I really like to travel (NO FLYING THOUGH!), and we were fortunate enough to do lots of it – before we had so many little kids, of course. We still try to make a yearly trip to Florida, especially while we can still fit the entire family in one car – something that soon won’t be easily accomplished as the kids grow older. At each travel destination, I have to admit that my favorite tourist attraction is always the local zoo. I made a list of all the zoos and/or wildlife parks I have visited, and I hope to add to it soon! Here is the list by state, country, or territory, followed by the city in which it’s located. An asterisk following the zoo means it no longer exists. I put notes about some of the places in italics as sort of a guide in case you’re interested in visiting one of those particular attractions and want some info straight from a tourist’s mouth.
Sea World San Diego
San Diego Zoo
Bird Kingdom Niagara Falls Aviary, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Marineland, Niagara Falls, Ontario – this place is very cool. You can hand-feed deer, Beluga Whales or even Orcas (Killer Whales). You can throw food down to bears who beg and do tricks. There are also a variety of amusement park rides for the whole family. Look at me petting the Orca!
Wooten’s Wilflife Park, Florida Everglades – a cool, family owned place where you can see animals on display; including alligators, crocodiles, and Florida panthers. You can also hold and feed baby alligators! I wonder if they still exist; their website hasn’t been updated since ’06!
Sea World, Orlando
Animal Kingdom, Orlando
Zoo Boise, Boise
Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield – this is the zoo I grew up going to. In the 80’s when I was a frequent visitor, they had many ‘celebrity’ animals, with interesting stories to match.
Shedd Aquarium, Chicago
Peoria Wildlife Park, Peoria
Cosley Zoo, Wheaton
Glen Oak Zoo, Peoria
Henson Robinson Zoo, Springfield
Miller Park Zoo, Bloomington – yuck, not one of my favorite places. Their tiger exhibits consisted of teeny tiny cages, and they had a really scrawny, terrible looking tiger, at least in the late ’90’s when we lived in the area. Hopefully they’ve cleaned the place up.
Scovill Zoo, Decatur
Ft Wayne Children’s Zoo – a perfectly sized zoo to visit with kids. They have a wide variety of animals and some nice exhibits. They just recently built a chair-lift type ride that will take you over the lion exhibit once it’s finished – cool and scary at the same time!
Potawatomi Zoo, South Bend
Fun Spot, Angola
Binder Park, Battle Creek
Minneapolis Zoo, Minneapolis
St Louis Zoo, St. Louis
Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha – I know they’ve since rebuilt it, but when I visited back in 2001-2002, they had a teeny-tiny exhibit for the gorillas, which made them none too happy. I actually witnessed a huge male gorilla charge a kid and beat on the glass from his small exhibit – scary!
Henry Doorly safari park, Omaha
Folsom Children’s Zoo, Lincoln – a very nice little zoo located in the heart of Lincoln. It’s so well-laid out that you can forget you’re in the middle of a capital city, and they have lots of animals in a variety of nice exhibits.
African Safari Wildlife Park, Port Clinton – I love this place! You can feed deer, elands, huge buffalo and a variety of hoofed mammals from the comfort of your own vehicle. In season, they have pig races, animals shows, and camel and pony rides for the little ones.
Akron Zoo, Akron – I was really impressed with the layout, exhibits, and the happiness of the animals – a very impressive little zoo!
Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland
Columbus Zoo, Columbus – a zoo no one had heard about until my favorite celebrity, Jack Hanna got ahold of it and made it a world-reknown facility. Huge zoo, and the only place to see my favorite animals, manatees in my home state of Ohio!
*Sea World Ohio, Aurora – we actually lived in Illinois at the time we visited here, but I’m glad we got to see it before they sold it to Six Flags, who sold it to Cedar Fair. Any of the other Sea Worlds are quite a hike from IL or OH for that matter, especially for a non-flyer such as myself.
Toledo Zoo, Toledo
Pittsburgh Zoo – very impressive zoo! Lots of kid-friendly playgrounds and interactive areas. The polar bear habitat looked really cool – people go through a tunnel that the bears can swim over – but we didn’t see it since the bears weren’t in the pool. I NEED a second look at this zoo and will definitely allow more time when I get back there!
ZOOAMERICA North American Wildlife Park, Hershey – We did not care for this zoo at all. We visited in the late ’90’s, so maybe they’ve added more to it by now. But at that time, they only had animals indigenous to North America, and let’s face it, those are easy to spot in most areas of the U.S. And let’s face it, the real star tourist destination in Hershey is the chocolate factory!
Great Plains Zoo and Museum, Sioux Falls – I visited here with my family when I was 15. This place was amusing to us because attached to the zoo is the museum, which has many taxidermied specimans. We joked that this zoo had more dead animals than live ones!
*Marineland, Rapid City – note the asterisk, this place doesn’t exist anymore, thank goodness. When we visited in the summer of ’93, they had dolphins and sea lions held in such tiny cages and pools, it was sickening. I haven’t been able to find much info on this place, but I’m sure they were shut down because of poor treatment of their animals. I can only hope the animals found a better home.
Bear Country USA, Rapid City – a cool drive-thru bear habitat experience – keep those windows rolled up!!! And check out the baby bear nursery – so adorable!
Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison
*Serpent Safari, Wisconsin Dells
GRAND TOTAL AS OF 2009:
41 animal-themed places in 2 countries, 13 states, 1 district… and counting!