17 PM..
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  #13  
Old 07-27-2012, 04:17 PM
Sehmket Sehmket is offline
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Missed the edit window, but THIS was the Safari place in Ohio I was thinking of: http://www.thewilds.org Looks to have a better variety of animals, a couple nice hotel options, and some neat activities, like a zipline safari.

Also, there's TWO Safari adventure places in Ohio!?
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Old 07-27-2012, 04:23 PM
FairyChatMom FairyChatMom is online now
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When we moved to Jacksonville, FL, in the early 80s, the zoo was pathetic - a remnant of eons gone by with small concrete cages, a tiny elephant house, and overall, it was not very nice. Then they started working on it. We watched it as it transformed from crap to amazing. We were members From 1995 till we moved away. We haven't lived in that area in over 8 years, so I don't have recent experience, but as far as I know, it's still terrific. So I recommend checking out the Jacksonville Zoo.
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  #15  
Old 07-27-2012, 04:26 PM
lisacurl lisacurl is offline
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The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans didn't have much post-Katrina damage from which to recover. It's on the river levee, so there was no flooding but probably trees down throughout the park. Staff members rode out the storm in the zoo itself and stayed on to care for the animals. I don't think they lost more than 2 or 3 animals. The Aquarium, on the other hand, was practically wiped out because of the lack of electricity.

I've been to both in the last six months or so, and you'd never know anything had happened. (It was seven years ago, after all.)

I'm old enough to remember the old Audubon Zoo which was once memorably described as "Angola Penitentiary for animals."

Edit to add that if anyone is traveling to NOLA for the zoo, be sure to check out a swamp tour and see the animals in their own habitat. Wait until at least October or November, though! It is ungodly hot here right now.

Last edited by lisacurl; 07-27-2012 at 04:27 PM..
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  #16  
Old 07-27-2012, 04:28 PM
Arrendajo Arrendajo is offline
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Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha is one of the top zoos in the country. They have a large multi-level indoor rainforest (I used to hang out there for hours to avoid the winter weather) a desert exhibit under a gigantic glass dome, a top-notch aquarium, a world-renown big cat breeding program, IMAX, a real steam train, restaurant, etc. etc. If you are interested in visiting one of the country's best zoos, go there.
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  #17  
Old 07-27-2012, 04:28 PM
Sicks Ate Sicks Ate is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FairyChatMom View Post
When we moved to Jacksonville, FL, in the early 80s, the zoo was pathetic - a remnant of eons gone by with small concrete cages, a tiny elephant house, and overall, it was not very nice. Then they started working on it. We watched it as it transformed from crap to amazing. We were members From 1995 till we moved away. We haven't lived in that area in over 8 years, so I don't have recent experience, but as far as I know, it's still terrific. So I recommend checking out the Jacksonville Zoo.
I visited there about 2 years ago, and it was VERY nice!
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  #18  
Old 07-27-2012, 04:32 PM
DCnDC DCnDC is offline
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The National Zoo in DC should get a mention. Has a nice, diverse collection of animals and exhibits and bonus points for free admission every day of the year.
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Old 07-27-2012, 04:39 PM
charmstr charmstr is offline
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I have very fond memories of the National Zoo in Washington D.C. It's free, it's beautiful, and it has pandas. Back in the late 1980's I lived about a half a mile from the zoo's rear entrance. I would wake up each morning to the sound of big cats.
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Old 07-27-2012, 04:44 PM
Loach Loach is online now
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If you are travelling across the US looking for zoos you can't miss America's first zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo. A very nice zoo. I try to go a couple times a year.

Last edited by Loach; 07-27-2012 at 04:45 PM..
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  #21  
Old 07-27-2012, 04:45 PM
Enola Gay Enola Gay is offline
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Many have already been mentioned, but in terms of best zoos here are my picks:

1. Cincinnati Zoo--fabulous white tiger exhibit & I think they were first with the natural habitat thing.

2. San Diego--they also recently took over the Wild Animal Park (which is not in San Diego, but in Carlsbad). The Wild Animal Park is sort of like going on a safari--you can also camp there and hear the animals at night, which is cool. Only down side to SD Zoo & Wild Animal Park is the entrance fee, which is pretty hefty.

3. I also love the National Zoo in DC, but mostly because it is free and rarely crowded. You just walk right in like you are going to a park or something--no lines or anything.

In terms of worst zoos, the LA Zoo gets my vote. The exhibits are ugly and the animals are often missing from the cages. Also, there is no shade to be found as you walk around the park, so unless you like the hot sun beating down on you all day long--avoid this zoo. They have made some improvements, but it still sucks.
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  #22  
Old 07-27-2012, 06:00 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
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Best zoos:

San Diego Zoo, as others have mentioned
Bronx Zoo, though I wish they hadn't gotten rid of the Sky-fari. The walk from one end of the zoo to the other is very long.
National Zoo in Washington DC
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
St Louis Zoo (free after 5 PM, IIRC)

Only zoo I've been to that I didn't care for that much was Zoo America in Hershey, right near Hershey Park. Long, winding paths to see animals that are relatively common.

Some smaller, more specialized animal places that are very enjoyable:

The Black Hills Reptile Gardens, near Mount Rushmore - they have giant tortoises that you can put a little child on to ride.
Kentucky Down Under, near Mammoth Cave - an Australian-themed zoo where you can actually pet the kangaroos (and they have a cave as well).
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  #23  
Old 07-27-2012, 06:08 PM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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We really liked the San Diego Zoo.

I remember a small one in Amarillo, Texas that was really shit. I bet it's not there anymore. For the sake of the animals, I hope not.
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  #24  
Old 07-27-2012, 06:10 PM
Procrustus Procrustus is online now
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Let me nominate the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle for the top 10 list. Some really fine areas for big animals like Brown bears, great Apes, and orangutangs. Also, large an African Savannah area,Tropical Rain forest, etc. And Penguins. Who doesn't love penguins?
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  #25  
Old 07-27-2012, 06:15 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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Another vote for San Diego Zoo especially when you factor in the Wild Animal Park too.
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  #26  
Old 07-27-2012, 06:27 PM
RetroVertigo RetroVertigo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller View Post
Best zoos:

San Diego Zoo, as others have mentioned
Bronx Zoo, though I wish they hadn't gotten rid of the Sky-fari. The walk from one end of the zoo to the other is very long.
National Zoo in Washington DC
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
St Louis Zoo (free after 5 PM, IIRC)

Only zoo I've been to that I didn't care for that much was Zoo America in Hershey, right near Hershey Park. Long, winding paths to see animals that are relatively common.

Some smaller, more specialized animal places that are very enjoyable:

The Black Hills Reptile Gardens, near Mount Rushmore - they have giant tortoises that you can put a little child on to ride.
Kentucky Down Under, near Mammoth Cave - an Australian-themed zoo where you can actually pet the kangaroos (and they have a cave as well).
[Bolding mine]

The St. Louis Zoo is free admission all day, everyday (as well as the other Forest Park attractions: Art Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Center,...etc). It is also a fantastic place to spend a day, and I would put it up in the top tier of our nations zoo's.
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  #27  
Old 07-27-2012, 06:33 PM
drewtwo99 drewtwo99 is offline
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The portland zoo is great when they have the butterfly room going. It's not all the time though, so you'd have to plan a trip specifically for that.

The San Diego zoo is by far the best zoo I've ever been to, and it is righteously expensive as well.

The Houston Zoo isn't bad at all, especially with the new Africa exhibit.
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  #28  
Old 07-27-2012, 06:48 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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I know the OP said the United States, but I'm throwing in a vote for the Toronto Zoo. It's a great zoo.
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  #29  
Old 07-27-2012, 07:16 PM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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Of the zoos I've been to, the best are:

The San Diego Zoo, which has been mentioned many times
The Cincinnati Zoo, which has been mentioned a few times
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  #30  
Old 07-27-2012, 07:30 PM
Randy Seltzer Randy Seltzer is offline
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Originally Posted by Sicks Ate View Post
A lot of people grouse about The Kansas City Zoo, especially if they haven't been for a while. But it has progressed, and will only continue to improve. Today, a new tiger habitat opened. A polar bear was added within in the last couple years, and a penguin exhibit and great ape habitat are already in the works.

Add to that a recently approved sales tax that more than doubles the zoo's budget, and it will really be something to look forward to.
I specifically came in here to grouse about the Kansas City Zoo. I grew up there and visited only once, but it was an awful and depressing experience. Cramped cement cages; elephants getting snowed on; grimy public areas; few amenities.

However, I haven't been in probably 15 years, so I'm glad to hear it's improved recently.
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  #31  
Old 07-27-2012, 07:31 PM
guizot guizot is offline
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... Wild Animal Park (which is not in San Diego, but in Carlsbad). ...
[nitpick]
Technically, it is in fact in one of the northernmost parts of the San Diego City Limits, (perhaps by design). If you look at this .PDF, it's in the area across San Pasqual Valley Rd (Highway 78) from the "SD Future San Pasqual FS." The mailing address is Escondido, but that's only for postal/zipcode reasons. The city of Escondido would love to be able to say that it were the home of the Wild Animal Park, because Escondido doesn't have much going for itself. (And Carlsbad isn't really close at all.)
[/nitpick]
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  #32  
Old 07-27-2012, 07:58 PM
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If you're in reasonably good health, the Colorado Springs Zoo is pretty good. (It's also a good workout.)

It has a couple claims to fame--(1) it has the largest giraffe herd in the nation, and (2) it's one of only a handful of zoos in the nation that don't receive any taxpayer money whatsoever. In addition, while this is not a typical zoo attraction, admission to the zoo also includes the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun.

http://www.cmzoo.org/
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  #33  
Old 07-27-2012, 08:00 PM
Mdcastle Mdcastle is offline
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So, of the two is Toledo or Columbus better nowdays?
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  #34  
Old 07-27-2012, 08:37 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is online now
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I'm from San Diego, and always maintain an annual pass. Great place.

I adore the Phoenix Zoo. Very up-to-date, and the special area dedicated to local Arizona Desert species was particularly nifty.

On a business trip to Pittsburgh, I visited the zoo there, and very much admired it. It's built on a hillside, so the walking was a bit strenuous, but the enclosures and displays were state-of-the-art modern, and the landscaping and planting was luscious.

The Los Angeles Zoo is pretty good. I know this sounds like faint praise, but "parts of it are excellent." Other parts are showing their age, but they are in a new phase of modernizing and upgrading, so they're definitely still in the game. There was a recent lawsuit filed by animal rights groups over their elephant exhibit, but the zoo essentially won the case. In my opinion, their elephant enclosure was superb, and no one had any basis for a complaint.

ETA: the worst? Well, the Orange County zoo is tiny. It's so darned small, it doesn't even have a restroom! No joke! However, even given that, the enclosures are clean, the animals are well-cared-for, and the place is in the middle of a pretty park with some nice ponds. So, if you live in Orange County (southern California) this is not the worst way to while away an afternoon.

Last edited by Trinopus; 07-27-2012 at 08:39 PM..
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  #35  
Old 07-27-2012, 08:43 PM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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When I lived in southern New Mexico in the 1990s, I once took a drive down to El Paso to check out their zoo. It was a sad sight; some common animals in small cages and "natural" areas, and a lonely elephant, all baking in the desert sun. I saw everything there was to see in about half an hour. Hopefully it's changed since then.
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  #36  
Old 07-27-2012, 10:51 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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Originally Posted by DCnDC View Post
The National Zoo in DC should get a mention. Has a nice, diverse collection of animals and exhibits and bonus points for free admission every day of the year.
It's a nice experience for the visitor, but I think it has a lot of problems in how it's run. The National Zoo seems to be continually plagued by a high number of animal deaths, though, and in recent years it's been criticized for poor training of its staff. It's also been crumbling a bit due to deferred maintenance, which zoo officials have ascribed both to Congressional underfunding and to poor budgeting practices by the zoo.
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  #37  
Old 07-28-2012, 12:07 AM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I know the OP said the United States, but I'm throwing in a vote for the Toronto Zoo. It's a great zoo.
Now if we're leaving the US, then I give a big vote for the Singapore Zoo. Up there with and very possibly tops San Diego.
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  #38  
Old 07-28-2012, 12:42 AM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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Going to the San Francisco Zoo?
Going to the Los Angeles or San Diego Zoo?
On your way from one to the other, don't overlook the Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero, just off Highway 101 about halfway between S.F. and L.A.!

It's at one side of Atascadero Lake Park. You could see the zoo in one day, and maybe it one half hour. It covers about the same ground space, I would estimate, as a typical Wal-Mart store. There are several animals there (even more if you count the ducks in the nearby lake), and a marvelous statue of a tiger swatting a fish out of a pool.


Last edited by Senegoid; 07-28-2012 at 12:45 AM..
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  #39  
Old 07-28-2012, 02:02 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
Now if we're leaving the US, then I give a big vote for the Singapore Zoo. Up there with and very possibly tops San Diego.
Okay, a guy driving back and forth across the United States to look at zoos? An eighty mile detour to Toronto is possible. But I think Singapore is pushing it.
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  #40  
Old 07-28-2012, 03:06 AM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Okay, a guy driving back and forth across the United States to look at zoos? An eighty mile detour to Toronto is possible. But I think Singapore is pushing it.
"I knew I shoulda taken that left toin at Albaqoique."
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  #41  
Old 07-28-2012, 03:56 AM
madmonk28 madmonk28 is online now
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Yeah, but the Singapore Zoo is amazing, especially the Night Safari, just the coolest zoo experience ever.

And another vote for the DC zoo. It's small, but you can just wander in, say hello to an animal or two and wander out. Because it's free, it is more like a part of the neighborhood.
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  #42  
Old 07-28-2012, 09:04 AM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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I must also pipe up for the Toronto Zoo, formerly known as the Toronto Metro Zoo. It's a sensational zoo, often cited as one of the very best in the world. The one drawback is that it's VERY big so bring your walkin' shoes.

I can attest to the fact that the Toledo Zoo deserves its fine reputation.

The DC Zoo is really awesome as well. Though it's small, as has been pointed out, they really do not shortchange you on animals; lots of exhibits at no cost? Can't beat that.
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  #43  
Old 07-28-2012, 08:33 PM
GythaOgg GythaOgg is offline
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Originally Posted by Arrendajo View Post
Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha is one of the top zoos in the country. They have a large multi-level indoor rainforest (I used to hang out there for hours to avoid the winter weather) a desert exhibit under a gigantic glass dome, a top-notch aquarium, a world-renown big cat breeding program, IMAX, a real steam train, restaurant, etc. etc. If you are interested in visiting one of the country's best zoos, go there.
I would have to second this. I've lived in St. Louis all my life and love our free zoo here, but I was very impressed by the Omaha zoo. The domed desert exhibit (with a cave-and-darkness loving animal exhibit area on the floor below it) is very different and well done. I understand both Mutual of Omaha and The Union Pacific support the zoo generously and have helped make it as nice as it is. The only complaint I have is that it's built on a rather steep hill - you start at the top and work your way down. If you don't want to walk back up you pay to take the train. It's a nice train, though, so I didn't mind too much. Highly recommended if you're visiting Omaha.
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  #44  
Old 07-28-2012, 08:44 PM
BrotherCadfael BrotherCadfael is offline
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Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
I must also pipe up for the Toronto Zoo, formerly known as the Toronto Metro Zoo. It's a sensational zoo, often cited as one of the very best in the world. The one drawback is that it's VERY big so bring your walkin' shoes.
I came in to mention Toronto, AND that it is a very long walk!
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  #45  
Old 07-28-2012, 10:31 PM
Lust4Life Lust4Life is offline
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As a foreigner the only American zoo that I've visited was San Diego, which I found to be excellent.
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  #46  
Old 07-28-2012, 10:46 PM
Mdcastle Mdcastle is offline
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To make it clear, I'm not going to drive around the country (and fly to Singapore) just looking at zoos. Since they're something my sister really likes and I'm OK with, I'm looking at "If I want to go to Spingfield, Anystate for some reason is the zoo worthwhile to spend a day if I'm in the area?". This is a spinoff of my other thread where I was looking for amusement parks to go to, and someone suggested Ohio had some nice zoos that would maybe convince my sister we could go there.

Toronto does seem to be a good suggestion because if you go to see Niagara Falls one day, what do you do the next? See the scenic beauty of Rochester?

Last edited by Mdcastle; 07-28-2012 at 10:50 PM..
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  #47  
Old 07-28-2012, 11:16 PM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
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Originally Posted by nogravity View Post
In the Chicago suburbs it's Brookfield Zoo. I haven't been there in a long time but I remember it was pretty nice. Also, the Milwaukee Zoo was always touted as a great zoo (at least in Chicago) but when I went there I wasn't that impressed.
I agree with this on both zoos. I think Brookfield is one of the country's best.

I've also visited the SD Zoo and the Wild Animal Park. I grudgingly admit that they're better.
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  #48  
Old 07-28-2012, 11:24 PM
AncientHumanoid AncientHumanoid is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2002
I enjoyed the Denver, Houston, and San Diego zoos. Is Houston's still free? Was in the 80s, the last time I was there.

I used to get annoyed at the OKC zoo. Dirty, poor layout, enclosures not kept up well, lack of exotic animals, surly employees. But it has improved a great deal in just the past few years. New exhibits, new animals, easier to see the animals, animals seem better off, etc ...
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  #49  
Old 07-28-2012, 11:35 PM
Happy Lendervedder Happy Lendervedder is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2001
If you're ever in southeast Michigan and interested in checking out the Detroit Zoo, don't. Head about 90 minutes south and check out the Toledo Zoo.

It's the only thing I'd ever send anyone into Ohio for.
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  #50  
Old 07-29-2012, 12:14 AM
meanoldman meanoldman is offline
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Yet another vote for the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha NE.
It has a large-ish enclosed rain forest building. A separate desert dome; under the desert dome is the creatures of the night exhibit (stuff that is usually only active at night). A pretty good aquarium which includes a penguin enclosure. A separate butterfly enclosure. A netted bird enclosure that you walk through while the birds are free to fly around. An IMAX. A train. A "skyfari" lift. A decent great ape building. A good feline group. The bear grotto. And that's just the stuff closest to the parking lot.

If you are making a cross country trip checking out zoos, open the atlas and check what's under the staple.
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