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N in azaleas

Zoos

I like zoos, always have. I enjoy looking at the animals and enjoy knowing that some of the monies raised are being spent on conservation. It's not that I'm into prisons, it's just that I believe in the education one can get from seeing a live animal. It's easier to want to preserve land for a tiger when you know what one is.

I just found a list of the zoos in the US and am rating ones that I have been to..Any of you have additional recommendations for must-sees?


Albuquerque Biological Park , Albuquerque , New Mexico -
I remember this as being a niche zoo, specializing in animals that might be found in the
desert. More interesting to me as an adult than as a child.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum , Tucson , Arizona
I only saw this when I was 5 or 6 or so. I remember seeing roadrunners for the first time.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas , New Orleans , Louisiana
I haven't seen this aquarium since Katrina. I remember liking the layout but missing the diversity to be found in Monterey.

Audubon Zoo , New Orleans , Louisiana
I like this niche zoo. My great aunt volunteered here most of her adulthood. I love watching the alligators -- they're mesmirizing and featured in Undercover Blues.

Baltimore Zoo , Baltimore , Maryland
I don't remember much about this zoo.

Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Park , Bronx , New York
I loved this zoo. It may be among the top five zoos I've seen.

Cockrell Butterfly Center , Houston, Texas
It's not really a zoo, but I have a picture of its waterfall in my cubicle at work. It's a fun place to visit with school-age kids. My friend Kristi got really fascinated with watching the tiniest movements of one emerging from a crysalis.

Dallas Zoo , Dallas, Texas
I have a hard time separating this zoo from the Fort Worth zoo in my head. As I remember, it's a good zoo, if a little less spectacular than the Fort Worth zoo.

Denver Zoological Gardens , Denver, Colorado
I have a fondness for this zoo because they had baby polar bears and were the only zoo anywhere near me for two years of graduate school.

Disney's Animal Kingdom , Lake Buena Vista, Florida
I like animal kingdom but seem to conflate it a little with the Wild Animal Park in San Diego. The Wild Animal park is more fun but has less splendid sister amusement parks.

Fort Worth Zoo , Fort Worth, Texas
I think this zoo is worth a trip. One year, my cuz came up to visit and we took the train to the zoo. The train from Dallas to Fort Worth is a fun trip, if you've remembered to pack your picnic lunch and a deck of cards.

Houston Zoo , Houston, Texas
I grew up with this zoo. In my lifetime, they've gone from tiny cages to enclosures. I remember the alligator that got into a fight and began marching off to the emergency room. I remember when you could pet the Zebu cattle and the white-tailed deer. I'm sorry we have so few cats now.

Little Rock Zoo , Little Rock, Arkansas
I think I've been to this zoo, but I'm not sure. If so, I've filed it as 'nicely landscaped, mid-size town zoo.'

Monterey Bay Aquarium , Monterey, California
I love this aquarium. I think it's worth a trip.

National Aquarium , Washington, District of Columbia
This was an ok experience.

National Aquarium in Baltimore , Baltimore, Maryland
I was terribly amused by having zillions of sting rays in a swimming pool. I wanted to climb in with them. So velvety!

National Zoological Park , Washington, District of Columbia
This is the first place I saw panda bears. I believe I was with Ciaracat when I went, but maybe that was just the first time I went to San Diego.

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch , San Antonio, Texas
Heh. Texas.

Philadelphia Zoo , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Ok.

Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium ,Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania
This was the first zoo I visited that had placed the prey animals within sight and sound of the predators. The lions were very interested in the giraffes. The wintertime lights were pretty fun, and the concept of having wallabies in a petting zoo enchanted me.

Rainforest at Moody Gardens, Inc. ,Galveston,Texas
I wonder how they've fared after the storm. I enjoyed it, in a 'this isn't a real animal park' kind of way.

San Antonio Zoological Gardens & Aquarium ,San Antonio,Texas
This is the first zoo were I got to buy a handful of kibble to feed the animals. I loved it!

San Diego Wild Animal Park ,Escondido,California
San Diego Zoo ,San Diego,California
These deserve all their positive ratings. It's been too long since my last visit. Maybe next year. I love the photo safari in the Wild Animal Park.

SeaWorld San Antonio , San Antonio, Texas
Every time I go, I think, "Why didn't I learn to train whales?" Later in the evening, I remember that I am ADD and not patient and, well, that's not a good personality to train whales. But it's fun to watch them.

The Toledo Zoo , Toledo, Ohio
This zoo was built as a PWA project and still has some of the original buildings. They have quite the neon light sculpture collection for wintertime, and you can eat your hamburger or hot dog in what was once a lion cage -- an enlightening experience.

ZOOAMERICA - North American Wildlife Park , Hershey, Pennsylvania
They have some awesome bald eagles with cranky personalities.

Comments

I am not a zoo person, but seeing large wildlife in its habitat in various places I've lived (Austin and New Jersey, but also hawks I've seen in west Houston) always makes me happy.
I love seeing wild life in its natural habitat, as well.
I'm with you on zoos. Not crazy about animals in cages, but appreciate the value that comes from that - i.e. raising city kids aware of animals and with a personal connection, plus the conservation activities of most zoological groups. I tend to HATE zoos that feel like "animals in cages", which the Houston Zoo always did to me. Love zoos that feel like humans in cages with animals around them.

San Antonion Zoo - While feeding a hippo, I got to scratch it on the chin. So awesome. :)

Bronx Zoo - My favorite, too. And one I don't see nearly often enough, given that it's a subway ride (albeit a 2 hour one) away from me.

San Diego Zoo - MUST SEE. Very close 2nd to the Bronx Zoo, and probably only missing out on the top slot because the Bronx Zoo being what it is in the middle of New York City just bewilders me. Also, I grew up going there all of the time, so it isn't as special for me, I guess.

Fort Worth Zoo - My "home town" zoo. I haven't been there in AGES. Love it.

National Zoo - Worth a trip simply to see the pandas.
Have you been to the St. Louis Zoo? It rocks. When we lived there (2000), it was free, which was shocking for how good it was. They charged for things like the new children's zoo and the train, but otherwise, you could go in anytime and many folks would jog through it. The grounds are really pretty and they have a wonderful collection of animals. Lots of breeding going on. We loved it.

Here in OK, Tulsa sucks. But OKC isn't bad. It's kinda hard to navigate, but they have really nice enclosures for the larger animals, a large selection of primates, and the new OK-specific area is really good. I like it better than Houston, except that Houston has better birds.

EDIT: Should note that I grew up with San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park, so that I was impressed with StL is saying a lot. Note that we visited the San Diego Zoo after living in St. Louis and I was surprised to feel disappointed, mainly with the cost. My parents were members, so we got in free, but still, it was like Disneyland and I didn't find it much better than StL... and the crowds were awful. Wild Animal Park is a different story. Never fails to impress.

Edited at 2008-10-02 08:32 pm (UTC)
I grew up in Arlington- so a trip to the Fort Worth Zoo wasn't a bad distance for taking kids... although we only went a couple of times.

There was a point where you could buy a ride on an elephant (not sure if they do this any more)... so after much begging my dad bought one for me and my mom (my sister was still toddling and too small). It was the kind of experience that just solidified zoo's as the coolest place on earth for a kid.

I wonder if my mom could find that picture for me... such a good memory!
The San Diego Zoo is the best I've ever seen by an elephant-sized margin. I've not been to the Wildlife Center.

The Houston Zoo is much improved since I moved here.

The Brookfield Zoo in Chicago is quite good, but I last saw it fifteen years ago.

I was disappointed in SeaWorld San Diego, because it turns out that I really, really am uninterested in watching trained animals. I want to see natural behaviors.

The National Zoo in DC is OK; it's a little too small to represent our nation.
I like zoos too! I've been to a few that you have not.

The Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA is smallish but has some nice hilly enclosures. I sometimes like smaller zoos, as they feel less like themeparks.

The Milwaukee Zoo feels like a themepark. Trains and buildings in the trees, with peacocks wandering around. Not to say I didn't like it!

The Indianapolis Zoo was very nice the one time I visited, years ago. They had red pandas! And the Australian area was fenced off so that the wallabies could wander around unsupervised.

I've been to some small wildlife parks as well (not quite zoos) and some are sad and depressing, and some are cute, and some seem just this side of criminal operations.

One of the small ones I liked was The Texas Zoo in Victoria, which shocases only native Texas species. Also in Zilker Park in Austin, at the Science Education Center, there are some animals, but they feel cooped up in their little cages. Supposedly they are all rescue cases, though, and cannot return to the wild.

The Zoo-like themepark at Disney in Florida is heavy on rides, and light on actual animals. I was disappointed. Supposedly if you actually stay at the "lodge" hotel in the park, it's better, as the backside of the hotel looks out on their artificial African savannah.

zoos with reciprocal memberships

I haven't been to very many zoos: Houston, Bronx, Kansas City, Wild Kingdom, Moody Gardens (not in that order), but we are members of the Houston Zoo. I like that our membership supports conservation efforts. I was also delighted to learn that Houston has "reciprocity" arrangements with more than 140 other zoos around the country. So a Houston membership gets you free admission to the Dallas Zoo, and 50% off to say, Zoo Atlanta, Los Angeles Zoo, or Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco. (see http://www.houstonzoo.org/Reciprocity/) Pretty cool!
N in azaleas

September 2009

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