Best Zoos in Howard Hanna’s Eight States

Whether you’re two or seventy-two, everyone loves a zoo! They’re a fun way for the whole family to see exotic, rare animals and learn about their natural habitat.

If you’ve been contemplating a move to a move to Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Ohio or Pennsylvania we’ve got 16 reasons why you’d want to call any of those states home. They’ve all got excellent zoos!

Ann Arbor, Michigan:
Though not a traditional zoo, the Creature Conservancy is a local favorite located in Ann Arbor on the University of Michigan campus. This non-profit organization started when a 10-pound alligator was left on the steps of a local veterinary hospital. They were unable to care for the alligator and gave it to the Conservancy. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Today the Creature Conservancy takes in injured wildlife, presents educational programs and even offers parties and private tours!

Detroit, Michigan:
The Detroit Zoo has been in operation since August of 1928. Just outside of downtown Detroit, the zoo is home to more than 2,000 different animals on over 125 acres of habitat. Visitors have the chance to come face to face with their favorite exotic animals, from aardvarks to zebras.

Among the most popular exhibits are the Australian Outback Adventure, the Butterfly Garden and the Polk Penguin Conservation Center. The zoo also features a 4-D theater, a wildlife simulation ride and even a railroad! The Detroit Zoo has something for everyone.

Asheboro, North Carolina:
Located in Asheboro, North Carolina the North Carolina Zoo is in the heart of North Carolina in an area that has a rich cultural heritage. It features an Africa exhibit with giraffes, zebras, African lions, a large community of chimpanzees and even lemurs! The Aviary has over 3,000 different tropical plants and dozens of exotic birds. Visit the North American exhibit where you can see animals that live anywhere from the dry desert to the rocky coast.

Ride the 36-foot endangered species carousel that opened a decade ago, hike the trails around the zoo, or enjoy the eruption of activity coming from the bursts of the Prairie Geyser. No matter what you pick, the North Carolina Zoo promises to be a real crowd-pleaser!

Buffalo, New York:
Buffalo’s Zoo has the bragging rights of being the United State’s third oldest zoo, and can trace its roots all the way back to 1870! It is among the most popular attractions in Western New York with an average of nearly 460,000 annual visitors since 2009.

It has a remarkably diverse collection of animals in its nearly 24-acre footprint. In the zoo, there are four primary exhibit zones that include an Asian river, an African savannah, a South American rainforest and North American tundra.

Its missions is the promotion of “wildlife conservation through up-close animal encounters, engaging educational experiences, and participation in regional and international programs for endangered species.” Animal lovers of all ages will adore this special gem in Buffalo!

Binghamton, New York:
The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park is the home to Magnus the coyote pup and two new red panda cubs, who made their way into the word in June of 2017! Visitors can do more than check out the impressive animal collection: there’s free face painting where you can disguise yourself as your favorite animal and also a trackless train.

Many critically endangered animals call the zoo home including the African penguin, Amur leopard, black-and-white ruffed lemur, fishing cat, golden lion tamarin, red panda, red wolf and snow leopard!

Those who don’t just want to visit the zoo can also adopt an animal for a donation ranging from $50 and up!

Rochester, New York:
Rochester is the third largest city in the state of New York and home to Seneca Park Zoo which opened in 1894 in Seneca Park. Its mission is to inspire the community to connect, care for, and conserve wildlife and wild places. As a conservation organization, it is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Visitors to the zoo will see an assortment of amphibians, birds, fish, invertebrates, mammals and reptiles. Each year the zoo holds regular events to promote education and conservation where guests can get up close and personal with the animals.

Syracuse, New York:
Home to more than 700 animals on 43 acres, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo first opened in 1914 and is ranked among top area attractions. Visitors to the zoo can see everything from the smallest invertebrates to one of the largest mammals, the elephant!

Among its most popular exhibits is the U.S.S. Antiquities Aquarium which simulates a submarine voyage through time from the earth’s earliest days in the ocean to living on land. It features all kinds of critters including insects, aquatic life, reptiles and amphibians.

Akron, Ohio:
The Akron Zoo is the most visited attraction in all of Summit County. In 1900 the land that would eventually become the Akron Museum of Natural History and the Akron Children’s Zoo was donated by George and Ann Perkins. It is now home to over 90 different species of animals with new projects having been completed as recently as 2017.

In an effort to expand its mission of encouraging visitors to become champions of the natural world, the zoo has become more inclusive – it now offers sensory bags and quiet areas for visitors with conditions such as autism, PTSD, or social anxiety disorder. In July of 2017, it was honored as the first zoo in Ohio and the second in the nation as a sensory inclusive zoo.

Cleveland, Ohio:
A part of the Cleveland Metroparks system, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has been in operation since 1882 and is one of the most popular year-round attractions in Northeast Ohio.

The zoo spans 183 acres and is divided into many different areas, including the Australian Adventure; the African Savanna; the Northern Trek; The Primate, Cat & Aquatics Building; the RainForest and Waterfowl Lake.

A particular favorite of visitors is Monkey Island, which is home to one of the largest collections of primates in North America. It is a concrete island on which a group of monkeys live free-range lives without cages or walls!

Columbus, Ohio:
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has been named to multiple “Best Zoo” lists, including the one from USA Travel Guide. It is home to more than 7,000 individual animals and over 800 different species. Through the enthusiasm of former director Jack Hanna, it now has over 2.3 million visitors annually.

Its rich history includes Colo the gorilla, who in 1956 became the world’s first captive-born gorilla. She lived at the Columbus Zoo until her death at the age of 61, at which time she was the oldest gorilla in human care in the entire world! Since the birth of Colo, 31 gorillas have been born as a result of the zoo’s breeding program.

Toledo, Ohio:
Named by USA Today as the #1 zoo in America, the Toledo Zoo & Aquarium has been in operation for nearly 120 years. Because of the zoo’s focus on conservation, it is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and it participates in over 30 species survival plans.

The aquarium features one of the most diverse collections of any zoo in the nation. After renovations in 2015, the updated aquarium contains more than 3,000 animals in 178,000 gallons of water. There’s even a touch tank where visitors can get up close and personal with stingrays and small sharks!

Cincinnati, Ohio:
The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden opened just 14 months after the oldest zoo in the country, which is in Philadelphia. Situated in the Avondale neighborhood of Cincinnati, it was initially founded on 65 acres, but has since grown to encompass the surrounding blocks.

The zoo has a fascinating history and has held many records, including the longest-lived captive alligator and the fastest cheetah living in captivity. It was also home to the last living passenger pigeon, Martha, who died there in 1914, as well as the last living Carolina parakeet.

Erie, Pennsylvania:
In 1927, Erie received the elephant “Tomboy” as a gift to the city. Soon after, the Robert Evans estate was donated to create a zoological park and a home was built for the elephant in 1929. The Erie Zoo is located on 15 acres of land and has more than 400 animals that call it home. The botanical gardens and greenhouse hold over 600 species of plants from around the globe.

In the spring or summer, visitors can spend a few hours or a whole day walking the grounds of this unique zoo, and in the fall and winter months, they can enjoy ice skating!

 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:
The Pittsburgh Zoo was originally called Highland Park Zoo when it opened in 1898. Through the years, the zoo has changed to include naturalistic habitats for the animals and focused on the key goals of conservation, education and research.

Renovations and improvements to the zoo have been ongoing since its inception. Most recently, in 2017, the zoo opened a “Jungle Odyssey” exhibit. Set among jungle foliage, it features new habitats for animal animals that include capybaras, ocelots, giant anteaters and a pygmy hippo!

 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:
When the Philadelphia Zoo opened in 1874 as America’s First Zoo, admission cost just 25 cents! Today, the zoo spans 42 acres and is home to many rare and endangered animals.

Visitors to the zoo can check out the first-of-its-kind animal trail system. It includes the Big Cat Crossing, Gorilla Treeway, the Treetop Trail and Great Ape Trail. In addition to taking the trails, guests can also check out the paddleboat lake and the rainforest-themed carousel!

 Norfolk, Virginia:
A celebrated history and lush gardens make the Virginia Zoo is a great place to visit! Located adjacent to Lafayette Park in Norfolk, it opened in 1900, and since then, it has undergone many renovations and expansions.

In 2016, the Virginia Zoo celebrated its 115th anniversary and welcomed two critically endangered male Malayan tiger cubs to the zoo. When visiting, be sure to ride on the train that offers an informative journey around the zoo, and then check out the ten different gardens!

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