Updated January 2020

One of the most fun evenings I’ve ever had while traveling was a visit to the Singapore night zoo (this was pre-kids and probably says as much about Singapore’s night life as it does about the zoo).

Animals are often a lot livelier and busier at night than in the day and the zoo had installed lights that allowed us to see the animals without them seeing us. So it was some of the best animal viewing I’ve ever had at a zoo.

As with so many things, seeing how other countries do their zoos can be illuminating. It can reflect on their culture or at the very least just show that there is more than one way to do things, even a trip to the zoo.

Here are a dozen zoos and animal parks outside the U.S. that experienced travel writers recommended to me, or that I’ve visited myself. Hope you get some good ideas to make your next vacation pretty wild.

You might also like: The 12 Coolest Zoos in the U.S.

12 Must-Visit Zoos Across the Globe

Zoos in Europe

‪Zoo: Montagne des Singes

La montagne des singes is a one-animal zoo in france: it's all about monkeys.

Where: Kintzheim, Alsace, France

Why It’s Cool: Another single-animal reserve, this one offers a guided walk through a forest that’s home to 200 barbary macaques. Blogger Mark Wyld appreciates that, “Some of the monkeys are returned to their natural habitat in north Africa every year.”

Zoo: Hellabrunn

Where: Munich, Germany

Why It’s Cool: Founded in 1911, this was first zoo where animals were organized in complex communities based on their geographic habitat.

Family travel blogger ‪Inga Batur says it’s her family’s favorite zoo. “ I was impressed by its size, number of different animals and really nice looking enclosures,” she says. “I remember the bears, with their own little stream and plenty of greenery.”

You Might Also Like: Thing To Eat and To Do with kids in Munich.

‪Zoo: Tierpark Hagenbeck

Walruses at hagenbeck zoo

Where: Hamburg

Why it’s Cool: Travel writer Julie Furst Henning says she likes this zoo because “Many of the exhibits are open air with animals roaming. There’s a fantastic playground for kids and also a massive exhibit for penguins/seals/walruses we really liked.”

Zoo: Tiergarten Schönbrunn

Where: Vienna, Austria

Why It’s Cool: Located amid the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace, this zoo began in 1752 as the imperial menagerie.

‪Stefanie Whelchel Cornwall recalls, “The architecture throughout the zoo is incredible. My family couldn’t believe how beautiful the enclosures were, and how regal they looked. Since it is on Palace grounds it shouldn’t be a surprise.”

Zoos in Latin America

Zoo: Aluxes EcoPark

Where: Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Why It’s Cool: Blogger Aimee Lynch likes that “the animals are local species that have been rescued and cannot be returned to the wild; a visit is very educational. They have a breeding program for scarlet macaws and the released wild babies tend to hang around and fly overhead.”

Tip: For something a little different, try a nocturnal tour of the park

‪‪Zoo: Belize Zoo

Where: About 30 miles west of Belize City.

Why It’s Cool: Travel bloggers Stacey-jean Inion and Terumi Johnson both recommend this zoo and it’s easy to see why; it’s a slice of wild Belize tamed just enough to be visitor friendly.

It’s jungly native vegetation is left largely to its own devices and all of its 125 or so animals are native to Belize.

Tip: To extend your experience stay at the adjacent Jungle Lodge. Guests can birdwatch, go canoeing or take a nighttime tour of the zoo.

You Might Also Like: A Getaway to Ambergris Caye and A Cruise Port Day in Belize.

Zoo: Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center

Sloths are just one of many local critters you'll spot at zoo ave rescue center in costa rica

Where: 20 miles Northwest of San Jose, Costa Rica

Why It’s Cool: Rescate Wildlife Rescue Center is one of largest and one of the few legitimate rescue centers in Costa Rica. Visitors get to see animals that can’t be released back into nature either because they are wounded or too used to human contact.

You’ll see a wide range of animals and birds, most but not all indigenous to Costa Rica. It’s an easy way to see local wildlife with little kids and a sure way to get a glmpse of sloths and some other animals that can be hard to spot in the wild.

The many animals they rehabilitate and the few they try to breed for a life in the wild are largely hidden from view so they don’t get used to people. A visit to Rescate Wildlife supports these efforts.

You might also like: Costa Rica With tweens, with young kids and with teens. Plus, what to pack.

‪Zoo: Tierpark Hagenbeck

Walruses at hagenbeck zoo

Where: Hamburg

Why it’s Cool: Travel writer Julie Furst Henning says she likes this zoo because “Many of the exhibits are open air with animals roaming. There’s a fantastic playground for kids and also a massive exhibit for penguins/seals/walruses we really liked.”

Zoo: Tiergarten Schönbrunn

Where: Vienna, Austria

Why It’s Cool: Located amid the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace, this zoo began in 1752 as the imperial menagerie.

‪Stefanie Whelchel Cornwall recalls, “The architecture throughout the zoo is incredible. My family couldn’t believe how beautiful the enclosures were, and how regal they looked. Since it is on Palace grounds it shouldn’t be a surprise.”

Zoos in Africa

Zoo: Bandia Reserve

Bandia reserve in senegal is more than a zoo and has lots of indigenous african animals, like giraffes.

Where: Sindia, Petite Cote, Senegal
Why It’s Cool: This park is more than a zoo less than a safari.

We loved that the property was big enough to give a sense that these animals were indeed wild and roaming free (fingers should remain in the jeep, please), but the density of animals was high enough that good viewing was guaranteed.

Tiny Travel thrilled at seeing black rhinos, wart hogs, giraffes, gazelles and much more close up than we ever have at traditional zoos, and without glass between us and them.

Zoos in Asia

Zoo: Elephant Nature Park

Elephants at the nature park in thailand; better than a zoo

Where: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Why it’s Cool: Michele Chan-Thomson loves this single-animal experience because ‪”you get to feed and bathe the elephants at this rescue sanctuary.”

Zoo: Singapore Zoo

The singapore night safari is a unique zoo experience

Where: Singapore

Why It’s Cool: Terumi Johnson agrees with me that this zoo is awesome. In addition to the night zoo, the unique River Safari shows wildlife that lives around seven world rivers in an exhibit that is part zoo, part aquarium.

Kids like the Zoo breakfast with a chance to visit with Orangutans and hold smaller animals. And the sizable water play area is a welcome extra given Singapore’s heat and humidity.

Zoos in Australia

Zoo: Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Koala encounters are a must when you visit australia

Where: Brisbane, Australia

Why It’s Cool: Travel blogger ‪Mary Penafiel Solio and family blogger Sara Wellensiek say they love this zoo.

Solio explains, “You can feed kangaroos and wallabies and see all other animal wildlife native to Australia. It’s also one of the few places one can cuddle a koala.”

Zoo: Taronga Zoo

Where: Sydney, Australia

Why It’s Cool: This enormous zoo is also celebrating its centennial this year. Blogger Bethaney Davies says “The have all the usual animals that kids love and lots of Aussie specialties like Koalas.”

She adds, “The ferry trip across the Sydney Harbour is worth a visit. And the whole time you’re walking around the zoo you get amazing views of Sydney, the opera house and Harbour Bridge.

Blogger ‪Mary Hickcox says, “It’s one of the nicest zoos I’ve ever been to.”

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