When you search for a ranking of zoos, you’ll get different answers and there are always disagreements when it comes to the number one. However, based on public opinion, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best zoos that are worth visiting in 2022.
San Diego Zoo – USA
The San Diego zoo –hands down, no question – is arguably the best zoo in the world, particularly if you include its sister institution, the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The zoo has been around since about 1916 and was built on a land that slopes down into a canyon. This 125 acres of land is close to downtown San Diego and is centrally located in Balboa Park, a recreational oasis where culture, nature, literature and science collide.
San Diego zoo’s fame started with great publicity when a woman from the zoo, called Joan Embry, would bring animals to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and the very funny Johnny would react to what the animals did which eventually made the San Diego zoo a household name and an awesome destination for animal lovers and conservationists.
San Diego zoo has a worldwide reputation for its great collection of animals that live in well-designed exhibits. Probably the most famous thing about it is that it pioneered open-cage zoos a century ago and developed one of the first open habitat environment. The zoo is large and expansive, built with all the animals showcased outside in natural terrain enclosures; the manicured grounds are a delight to see with tropical palms and flowers everywhere. There is a moving walkway that takes you from the canyon area up a hillside to other displays on higher terrain.
The sheer variety of species they have in their collection is another reason for the zoo’s success. In fact, San Diego’s zoo is one of the only zoos in the world that breeds and houses pandas –and I’m ready to bet that China doesn’t give pandas to just anyone.
Have I mentioned that the zoo is big?
When you walk towards the entrance, you’d think that you can cover the whole thing on foot in an hour –don’t even try it or else you’ll be spending three hours tromping up and down myriad of canyons and valleys and be absolutely dead on your feet. The zoo is huge. Mobus. And, if you want to see the whole zoo, it’s better to start with one of the guided bus tours and THEN walk around –and be prepared to get tired.
Another important fact about this zoo is that it is the most important zoo in North America for endangered species rehabilitation and takes part in substantial research and breeding programs to stabilize and rebuild wide populations of endangered animals.
While the zoo has been around for 100 years, the San Diego Safari Park (formerly known as the Wild Animal Park) wasn’t created until around 1965 and was then only used as a breeding facility for the zoo; it was officially opened to the public in 1972. The Safari Park has more than 300 species of animals but access to the public is only granted when you pay for a special tour.
Address: 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, United States
“Best Zoo we have ever been to! Do the elephants & Koalas first (early) & the canopy & indoor areas in mid-late day when hot! LOTS to see! Kids loved everything.” –From misty
“Let’s be real- this zoo is just unbeatable. It is a magical experience just to walk through it , let alone to witness the stunning variety of animals and plants. Hands down it is a must-see of San Diego. There is always a chance that you won’t get to see some of the animals but you won’t be disappointed with the monkeys, koalas, and the many stunning aviaries.” – From Nicole