TripAdvisor, a leading travel site, today announced the top 10 zoos in the United States, according to the TripAdvisor Popularity Index. Animal aficionados of all ages can take in an array of scales and tails at these animated attractions:
1. Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha’s famous zoo boasts the Desert Dome – the largest indoor desert in the world, which spans 84,000 square feet and is home to a variety of vegetation and a colony of critters. Travelers can also take in the Lied Jungle, a rainforest setting featuring cascading waterfalls and monkeys jumping from tree to tree. Admission costs $13.50 for adults (ages 12 and up), $12.50 for seniors, and $9 for children (ages three to 11); children under two get in for free.
2. St. Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, Missouri
Home to more than 650 animals, this popular Midwest zoo features creatures of all kinds. Travelers can immerse themselves in the ten-acre River’s Edge exhibit, a naturalistic habitat featuring roaming hyenas, hippos, elephants and more. Feathered friends-galore can be spotted at the Penguin and Puffin Coast, while Bear Bluffs boasts some less cuddly beasts, such as Grizzlies, Andeans and Sloth bears. Admission is free, but some attractions require a small fee.
3. Cape May County Park & Zoo, Cape May Court House, New Jersey
Situated on the southern Jersey Shore, this wildlife sanctuary showcases more than 250 species of animals. Travelers can acquaint themselves with a bevy of birds, amphibians, reptiles, and furry friends – and, when not gawking at quadrupeds, can wander through one of the lush nature trails, or hop on the train and carousel rides. Admission is free.
4. Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden, Columbia, South Carolina
From African Plains to Lemur Island, this attraction’s exhibits let travelers get up close to more than 2,000 animals and 350 species. Giraffes, zebras, and ostriches roam across a vast expanse resembling the African savanna, while wallabies and kangaroos amble around an interactive walk-through area. Admission costs $11.75 for adults, $10.75 for seniors, and $9.25 for children (ages three to 12); children under two get in for free.
5. Memphis Zoo, Memphis, Tennessee
In the midst of Memphis, travelers can connect with wildlife in an array of exciting settings, including Cat Country, Primate Canyon, and Crocodile Cove. Those wishing to learn more about the zoo’s residents can also take in one of the daily shows, which star a lineup of cuddly cast mates. Admission costs $15 for adults (ages 12 to 59), $14 for seniors (age 60 and up), and $10 for children (ages two to 11).
6. San Diego Zoo, San Diego, California
Set across 100 acres of sun-drenched SoCal soil, this zoo is home to more than 3,700 rare and endangered residents, including giant panda bears, as well as an exotic collection of flora and fauna. Animal lovers can even sleep over at this wildlife kingdom, and enjoy an after-hours stroll through the grounds, before retiring to their tents. Admission costs $42 for adults (ages 12 and up) and $32 for children (ages three to 11).
7. Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas
This family-friendly attraction lets visitors come face-to-face with exciting species from across the globe. Travelers can visit Malaysian tapirs in the Asian forest, see penguins at play in the Cessna Penguin Cove, or discover the Children’s Farm, where dozens of domestic breeds dwell. Admission costs $13.95 for adults (ages 12 to 61), $11.95 for seniors (age 62 and up), and $8.95 for children (ages three to 11); children under two get in for free.
8. Brevard Zoo, Melbourne, Florida
Built by a community of nature enthusiasts, this sanctuary in the sun showcases several natural habitats, including “Wild Florida”. In this exhibit, travelers can feed white-tailed deer or climb into a kayak for a guided tour through acres of wetlands and their denizens. Admission costs $14.50 for adults (ages 12 and up), $13.50 for seniors, and $10.50 for children (ages two to 12); children under two get in for free.
9. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, Colorado
This elevated establishment mirrors the natural habitats of more than 800 animals. Travelers can view wildlife from across the globe, including giraffes and meerkats in the African Rift Valley and grizzly bears in the Rocky Mountain Wild exhibit. Animal-gazers can also soar like a bird and enjoy panoramic views of the mountains in an open-air chairlift ride. Admission costs $17.25 for adults, $15.25 for seniors (ages 65 and up), and $12.25 for children (ages three to 11); children under two get in for free.
10. Audubon Zoo, New Orleans, Louisiana
At this zoo in the Big Easy, travelers can enjoy a parade of spots, stripes, and scales. Activities at this swamp-side attraction include bug tosses and “Creature Features”, during which patrons can pose for a picture with a critter and learn fascinating facts. Warm-blooded travelers can chill out at the Cool Zoo, a water park that boasts an alligator water slide and water-spitting snakes. Admission costs $16 for adults, $13 for seniors (age 65 and up), and $11 for children (ages two to 12); children under two get in for free.
“The exotic sights and sounds at these zoos offer travelers a virtual round-the-world trip, without the price tag,” said Karen Drake, senior director of communications at TripAdvisor. “Whether it’s gazing at gorillas or peeping at penguins, these wildlife sanctuaries offer herds of fun for adults and children alike.”