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Zoos and Animal Parks

We’re lucky to have so many fantastic zoos and animal parks to choose from in our country. They offer a fun way to spend a day. To help you narrow down your choices, here are a few great picks from coast to coast:

 

San Diego Zoo Safari Park | Escondido, California Primate

While the San Diego Zoo gets much of the attention in southern California, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park) is also well worth a visit. It covers 1,800 acres near Escondido and houses more than 300 species of wild and endangered animals from the contents of Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America and Australia. The park also operates a tram ride where you can observe animals such as antelopes, giraffes, buffalo, cranes and rhinoceros as they roam in free-range enclosures.

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Northwest Trek Wildlife Park | Eatonville, WA

At this wild animal park, you can take a 50-minute Discovery Tram Tour that winds through 435 acres of meadows and forests and offers views of moose, Roosevelt elk, bison, beavers, wolverines and other animals in their natural habitats. Along the way, a naturalist will narrate the tour and share fun facts about the animals. The park also has a paved walking trail that is stroller and wheel chair-friendly. Twice a day, the park offers trailside encounters where you can see animals up close and ask an animal keeper questions. The park also offers “Zip Wild,” a series of five exhilarating zip line/challenge courses that run through the park’s tree canopy. There’s even a “Super Kid Course” suitable for kids ages five and up.

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Out of Africa | Camp Verde, AZ

This wildlife park, located 90 miles north of Phoenix, makes it possible for you to experience an authentic replica of an African bush safari. It houses nearly 40 exotic big cats, including lions, tigers. leopards, jaguars and cougars, as well as hundreds of mammals, birds and reptiles. The preserve is designed to allow animals to move about freely as they would in the wild, which means that visitors can see free-roaming giraffes, antelopes, zebras, ostriches, water buffalo and many other animals. Adrenaline junkies will appreciate the Predator Zip Line, a two-and-a-half hour tour where they’ll “fly” from tower to tower (seven in all) as they view the wild animals below. Out of Africa is also known for its “Tiger Splash” show that features Bengal and Siberian tigers interacting in a large pool.

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St. Louis Zoo | St. Louis, Missouri

Located on 90 acres in the city’s Forest Park, the St. Louis Zoo is home to more than 600 species of animals, many of them rare and endangered. It is also one of the few free zoos in the country. Animal exhibit highlights include Polar Bear Point, Sea Lion Sound, Penguin & Puffin Coast, Bear Bluffs and Big Cat Country. The zoo also contains a separate children’s zoo, and the Zooline Railroad and a 17,000 gallon stingray pool are among its many other attractions.

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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo | Colorado Springs, Colorado Giraffe

This attraction has the distinction of being America’s only mountain zoo. Exhibits include the Australia Walkabout, All About Giraffes, Encounter Africa, Making Waves and Rocky Mountain Wild. The zoo also features two unique attractions. One is a carousel that was originally used at the 1933 Century of Progress Fair, and the other is the Will Rogers Shrine which was built in the 1930s to honor the late cowboy humorist. The top deck of the shrine is at an elevation of more than 8,100 feet, so it offers spectacular views of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak area. Admission to the shrine is included in the ticket price for the zoo.

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Toledo Zoo & Aquarium | Toledo, Ohio

This 74-acre zoo makes it possible for you to “travel” from the Arctic tundra to the wilds of Africa and from the tropical rainforest to the Sonoran Desert and many points in between – all in one day. It houses more than 700 species of animals and features exhibits such as The Rescue Roost for bald eagles, a Primate Forest, Great Apes, the Tiger Terrace, Flamingo Key and a ‘Keet Retreat for parakeets. The zoo also includes the largest collection of Works Progress Administration (WPA) era buildings in one location.

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Cape May County Park & Zoo | Cape May Courthouse, NJSealion

This attraction includes both a park and a zoo, and admission to both is free! The 85-acre zoo contains more than 500 animals representing 250 species, including lions, alpacas, camels, snow leopards, black bears, zebras and giraffes. It also has a fun wildlife carousel where riders sit on zoo animal figurines instead of the traditional carousel horses. The 200-acre Cape May County Park Central, which includes the zoo, has forests, picnic areas, walking paths, bike paths, fishing ponds, a disc golf course, playgrounds and more.

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