It's Zoo Awareness Week and we're celebrating a few outstanding zoos that take caring for wild animals to a whole other level. Satisfy your craving for some quality creature time and see our picks for the best place to chill with polar bears, chow down with lions and monkey around with, well, monkeys.
10. Edinburgh Zoo
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Paw-pular Residents: pandas, penguins, koalas and zebras
Why We're Wild About It: It's pandemonium at the Edinburgh Zoo, with the park working on breeding two giant pandas on loan from China. The real secret to the facility's success lies in the penguins. The zoo houses over a hundred penguins of varying species. One of the Edinburgh Zoo's most popular attractions is the Penguin Parade, where many of the birds are let out of their exhibit to waddle in an open area amongst visitors.
9. Basel Zoo
Location: Basel, Switzerland
Paw-pular Residents: rhinos, hippos, apes, cheetahs, okapi and flamingos
Why We're Wild About It: The Basel Zoo is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Switzerland, and we think we know why. The zoo is dedicated to paying extra close attention to their animals' diet and behavior. This concern has allowed them to breed several endangered animals with which other zoos have had little or no success. Some of these creatures include, cheetahs, Indian rhinos, greater flamingos and gorillas.
8. Schönbrunn Zoo
Location: Vienna, Austria
Paw-pular Residents: elephants, pandas, sea lions and jaguars
Why We're Wild About It: The Schonbrunn Zoo is the oldest zoo in the world. It opened in 1752 and is located on the scenic grounds of the Schonbrunn Palace. This unique location allows guests to take in stunning architecture while also viewing their favorite animals. The zoo has been dedicated to conservation from the beginning and has achieved many firsts, including the first elephant birth in captivity in 1906.
7. National Zoological Gardens of South Africa
Location: Pretoria, South Africa
Paw-pular Residents: hippos, tigers, cheetahs, red pandas and marmosets
Why We're Wild About It: The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa is sporting some big attractions. The zoo fills up their 210-acre space with one of the largest exotic tree collections, a massive aquarium and hundreds of different animal species. Its breeding programs and research have been so successful that almost all the animals in the zoo were born on the grounds.
6. Bronx Zoo
Location: Bronx, N.Y.
Paw-pular Residents: Bronx Zoo Cobra, giraffes, monkeys, lions, bears and snow leopards
Why We're Wild About It: The Bronx Zoo was making the news far before a certain cobra decided to make a break for it and explore the city. The park is the largest metropolitan zoo in the world, covering 265 acres. The zoo's work to protect and breed endangered animals makes it the go-to facility for orphaned creatures in need. The Bronx Zoo is continually working to become eco-friendly, recently installing restrooms that use composting toilets and will save a million gallons of water each year.
5. Toronto Zoo
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Paw-pular Residents: polar bears, penguins, tigers, snow leopards and pygmy hippos
Why We're Wild About It: At 710 acres, the Toronto Zoo is the largest zoo in Canada and one of the biggest in the world. The facility is dedicated to expanding and making more natural environments for its 16,000 animals. The zoo takes part in varying animal conservation efforts including rescuing polar bears and researching a cure for deadly fungi affecting frogs. Animals aren't the zoo's only focus; the park is also one of the biggest recycler of cellphones in North America.
4. Berlin Zoological Garden
Location: Berlin, Germany
Paw-pular Residents: polar bears, pandas, lions, seals, wolves and elephants
Why We're Wild About It: As the most popular zoo in Europe, the Berlin Zoological Garden has a lot to squawk about. You may recognize its name it's the zoo that hand-reared Knut, the world-famous polar-bear cub. The park is also known for their giant panda, Bao Bao, who is the oldest living panda in captivity. Aside from their celeb animals, the Berlin Zoological Garden is celebrated for their successful breeding and reintroduction programs, along with the attention to detail the zoo designers pay when trying to recreate the animals' natural habitat.
3. Whipsnade Zoo
Location: Whipsnade, England
Paw-pular Residents: lemurs, lions, cheetahs, rhinos and sloth bears
Why We're Wild About It: Whipsnade Zoo is 600 acres, which offers a lot of room to roam. Visitors to the park have to take a car or tram to cover all the exhibits. While it may sound like a hassle to some, we're happy about it, because the size allows the animals to have large enclosures and some even roam freely. The space also gives the zoo the opportunity to try out new and exciting interactive exhibits. Additionally, Whipsnade Zoo serves as great retirement home for rescued animals, or as temporary housing for other zoos when over-crowded.
2. San Diego Zoo
Location: San Diego, Calif.
Paw-pular Residents: orangutans, pandas, sun bears, koalas, elephants and tigers
Why We're Wild About It: The San Diego Zoo has been trying to take a progressive and animal-friendly approach to their facility since they started in 1915. The first animals of the zoo were those taken in after being abandoned by a local exhibition. As the zoo continued to grow, the staff worked on creating one of the first "cage-free" parks, opting for the use of moats instead of bars. This effort has continued, transforming each exhibit into spaces as natural to the wild animals' real habitats as possible.
1. Singapore Zoo
Paw-pular Residents: tigers, elephants, orangutans, seals and polar bears
Why We're Wild About It: The Singapore Zoo is known for making amazing strides in the naturalistic zoo approach. Through a series of carefully designed enclosures, animals are able to live out in the open without cages. It's 100-percent cage free. The zoo uses moats and glass instead, creating a more personal and interactive experience for visitors. Guests are even given a hands-on experience with the zoo's orangutan colony--the largest in the world--during the "Breakfast with Orangutans" show.
Next: See Our Favorite Zoo Newborns
Honorable Mention: Smithsonian National Zoo
Location: Washington D.C
Paw-pular Residents: lions, pandas, sloth bears, elephants, giraffes and cheetahs
Why We're Wild About It: First off, this zoo is free. Thanks to tax dollars and donations, Washington's visitors can enjoy this park without paying a penny. The National Zoo also helps humans out by offering a variety of education programs and interesting events. The zoo recently opened the Conservation Biology Institute, which is a center dedicated to protecting animals and training future conservationists.