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Fort Worth Zoo named best in North America

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Winning zoo was established in 1909, making it the oldest in Texas

Note from 10Best: Someday, we'll all be ready to pack our suitcases again and head out on our next adventures. In the meantime, we'll keep supporting the places that inspire us.

  • Fort Worth Zoo

    Fort Worth Zoo
    Fort Worth

    Established in 1909, the Fort Worth Zoo is the oldest continuously operated zoo in Texas and home to more than 540 animal species from around the world. More than 100 of those species are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, and 68 are endangered or threatened. An international leader in Asian elephant conservation, the zoo recently opened the all new African Savannah – home to giraffe, zebras, hippos and black rhinos. An additional 10 acres of new exhibit space are in the works.
    Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Zoo

  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

    Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
    Cincinnati

    The Cincinnati Zoo (one of the oldest zoos in the nation) brings visitors nose-to-nose with a range of exciting animals. Guests can view hippos underwater (including world-famous hippo Fiona), pop up in a bubble amid meerkats or watch cheetahs racing at top speeds. The multi-sensory Night Hunters exhibit hosts cats and other nocturnal predators, while Manatee Springs seeks the long-term conservation of the Florida manatee by encouraging guests to observe these gentle giants.
    Photo courtesy of Michelle Curley

  • Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

    Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
    Omaha, Neb.

    Continued investments have allowed Henry Doorly Zoo to continue to offer one-of-a-kind exhibits to guests, including the world’s largest indoor desert where arid plants and animals – meerkat, peccaries, quail, gila monster, death adders, rattlesnakes and inland taipan, the wodl’s most venomous snake – are visible inside a geodesic dome year round in the heart of the Midwest. The $73 million African Grasslands exhibit features 28 acres of habitats and exhibit spaces for giraffe, elephants, lions, cheetahs and sable antelope.
    Photo courtesy of Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

  • Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

    Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
    Colorado Springs

    The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs connects visitors with more than 750 animals representing 170 species from all corners of the globe. The African Rift Valley exhibit is home to the largest zoo giraffe herd in the world, as well as Red River hogs, meerkats, African lions and Colobus monkeys. Rocky Mountain Wild hosts regional species, like moose, grizzly bears, mountain lions, river otters, porcupine, Mexican gray wolves, bald eagles and lynx. A ski lift offers stellar views over Colorado Springs.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / cumulus_humilis

  • Brevard Zoo

    Brevard Zoo
    Melbourne, Fla.

    Brevard Zoo takes the zoo going experience to adventurous levels. Guests can kayak through the African savanna, zip line through the jungles of South America or paddle boat through a restored Florida wetland. The zoo is home to 880 animals representing 182 species from around Florida and the world.
    Photo courtesy of Brevard Zoo

  • Audubon Zoo

    Audubon Zoo
    New Orleans

    Situated in historic uptown New Orleans, the Audubon Zoo features a spectacular recreation of the Louisiana Swamp – an exhibit linking the region’s distinct Cajun culture with the plants and animals of the surrounding habitats. Visitors get the chance to see black bears, alligators, red foxes, blue crabs, water snakes and a host of other animals with a view into the daily lives of those who rely on the swamp for a living. The zoo recently debuted a nocturnal bat house and a new troop of Western lowland gorillas.
    Photo courtesy of Audubon Zoo

  • San Diego Zoo

    San Diego Zoo
    San Diego

    San Diego Zoo has been awing visitors for more than a century, and it continues to innovate. The world-famous zoo, along with its safari park, represents the largest and most diverse zoological collection in the world. Visitors at the zoo can explore seven zones, including the award-winning Elephant Odyssey with its one-of-a-kind Elephant Care Center (ever seen an elephant pedicure?). The largest collection of koalas outside Australia reside within the Australian Outback exhibit. The zoo’s largest expansion to date – Africa Rocks – opened in 2017 with animals from six different habitats on the continent, like penguins, lemurs, leopards and a host of African birds.
    Photo courtesy of AFP PHOTO / SAN DIEGO ZOO / TAMMY SPRATT

  • Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

    Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
    Tucson

    The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson blends elements of a zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, museum and aquarium into a seamless and unparalleled look at the region’s wildlife. Animals displayed along 2 miles of trails are integrated impeccably into the vast landscapes. Observing coyotes, peccaries, mountain lions and bobcats in their naturalistic enclosures is as close as most visitors will come to seeing them in the wild.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / Monica Lara

  • Dallas Zoo

    Dallas Zoo
    Dallas

    The Dallas Zoo is the largest zoo in Texas with 106 acres. Founded in 1888, the zoo features 2,000 animals, representing 430 species (not including fish), of which approximately 150 are part of the AZA Species Survival Plans. The Dallas Zoo’s world-renowned Giants of the Savanna habitat is the only one in the nation to mix elephants with giraffes and other savanna animals in the same habitat. The Dallas Zoo is dedicated to creating a better world for animals, and has a wildlife conservation mission that far exceeds Texas.
    Photo courtesy of Dallas Zoo

  • Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

    Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
    Palm Desert, Calif.

    The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in California's Palm Desert educates visitors on the challenges desert animals face to survive, through exhibits housing African wild dogs, ball python, caracal, bearded dragon, warthogs, hyena, mountain lions and sand cats. Standout exhibits include a nocturnal display, walk-through aviary and the Tennity Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center. Other guest favorites make an appearance as well – the zoo has habitats for giraffe and cheetahs, as well as a lorikeet aviary.
    Photo courtesy of Greater Palm Springs CVB @visitgreaterps

  • Fort Worth Zoo
  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
  • Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
  • Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
  • Brevard Zoo
  • Audubon Zoo
  • San Diego Zoo
  • Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
  • Dallas Zoo
  • Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

North America is home to hundreds of zoological parks, including more than 200 facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Short of heading out into the world's wild places, nothing beats a visit to the zoo to foster an appreciation for the striking animal diversity of our planet. We asked our readers to vote for their favorite North American AZA-accredited zoos – facilities that excel in the fields of animal care and enrichment, while also facilitating meaningful interactions between animals and human visitors.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Zoo are as follows:

  1. Fort Worth Zoo - Fort Worth
  2. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden - Cincinnati
  3. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium - Omaha, Neb.
  4. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo - Colorado Springs
  5. Brevard Zoo - Melbourne, Fla.
  6. Audubon Zoo - New Orleans
  7. San Diego Zoo - San Diego
  8. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum - Tucson
  9. Dallas Zoo - Dallas
  10. Living Desert Zoo and Gardens - Palm Desert, Calif.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning zoos!

License the 10Best Readers' Choice Award Logo

 

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Debra Erickson

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