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The 12 Coolest Zoos Around the World


We also list the 12 Coolest Zoos in the U.S.

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” 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

the allwetterzoo in munsterZoo: AllWetterZoo Münster

Where: Münster, Germany
Why It’s Cool: “This zoo is unique in that it’s an all weather zoo,” says writer Annalyn Belle. “The animals are in their habitats, but there is shelter on all the walkways so the visitors are in shade when it’s hot and covered when it’s raining.”

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.” For something a little different, try a nocturnal tour of the park

bandia reserve in senegalZoo: Bandia Reserve

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 and without glass between us and them.

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

elephants at the nature park in thailand; better than a zooZoo: Elephant Nature Park

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: Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

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.”

La Montagne des Singes is a one-animal zoo in FranceZoo: Montagne des Singes

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 every year to their natural habitat in north Africa.”

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.”

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‪‪‪‪Zoo: Singapore Zoo

Where: Singapore
Why It’s Cool: Terumi Johnson agrees with me that this zoo is awesome. In addition to the night zoo (video left), 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 as well as the sizable water play area (a nice tough given Singapore’s heat and humidity).

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.”

walruses at hagenbeck zooZoo: Tierpark Hagenbeck

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.”

What favorite zoo of yours did we miss? Tell us in the comments.




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2 Comments

  1. April 15, 2016 at 12:49 am — Reply

    Wonderful list. Thanks for including us!

  2. April 13, 2016 at 3:15 am — Reply

    Nice collection of Zoos. I have been to seven of the cities, but only two of the Zoos.

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