Zoos have been a popular attraction for people worldwide for centuries, offering a unique opportunity to observe and learn about various animal species from around the world. From the Americas to Asia, Europe to Africa, zoos can be found in almost every corner of the globe.
However, some stand out for their size and collection of animals, drawing in millions of visitors each year. In this article, we will take a closer look at the top 20 largest zoos in the world, exploring their exhibits, conservation efforts, and educational programs.
1. The San Diego Zoo, USA
The San Diego Zoo, located in California, is one of the largest and most famous zoos in the world. It covers an area of over 100 acres and is home to over 3,500 animals from over 650 species. The zoo is a popular destination for tourists from around the globe and is known for its unique animal exhibits, conservation efforts, and educational programs.
One of the most notable features of the San Diego Zoo is its vast array of animal exhibits. Visitors can see everything from giant pandas and polar bears to cheetahs and kangaroos. This one of the largest zoos in the world is also home to a number of rare and endangered species, including the California condor, the Chinese alligator, and the Tasmanian devil. Many of the exhibits are designed to mimic the animals’ natural habitats, providing visitors with an immersive experience.
In addition to its animal exhibits, the San Diego Zoo is also known for its conservation efforts. The zoo has a number of research and breeding programs aimed at protecting endangered species and preserving their natural habitats. These programs include the Giant Panda Conservation Program, the California Condor Recovery Program, and the African Elephant Conservation Program. Through these efforts, this one of the most popular zoos is working to ensure the survival of some of the world’s most vulnerable species.
The San Diego Zoo is also committed to education, offering a range of programs and resources to help visitors learn about the animals and their habitats. These include guided tours, animal encounters, and educational exhibits. The zoo also has a number of online resources, including live animal cams and virtual field trips, that allow people to learn about the animals from anywhere in the world.
2. The Bronx Zoo, USA
The Bronx Zoo is more than double in size, located on 256 acres, making it the largest metropolitan zoo in the whole world, as zoos inside of cities tend to be much smaller. The Bronx Zoo holds 700 different species, which are made up of 8,000 different animals. The zoo is known for its extensive collection of animals, including rare and endangered species such as the Amur leopard and the Chinese giant salamander.
One of the most popular exhibits at the Bronx Zoo is the Congo Gorilla Forest, which is home to one of the largest groups of western lowland gorillas in North America. Visitors can also see a variety of other primates, including chimpanzees and mandrills, as well as other African wildlife, such as okapis and African wild dogs. This one of the top 20 largest zoos in the world also has a popular butterfly exhibit, where visitors can walk through a butterfly habitat and observe hundreds of live butterflies.
The Bronx Zoo is also involved in a number of conservation and research projects. The zoo has a Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Global Conservation Program, which focuses on protecting wildlife and their habitats around the world. The zoo also has a number of breeding programs aimed at conserving rare and endangered species, such as the Chinese alligator and the red panda.
3. The London Zoo, England
London has a beautiful zoo, which not only children but also adults will enjoy. And not only are ordinary tourists happy to visit the London Zoo, but it is also one of the largest scientific centers in the world. This large zoo in London appeared in 1828, it is the oldest zoo in the world.
But age is not the only thing the London Zoo boasts. There are more than 16,800 animals and 755 species. To enjoy all the beauty of the London Zoo, tourists must allocate at least three hours to visit it. London is ready to offer tourists almost all the diversity of the animal world.
Moreover, the London Zoo has a huge serpentarium, the world’s largest collection of reptiles, three aquarium halls, an insectarium with tropical butterflies, two sections of the children’s zoo, and many more diverse exhibits, including the “African Bird Safari. Special mention should be made of the famous Round House, where the gorillas live. This is one of the first buildings in Britain built in the modernist style.
4. The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, South Africa
The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, also known as the Pretoria Zoo, is one of Africa’s largest and most popular zoos. The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa is 210 acres in size. It boasts 700 different species and over 9,000 individual animals. This zoo is divided by the Apies River into two different sections. Half of the zoo is flat, while the other half is situated on hilly slopes. The zoo is known for its diverse collection of animals, including rare and endangered species such as the white rhinoceros and the African penguin.
The aquarium is one of the most popular exhibits at the Pretoria Zoo. It is home to a wide range of marine life, such as sharks, rays, and sea turtles. Besides, visitors can enjoy viewing terrestrial animals like lions, elephants, giraffes, primates, and birds from around the globe. Moreover, this one of the largest zoos is home to rare and endangered species from Africa, like the black-footed cat and the African wild dog.
The Pretoria Zoo is committed to the conservation and welfare of animals, as well as to promoting biodiversity. It has been a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums for years, emphasizing the importance of animal welfare and conservation. The zoo has initiated breeding programs to conserve rare and endangered species, such as the Cape vulture and the African penguin. Additionally, the zoo’s management has spearheaded several conservation and research projects to increase animal welfare and encourage the conservation of the environment.
5. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, USA
Located in Nebraska, USA, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is an acclaimed and award-winning destination for animal lovers. Spanning more than 160 acres, it boasts an impressive collection of over 17,000 animals representing more than 962 species. This one of the top 20 largest zoos in the world stands out for its remarkable exhibits, including the world’s largest indoor desert, rainforest, and nocturnal animal displays.
The Scott Aquarium is among the most popular exhibits at the Omaha Zoo, showcasing a diverse array of marine life, such as sharks, sea turtles, and jellyfish. Visitors can also explore other attractions, including the Desert Dome, where they can experience a simulated desert environment and encounter animals like the dromedary camel and Fennec fox. The Lied Jungle is another highlight, featuring primates, exotic birds, and other wildlife.
Apart from animal exhibits, the Omaha Zoo houses several botanical gardens and exhibits, such as the Butterfly and Insect Pavilion and the Berniece Grewcock Rose Garden. The zoo is also deeply committed to conservation efforts, with initiatives focused on breeding and reintroducing endangered species into their natural habitats.
6. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, USA
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is another large and popular zoo in the United States. Located in Powell, Ohio, the Columbus Zoo is spread over 580 acres and is home to over 10,000 animals representing over 600 species.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium are renowned for their remarkable animal habitats, such as the Asia Quest exhibit that showcases animals from Asia, such as elephants, tigers, and red pandas. Visitors can also witness a diverse range of animals from other parts of the world, such as the African Savannah exhibit that houses lions, giraffes, and zebras.
A standout feature of the Columbus Zoo is the Heart of Africa exhibit, which presents a collection of African animals, including baboons, cheetahs, and gazelles. Visitors can further explore this exhibit by taking a ride on the African Safari Express, a train that offers a closer look at the animals in their natural habitats.
Beyond its animal exhibits, the Columbus Zoo boasts the Zoombezi Bay water park, an enjoyable destination with an array of water rides and attractions for visitors. This zoo is also committed to conservation initiatives, engaging in several programs to safeguard and preserve endangered species.
7. The Toronto Zoo, Canada
The Toronto Zoo, situated in Ontario, Canada, is among the largest zoos in the world, covering a vast 710-acre area. Launched in 1974, it boasts a collection of more than 5,000 animals from 450 different species, representing a range of habitats and ecosystems from around the globe.
The Toronto Zoo is well-known for the Tundra Trek exhibit, which offers a simulated Arctic landscape featuring polar bears, Arctic wolves, and Arctic foxes. The African Savanna is another popular exhibit showcasing African animals, including lions, giraffes, and zebras. The zoo also has numerous primate exhibits, such as the gorilla rainforest and lemur exhibit.
In addition to its animal exhibits, the Toronto Zoo houses a considerable botanical collection, with over 10,000 plants from various parts of the world. The zoo is dedicated to conservation initiatives, with several programs focused on preserving endangered species, including the Vancouver Island marmot and the black-footed ferret.
8. The Beijing Zoo, China
The Beijing Zoo, located in China, is another one of the largest zoos in the world. At 220 acres, the Beijing Zoo has plenty of space for animals and also for its many beautiful lakes, ponds, flower beds, and meadows. The animals are the focus of the park, of course, and the Beijing Zoo is definitely not lacking in this regard. It contains over 14,500 individual animals, representing almost 1,000 different species.
The zoo also has the World of Birds, which features over 600 species of birds, and the Ape Pavilion, which is home to a variety of primates such as chimpanzees, orangutans, and gibbons. The Beijing Zoo is also home to many exotic animals, including Siberian tigers, kangaroos, and zebras. Additionally, the zoo has an aquarium with over 1,000 species of fish and marine animals, as well as a reptile house with snakes, lizards, and turtles.
In addition to its animal exhibits, the Beijing Zoo has a number of other attractions, including a large lake where visitors can rent boats and paddle around. The zoo also has a children’s playground, a science museum, and a dinosaur exhibit.
The Beijing Zoo is committed to animal conservation and is involved in many programs to protect endangered species and promote animal welfare education. Visitors can also participate in educational programs and tours to learn more about the animals and their habitats. Overall, the Beijing Zoo is a popular destination for both tourists and locals, offering a unique glimpse into the world of animals and their habitats.
9. The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, China
At about half the size of the Beijing Zoo, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium nevertheless come in at 130 acres. Like the Beijing Zoo, it houses almost 1,000 different species of animals but holds them in greater quantity, containing 17,000 individuals. The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium are renowned for their work in animal conservation.
Its notable exhibits include the Scott Aquarium featuring marine life like sharks and sea turtles, the Desert Dome with a simulated desert environment, and the Lied Jungle showcasing exotic animals such as gorillas and orangutans. The zoo is also home to botanical gardens and is dedicated to conservation programs.
Apart from animal exhibits, the Omaha Zoo has botanical gardens, including the Butterfly and Insect Pavilion and the Berniece Grewcock Rose Garden. It is also dedicated to conservation efforts and offers educational programs, behind-the-scenes tours, and interactive exhibits.
10. The Berlin Zoological Garden, Germany
The Berlin Zoological Garden, located in the heart of Berlin, Germany, has over 20,000 animals from around 1,500 species. The zoo was established in 1844 and has since become a popular tourist destination, attracting over 3 million visitors each year.
Featuring rare and exotic species such as giant pandas and koalas, the Berlin Zoological Garden is renowned for its diverse range of animals. The Predator House is a visitor favorite, showcasing big cats, smaller predators like meerkats, and a collection of primates.
Speaking about conservation, this zoo successfully breeds and reintroduces endangered species like the black rhinoceros and Asian elephant. With educational programs and a large aquarium, the Berlin Zoological Garden offers a unique and educational experience for visitors of all ages.
11. Chongqing Zoo, China
Chongqing Zoo in southwest China is a massive complex spanning over 200 acres, making it one of the world’s largest zoos. Visitors can marvel at the zoo’s impressive collection of over 6,000 animals from more than 360 species, with a particular emphasis on Chinese and Asian wildlife. It is especially famous for its exhibits featuring giant pandas, golden monkeys, and South China tigers. This tiger species is one of the rarest in the world. According to some estimates, there are only 20 tigers left in the world.
Be sure to visit the Giant Panda House, where visitors can observe giant pandas, red pandas, and golden takins in both indoor and outdoor habitats. Other highlights include the Tropical Rainforest House, showcasing animals and plants from tropical regions around the world, and the Polar Animal House, featuring polar bears, penguins, and other animals from the Arctic and Antarctic.
The zoo also participates in international initiatives such as the Giant Panda Conservation and Breeding Program, which aims to increase the population of this iconic species. With educational programs and interactive exhibits, visitors of all ages will enjoy their visit to Chongqing Zoo, which also boasts a large aquarium featuring over 10,000 aquatic animals from around the world.
12. Shanghai Zoo, China
Shanghai Zoo has been attracting the attention of Shanghai residents and tourists – nature lovers – for more than half a century. Although Shanghai Zoo is part of the huge national zoo, it occupies 743 thousand square meters and is usually always included in the excursion programs of various travel agencies. It is home to over 6,000 animals from more than 600 species, including rare and endangered animals such as giant pandas, South China tigers, and red-crowned cranes.
The highlight of Shanghai Zoo is big, kind “dancing” elephants, a family of funny gorillas with grimaces, and pandas eating more than twenty kilos of bamboo daily. The zoo is also home to a large collection of primates, including gibbons, macaques, orangutans, and a wide range of bird species, such as eagles, cranes, and penguins.
Residents of Shanghai visit the zoo not only because of the animals. It is very pleasant, green, with lots of flowers – you can have a very good walk and relax with your family and children. Visitors to the park are also offered extreme entertainment, including those that many have never seen before and most likely have only heard about (bullfighting, cockfighting).
13. Taronga Zoo, Australia
Taronga Zoo is Sydney’s oldest zoo and one of the most famous zoos in Australia, spanning over 69 acres of land and home to over 4,000 animals from 350 different species, many of which are native to Australia. The zoo is organized into eight regions, each representing a different part of the world, such as Wild Australia, African Safari, and Asian Rainforest.
The Great Southern Oceans exhibit is one of Taronga Zoo’s most notable attractions, with a massive saltwater aquarium housing a variety of marine life, including sharks, rays, and turtles. Taronga Zoo is also home to several animal encounters where visitors can meet and feed some of the zoo’s animals, including kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies.
Taronga Zoo’s commitment to conservation and sustainability is admirable. The zoo participates in breeding and reintroducing endangered species into the wild and promotes sustainable practices both in the zoo and the wider community. Taronga Zoo’s educational programs and experiences, including behind-the-scenes experiences, interactive exhibits, and guided tours, offer visitors an opportunity to learn about the importance of conservation and wildlife preservation. Additionally, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour and the city skyline while taking a cable car ride from the bottom of the zoo to the top.
14. Vienna Zoo, Austria
Vienna Zoo, also called Tiergarten Schönbrunn, is an iconic and historic one that is located in the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace gardens in Vienna, Austria. Established in 1752, it is the oldest zoo in the world and covers an area of 17 hectares. Today the Vienna Zoo is home to more than 8,500 animals of more than 700 species, including some that are on the brink of extinction.
You can see pink flamingos, pandas, monkeys and koalas, peacocks, African elephants, Indian rhinos, Amur tigers, hippos, giraffes, and bears. For example, polar bears live in the two-level Franz Josef Land pavilion. On the first tier are bears underwater, and upstairs they play on land. Near the reservoir, penguins, seals, and harbor seals frolic nicely. Reindeer have their own separate territory. In the East African pavilion, pygmy mongooses “talk” to horned crows. A new park was created for giraffes. The large pavilion represents the animals of South America. In the huge tropical pavilion, visitors are greeted by rainforests, a jungle with a waterfall, a lake, exotic birds, butterflies, and strange plants.
The zoo is part of the Schönbrunn Palace Park. Walk through the park with fountains and monuments for free. There is also the Crown Prince’s Garden, the Imperial Carriage Museum, the labyrinth, the orangery, the desert, and palm pavilions, for which you have to pay to visit. And, of course, you can also see the famous Schönbrunn Palace itself, the Habsburg summer residence with its glittering halls.
15. Singapore Zoo, Singapore
The Singapore Zoo is considered one of the best zoos in the world. The main feature and pride of the Singapore Zoo is that all animals are kept here in conditions as close to their natural habitat as possible. Spanning 28 hectares, it houses over 2,800 animals from more than 300 species, with a special emphasis on endangered species.
The zoo offers a unique experience with its Night Safari, allowing visitors to observe nocturnal animals in their natural habitats, and a River Safari featuring animals and ecosystems from rivers around the world, such as the Amazon and Mississippi Rivers.
A large number of entertaining show programs with the participation of animals are held on the territory of the zoo. Visitors can also enjoy dining and shopping options and various animal shows and performances throughout the day. Of particular interest are the ecosystems recreated in the zoo. For example, you can get to the Ethiopian valley, the jungle, and even the desert during the trip.
16. Brookfield Zoo, USA
Brookfield Zoo, situated in Illinois, USA, is a world-famous zoo renowned for its diverse collection of over 2,000 animals that represent more than 400 species. This top-rated zoo lures millions of visitors every year with its impressive range of exhibits, including big cats, primates, birds, reptiles, and marine mammals. This one of the largest zoos also offers many interactive experiences to make visitors’ animal encounters memorable.
One of the must-visit exhibits at Brookfield Zoo is the Great Bear Wilderness, which provides a naturalistic setting for grizzly bears, polar bears, and Mexican gray wolves. Visitors can watch these majestic animals in their habitats while learning about their behavior, habitats, and conservation. Brookfield Zoo also boasts a large primate exhibit featuring chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas, that offers an up-close look at these intelligent and fascinating creatures.
Brookfield Zoo’s dedication to animal welfare and conservation is evident in its successful breeding and reintroduction programs for endangered species. The zoo has bred several endangered species, such as the Mexican gray wolf and the Puerto Rican crested toad, and reintroduced them into their natural habitats. In addition to its conservation efforts, the zoo offers educational programs, guided tours, and interactive exhibits to promote wildlife conservation and inspire visitors to take action to protect animals and their habitats.
17. Tama Zoological Park, Japan
Located in Tokyo, Japan, Tama Zoological Park is a world-renowned zoo covering over 129 hectares and housing more than 320 species. The zoo is especially famous for its diverse collection of primates, boasting over 60 species, including chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas.
Visitors can also explore the African Savanna exhibit, featuring various African animals such as giraffes, zebras, and lions. Additionally, Tama Zoo is home to other exciting exhibits, including the Australian Outback exhibit, displaying kangaroos and wallabies, and the Insectarium, showcasing a range of fascinating and often-overlooked creatures such as beetles and spiders.
Thanks to its successful breeding program, Tama Zoological Park has welcomed the birth of various rare and endangered species, among them the Japanese giant salamander and the Japanese serow. This one of the greatest zoos is also committed to promoting environmental education and offers visitors a range of educational programs, such as guided tours, animal encounters, and interactive exhibits.
18. Taipei Zoo, Taiwan
Located in Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei Zoo is one of Asia’s largest and most popular zoos, covering over 165 hectares and housing more than 400 animal species worldwide. Visitors flock to see the zoo’s famous panda exhibit, featuring giant and red pandas, and its impressive collection of birds, including birds of prey, penguins, and flamingos.
Taipei Zoo caters to visitors of all ages, with a dedicated children’s zoo and a large aquarium showcasing marine life worldwide, including sharks, sea turtles, and vibrant tropical fish. Additionally, visitors can enjoy various activities and attractions, such as a safari train ride and a cable car ride offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and cityscape.
In addition, this one of the largest zoos is committed to education and conservation efforts. The zoo offers a variety of educational programs, including guided tours and interactive exhibits, aimed at teaching visitors about the importance of conservation and protecting endangered species. In addition, the zoo is home to the Endemic Species Research Institute, which conducts research and breeding programs to help preserve Taiwan’s unique and threatened species.
19. Madrid Zoo Aquarium, Spain
The Madrid Zoo Aquarium covers over 20 hectares and is home to more than 6,000 animals from over 500 different species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and marine life. One of the most popular exhibits is the giant panda exhibit, which features two giant pandas, Bing Xing and Hua Zui Ba, as well as red pandas and other animals native to China. Another popular exhibit is the dolphin exhibit, where visitors can watch dolphin shows and learn about these intelligent marine mammals.
Madrid Zoo Aquarium is more than just a place to see animals up close. The zoo is also actively involved in conservation efforts aimed at preserving endangered species. With a focus on breeding and reintroducing animals into the wild, Madrid Zoo Aquarium has successfully bred several endangered species, including the Iberian lynx and California sea lion.
Visitors to Madrid Zoo Aquarium can also enjoy a range of dining and shopping options, as well as attractions such as a cable car ride and a train ride that provides a tour of the zoo. With its focus on animal welfare, conservation, and education, Madrid Zoo Aquarium is a top destination for animal lovers from around the world.
20. Nanjing Hongshan Forest Zoo, China
Nanjing Hongshan Forest Zoo, located in Nanjing, China, is also included in the list of the world’s largest and most popular zoos. The zoo spans over 400 acres and is home to more than 6,000 animals from over 500 species, making it a must-visit destination for animal lovers.
One of the unique features of the Nanjing Hongshan Forest Zoo is its focus on animal welfare and conservation. The zoo has established partnerships with conservation organizations to support wildlife conservation efforts and has created exhibits showcasing endangered species, such as the South China tiger and the red panda.
Visitors to the zoo can also enjoy a wide range of exhibits that feature animals from different regions of the world, including African savannas, Asian rainforests, and South American jungles. The zoo’s exhibits are designed to create natural and immersive habitats for the animals, providing visitors with a glimpse into the animals’ natural habitats.
In conclusion, visiting a zoo can be an unforgettable experience for people of all ages. Whether you’re fascinated by exotic animals or simply enjoy learning about nature and wildlife, the world’s largest zoos offer many opportunities to explore and discover. These zoos are remarkable, from the impressive animal exhibits to the educational programs and conservation efforts.
By prioritizing animal welfare and conservation, these zoos provide a home for countless animals and play an essential role in preserving our planet’s biodiversity. So if you ever get a chance to visit any of these top 20 largest zoos in the world, don’t hesitate to explore and immerse yourself in the wonders of the animal kingdom.
Do you like zoos? What is the best zoo in the world? Share your thoughts, please, and thanks for reading.