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  • Writer's pictureSun Country

Mane attractions: 10 zoos to visit this summer

Dad and daughter looking at a bird at a zoo

Summer vacations are a great time to kick back and relax, but they’re also a great opportunity for some fun that’s a little more on the wild side. Seeing animals from around the world in an up-close setting can be an inspiring experience and a great opportunity to learn more about the natural world.   


That’s why we’ve curated a list of 10 zoos in some of our favorite summer destinations – all of which also focus on educating visitors on the animals they serve, conservation efforts, and research to help endangered species and disappearing habitats.   

1. Bronx Zoo – New York City, NY 

If you’re taking the family to New York, don’t miss the Bronx Zoo’s 265 acres of more than 10,000 animals. It can be hard to see the whole place in one trip, so we suggest checking out their itinerary guides as an excellent place to start. 


2. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo – Colorado Springs, CO 

What was once a private exotic animal collection is now a well-respected educational facility nestled on a mountainside in Colorado Springs. A portion of every ticket sold goes to conservation efforts, and visitors can explore exhibits ranging from the African plains to the wilds of the Rockies.  


3. Cincinnati Zoo – Cincinnati, OH 

This is the nation’s second-oldest zoo, known for its innovative birthing programs. While working to boost populations of critically endangered species like the Sumatran rhino, it also gives guests a great shot at seeing some seriously cute baby animals.  


4. Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium – Omaha, NE 

Often at the top of the list of best zoos in the nation, Omaha’s Henry Doorly features a well-rounded list of animals – including the world’s largest indoor rainforest and a 70-foot shark tunnel. Additionally, the zoo’s impressive Molecular Genetics Department has made important contributions to conservation efforts worldwide. 


5. Minnesota Zoo – Apple Valley, MN 

We’d be remiss not to mention the zoo in our own backyard. Just 20 miles south of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the Minnesota Zoo is one of the largest, with nearly 500 acres to explore including the newly opened Treetop Trail. Learn about animals native to our home state, like wolves and bison, or discover how the zoo has contributed to conservation efforts of animals around the world, like the Asian wild horse.   


6. Philadelphia Zoo – Philadelphia, PA 

The Philly Zoo is officially America’s oldest. It opened in 1874 and has been a leader in wildlife care ever since. Its groundbreaking Zoo360 trail system connects habitats, giving animals more room to roam and providing visitors with unique views. 


7. San Diego Zoo & Safari Park – San Diego, CA 

The San Diego Zoo and its sister Safari Park are world-famous -- and for a reason. The zoo aims to share its conservation efforts through immersive experiences for visitors, and guests of the zoo  come face to face with one of the largest collections of rare and endangered animals in the world.  


8. Smithsonian’s National Zoo – Washington, DC 

As part of the Smithsonian Institution, admission here is free. It gives visitors access to more than 1,800 animals, including exhibits like The Great Cats, the Orangutan Transport System, and the recently announced return of the giant pandas


9. St. Louis Zoo – St. Louis, MO 

The St. Louis Zoo is one of the top attractions in the city, and admission is free. This zoo, dedicated to research, won the Worldwide Conservation Award in 2022 for its work in the Galapagos Islands. It is home to more than 16,000 animals, including Andean bears, black rhinos, polar bears, and more. 


10. ZooMontana – Billings, MT 

While on the smaller side compared to other zoos on this list, Montana’s only zoo still has plenty to offer. It’s a great opportunity to see and learn about native Montanan species like the grizzly bear and gray wolf and is also home to international species like red pandas and takins.  


Ready for a walk on the wild side? Get that summer trip on the books. Get To Going.  


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