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Trip Zoos Zoos   All of the zoos that I have visited since the summer of 2015. Walter Ch (US)
USA

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All of the zoos that I have visited since the summer of 2015.

  • 03Jun 2015

    1 Philadelphia Zoo 06/03/2015 USA —

    Philadelphia, USA

    Description

    The Philadelphia Zoo is often advertised as the nation’s first zoo. It was chartered in 1859, but would not open to the public until 1874, due to the Civil War. By then, the Central Park Zoo had already opened in 1864. So is the Philly zoo really the nation’s first zoo? Depends on how you look at it!

    As it located outside the main touristy areas of the city, getting there can be a little tricky, as there are 2 ways. One is by SEPTA Bus 32, but pay attention, as it can be easily missed. Another way is the purple minibus called the Philly Phlash, which is your better bet, since it drops you off much closer to the main entrance.

    The zoo has a nice collection. I have listed some of the highlights in the blog, but will list them here as well. They would include…

    1. Getting an underwater view of the giants otters at Carnivore Kingdom, or polar bears in Bear Country
    2. The variety of snakes and frogs in the Reptiles and Amphibians
    3. Variety of birds, divided by region in the McNeil Avian Center
    4. Seeing the lion cubs playing with each other in First Niagara Big Cat Falls
    5. Seeing a collection of primates playing around in the PECO Primate Reserve (though the enclosures are a bit small)

    But the biggest one of all, is the Zoo360 Animal Exploration Trails, which are elevated walkways throughout the zoo, allowing some of the animals to leave their enclosure and walk around. A type of enrichment, giving the animal something to do. It was really something, for example, when walking and seeing a tiger right above me. And right by the dining area of a restaurant, where I was eating at the time.

    The zoo is circular for the most part, so it is not hard to get around, with some sections a little out of the way, like the McNeil Avian Center and Bird Valley.

    This is a nice zoo to visit, and if you are a zoo enthusiast, then it is a must, mainly for Zoo360.

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  • 29Jul 2015

    2 Cleveland Metroparks Zoo 07/29/2015 USA —

    Cleveland, USA

    Description

    Admission includes visit to the zoo and the Rainforest, which are in separate locations. To get to the Rainforest, you have to exit the zoo. Make sure you still have your ticket.

    I considering these parts to be the highlights of this zoo…

    1. African Elephant Crossing – mainly to see the elephants and their indoor facility. Plus where the meerkats are displayed

    2. Wolf Wilderness – replica of a cabin in the woods, and where you can see the Mexican gray wolf. Best part of Northern Trek.

    3. Rainforest – where the reptiles, amphibians, bugs and other mammals are, along with a bunch of tropical plants. A very nice walkthrough the place

    4. Sarah Alison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine – a veterinary hospital, where you can see the different rooms where the animals get medical care. And if one is scheduled, then you can witness one actually happening. Sadly (or not), none were scheduled on the day of my visit.

    And I thought these were disappointments…

    1. Australian Adventure – felt too much like a theme park, with not enough emphasis on the animals. While not terrible, I felt like it could be better. Overall, I thought it was average at best.

    2. Primate, Cat, and Aquatics – felt like a step back in time, and not in a good way, with its outdated enclosures. Not to mention, it is really out of the way, as you have to go up a boardwalk called Deckwalk to get to it. But at least, it is shaded.

    3. The rest of Northern Trek – more outdated enclosures. The temporary one for the African penguins is so small.

    4. The layout of the zoo – a bunch of backtracking and detouring, as the zoo is not circular. Also, there is a highway bridge over it, which can be really distracting. This can be too much on a hot summer day.

    Overall, I find this zoo to be a little above average, or 3 ½ stars, as I find the highlights and disappointments to equal out here. If you are already in town, and never seen elephants or koalas before, then this zoo is definitely worth going to.

    I put a huge amount of photos in this review, which can serve as a list of most animals that I have seen, and some in relation to the layout and other features of the zoo.

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  • 31Jul 2015

    3 Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 07/31/2015 USA —

    Cincinnati, USA

    Description

    Located north of downtown, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is considered the second oldest zoo in the US. A bus ride from downtown, passing by a university, you get off when you see a sign on a hillside. Then cross the street, and find a short path, which should lead you to crossing the bridge, to get to the zoo entrance.

    Highlights of the zoo include…

    1. Africa – the zoo’s newest addition, which has a lush landscape, with a variety of animals sharing it. Those animals include ostrich, impala, pelican, gazelle, and more. Separate enclosures for meerkats, painted dogs, lions, and giraffes.

    2. Passenger Pigeon Memorial – a memorial to Martha, the last surviving passenger pigeon who died in 1914 at this very zoo. A nice exhibit on the species, and how it went from being really numerous to extinction. This is also where the last Carolina parakeet lived as well. Also, displays on animals that were saved from extinction.

    3. Otto M. Budig Manatee Springs – a nice exhibition on the wildlife in Florida, with manatees, American alligators and more on display. And some interactive exhibits on the region.

    4. Jungle Trails – a nice walkthrough the forest, with the trail taking you to separate buildings, for tropical Asian and African animals, with some animals outside along the way. Like the orangutans and colobus monkeys.

    5. Variety of animals – there just seems to be a huge collection of animals, with a lot to see in the zoo. Including some rarities, like white lions, Indian rhinos, Asian elephants and Komodo dragons, along with a variety of birds in the World of the Wings building.

    And some disappointments…

    1. Overall layout of the zoo – while it is circular, I find it annoying to do some backtracking, as the entry and exit into sections seem to be really far apart.

    2. Reptile House – very small collection of snakes and frogs, in a small and old building. But the architecture is nice and historic, dating back to the times when the zoo first opened. But is this why people visit a zoo? Also, a letdown for the fans of snakes.

    3. The bear exhibits - kind of small, especially the polar bear one. The underwater viewing is a disappointment as well.

    There is also the World of the Insect, which I hear, is definitely worth it for fans of bugs! I can’t list it as a highlight here, since I did not visit it. But thought I should just mention that. ;)

    Also, the botanical garden part is throughout the zoo, hence why it feels more natural and less urban than some of the other zoos that I have been to. There is no separate part for it, at least not to my knowledge.

    I give this zoo 4 stars, as I find the highlights to outweigh the disappointments. Overall, I think this is a very nice zoo to visit, and worth visiting if you are already in Cincinnati.

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  • 02Aug 2015

    4 Lincoln Park Zoo 08/02/2015 USA —

    Chicago, USA

    Description

    Located in the park of the same name, the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of Chicago’s zoos, located north of downtown. Getting to it, you would have to take a bus to get there, as none of the El train lines reach there. But still, more worth it than driving there.

    This zoo has free admission, so you can split your visit into different days. Though relatively small, it can be seen in about 4 hours, which was how long it would have taken me, if not for a rain storm. And sometimes, you have to exit and enter the zoo, to get to different parts of it. Like getting from the main part of the zoo, to the Farm-in-the-Zoo part.

    The highlights of the zoo for me…

    1. Regenstein African Journey – a nice walkthrough the rainforest and savannah of Africa. And where you can see the rare pygmy hippo, the smaller version of the regular hippos.

    2. Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House – where there are some reptiles and nocturnal animals are, which was one part. The other part is a walkthrough a greenhouse-like forest, where you see some of the small animals.

    3. Regenstein Center for African Apes – where you can see gorillas both indoors and outdoors. Also the home of the chimpanzees as well.

    And the huge disappointment…

    Kovler Lion House – while the building looks nice, with its historical architecture, it lacks charm. It has outdated enclosures, reminding me of the old cat houses with concrete cages. Not comfortable for the cats in there, and not comfortable for me to have to see it.

    The rest are either nothing special (which is numerous), with the exception of the McCormick Bird House. I thought that was a mixed bag would include the McCormick Bird House, which I liked how it was organized by different types of habitat, but did not like the outdated and dull-looking exhibits.

    Definitely not one of the best zoos, and probably the lowest ranked one for me, as it does not compare to some of the others I have been to recently.

    But it is not terrible at all. Far from it, as this zoo does have a good collection of animals, and a few nice sections to go through. And it is really hard to argue with the free admission, and being easier to reach, and not nearly as overwhelming to see. I would give it 3 stars!

    And in case you’re wondering, there are 5 different buildings with the Regenstein name attached to it. I am sure someone can tell me who or what this Regenstein is.

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  • 24Sep 2015

    5 Como Park Zoo & Conservatory 09/24/2015 USA —

    St Paul, USA

    Description

    Located in the same name as the park that it is in, the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is a zoo and greenhouse in St. Paul.

    Getting there by public transportation, take the Green Line to the Lexington Pkwy stop. Then Bus #83 northbound, getting off at a stop on Como Ave. Then walk through the park to get to the zoo.

    The zoo entrance is through the Conservatory building, which is also the visitor center building. Admission is free, though there is a $2 suggested donation.

    This zoo is small, and can be seen in about an hour. But still worth checking out, as I thought the Large Cats building and the underwater view of the polar bears swimming in Polar Bear Odyssey, were definite highlights. The Primates building is worth a look as well, with its Gorilla Forest, where the lowland gorillas live.

    One of the parts that I did not really care for, was Tropical Encounters in the Conservatory. This is a small walkthrough, which has a few animals. The Conservatory part was okay, worth checking out for those who like seeing plants. Another part was the Aquatic Animal Building, with its small aquarium and a very small enclosure for the seals. Nothing really special about this.

    There is a small amusement park nearby, that may be worth checking out, for those who has kids. Not sure if there is separate admission for that.

    Considering the zoo’s size, the collection is decent, and the enclosures seem to be good for most of the animals. And admission to see the animals, is free! So those on a very tight budget, should definitely check this place out. I would give this zoo 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

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  • 25Sep 2015

    6 Minnesota Zoo 09/25/2015 USA —

    Apple Valley, USA

    Description

    Located in the suburban town of Apple Valley, the Minnesota Zoo can be a challenge to get to, but doable by public transportation. There are different ways to get there by bus and/or Light Rail, but it would be too extensive to mention it here.

    This zoo does not have a large collection. It does not have the usual animals that almost every other big zoo has, like giraffes, gorillas and lions. And as mentioned before, out of the way from the Twin Cities. Despite all this, the Minnesota Zoo is one that should not be missed at all!

    Why is that? For starters, it does not feel like a typical zoo, but more like a park, as the enclosures seem to be huge. Let’s start with the outdoor exhibition parts, like Russia’s Grizzly Coast and the Northern Trail. Seeing these parts, the animals on display, are mainly ones that can adapt to cold weather really well. Considering the Minnesota winters, this is a plus. Animals include moose and not squirrel (sorry I could not resist), but does have brown bears and Amur tigers. The tigers can be seen from 2 different sides, which include Tiger Base Camp and Tiger Liar.

    The Wells Fargo Family Farm is located at the far end of the zoo, and has farm animals. Probably the best of its kind that I ever saw, as it does have the farm animals, but also some displays on farming in the US itself. And the area being a replica of being on a farm. While out of the way from everything else, it is definitely worth the detour.

    There are some indoor exhibitions as well. While Discovery Bay is nothing special, basically being a small aquarium, Tropic Trail is definitely worth the time, being a walkthrough the different tropical regions around the world, with the animals grouped accordingly. A variety of colorful birds, along with some primates and reptiles as well. Just the environment around it, makes it really worthwhile.

    Plus there is the more local focus, the Medtronic Minnesota Trail. This part has animals like the coyote, puma, bald eagle, and other animals that could be found in the state. Also worthwhile!

    The Minnesota Zoo has a more natural setting, which makes this place more enjoyable to walk around, as the animals seem to live in enclosures that have more space and makes it feel more like a natural park than an actual zoo. And maybe its out-of-the-way location is a blessing in disguise. I would give this zoo, 5 stars out of 5.

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  • 26Sep 2015

    7 Lake Superior Zoo 09/26/2015 USA —

    Duluth, USA

    Description

    Located in Duluth, the Lake Superior Zoo is a small zoo that has a relatively small collection. Does that mean this zoo should be skipped?

    Finding the place can be a little tricky, especially since the main street is under construction and blocked off the main entrance to the parking lot. I am sure there is a way to get there by public bus, but I drove to this place. And had to cut through a residential area to get to the parking lot.

    The entire zoo can be seen within an hour, as it is really small and does not have a lot of animals to see. And they are spread out on its grounds, surrounded mostly by a forest. But strangely enough, none of these are strikes against the zoo, but somehow, work in this zoo’s favor. That is because of the environment that it is located in. Put all these factors together, and you got a zoo that is really enjoyable.

    The zoo is mostly surrounded by a forest, and the Kingsbury Creek flowing through the zoo, both of which, adds a lot of charm to this place. That makes walking through this place, really enjoyable, as you get from one part to another.

    Also, from the main building, there is a deck overseeing the Amur tiger enclosure, where you can also see the surrounding area of the zoo. And the enclosures for the animals are well enough that they seem to do well there. And enough of a variety of animals from different parts of the world, like African lions, ringed-tailed lemurs, kangaroos, and brown bears.

    The Lake Superior Zoo may not have much when compared to the more bigger and popular zoos, but it certainly knows what to do with it does have, making it a very charming zoo to visit. And proving that size does not always matter. Those who like animals and/or has kids, should definitely check this place out. So to answer my earlier question, it should not be skipped. Despite its size, I give this zoo 5 stars out of 5.

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  • 28Feb 2016

    8 Elmwood Park Zoo 02/28/2016 USA —

    Norristown, USA

    Description

    Located outside of Philadelphia, the Elmwood Park Zoo is a small zoo in the town of Norristown, with a small collection.

    This zoo is small, and can be seen in an hour, with a very small collection. And not really organized with any themed areas, as they seem to be random with the placement with animals. But there were some renovations happening during the time, so that may have something do with it. The only one that has somewhat of a theme, is the Bayou building, which has a few reptiles and animals from the Americas.

    Being a small zoo, it does have a small collection, but a good one to spend an hour to see. The enclosures could be better, as some of them seemed really small, especially for the jaguars. One thing I could not overlook, was the fact that the ticket office ran out of zoo maps. I rely on them to make sure I did not miss anything, and like to collect them as well.

    This small zoo is worth checking out for any zoo enthusiast, but for everyone else, not really worth going out-of-the-way, as it can be tough to get to.

    I would give this zoo, 3 ½ stars out of 5.

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  • 04Jul 2016

    9 ZooAmerica - North American Wildlife Park 07/04/2016 USA —

    Hershey, USA

    Description

    Located in the town of Hershey, ZooAmerica – North American Wildlife Park (or just simply ZooAmerica) is a small zoo that is within the property of Hersheypark. Even though it is a part of the amusement park, there is separate admission for those who want to see the zoo only. But if you plan to go to Hersheypark as well, the zoo is included in the park admission as well.

    There is a separate parking lot for those going to the zoo only, which is free. Make sure you ask, if you are not sure. And close to the Hershey Story, the Museum on Chocolate Avenue, and along the railroad track, I think there is a little tunnel to go from the parking deck of the museum, to the zoo lot. Plus a different entrance for those who want to go to the zoo only, as you have to go through a gift shop.

    ZooAmerica has a collection of North American animals, and can be seen within an hour. There is a suggested route, that allows people to see just about everything in the zoo. And some parts organized by region of North America, but I don’t see it done very well. Some of the animals included mountain lion, bobcat, bald eagle, rattlesnakes, black bear, and more. A relatively good collection of animals, though I did not see too many.

    However, most of the enclosures are really small, and really outdated. And the placement of some of them is just plain wrong, like the one with the green parrot, located high along a hill, and almost impossible to see. It just feels like a step back in time, and not in a good way, as this zoo seems like it tries to cramp in as many animals as possible in such small space.

    Maybe it was due to the rain when I was there, but I did feel very underwhelmed by this zoo, to put it mildly. Even with low expectations, as I was really hoping it would be something really good, considering the admission price that I paid. But it did not, as it was clearly overpriced!

    While I am not expecting this place to be at the level of other major zoos, I can’t help but think there is such wasted potential with this zoo. Maybe the priority is more on the amusement park itself, but still, is it too much to ask for improvement? That’s considering how much money is made at the amusement park, and none of it seems to help the zoo. And I find that really unacceptable.

    The animals there deserve better! And so do we! I think this zoo is only worth visiting for those who are already in Hersheypark. And I am being really generous there. But by itself, this zoo can be skipped, as it is clearly not worth the admission price.

    I would give this zoo 1 and 1/2 stars.

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  • 17Jul 2016

    10 National Zoo 07/17/2016 USA —

    Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, USA

    Description

    The National Zoological Park is part of the Smithsonian Institution, located north of the downtown area. More commonly known as the National Zoo, this zoo is famously known for having giant pandas, and the one of the few in the US to have them. And this is the only one with pandas, that has free admission.

    If getting there by Metro, the best way is to get off at the Cleveland Park stop and walk to the entrance. And when leaving the zoo from the same entrance, walk to the Woodley Park stop, as it does go downhill. This is a big deal, after a long and tiring day at the zoo.

    Do I really need to say this? Just seeing the giant pandas is more than enough reason to come to this zoo. And you get to see them for free. It is recommended that you get to the zoo as early as possible, so you won't have to deal with crowds. There are outdoor and indoor viewing areas to see the pandas, located on the Asia Trail. There is a separate trail that leads you from the outdoor to the indoor building, called the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat. Inside, there is a good chance of seeing them really close, and more likely eating away. Also, displays on the history of pandas at the National Zoo.

    Of course, there is a lot more to see than pandas, as there are other interesting animals to check out at this zoo. Different viewing areas to see the Asian elephants, along with lions and tigers at the Great Cats area. Plus a nice collection of reptiles in the Reptile Discovery Center, along with amphibians in there and the Amazonia building.

    Another highlight is the Bird House, where there are a variety of birds, both inside the building, and outside, surrounding the building. Though, the Outdoor Flight Exhibit was nothing special, which is connected to the side of the Bird House on a bridge.

    The downside, is that it is very hilly. So depending on which direction you came in, as there are entrances at both sides of the National Zoo, it can be a challenge if having to go uphill in the later part of your visit. That was the case for me, and on a hot day, makes it even more tiring. Also, if you want to pick up a zoo map, you will have to pay $5, which supposedly goes to conservation. I hope so!

    Also, if you can, avoid going on the weekends. And if you have to go on the weekend, I have been told that Sundays are generally better than Saturdays. This zoo is really extensive, and to walk to try to see everything, can take an entire day.

    Giant pandas is enough reason to come to the National Zoo in the first place, but the variety and huge collection of animals makes this zoo one of the best in the country. And being free just makes it all the better! I would give this zoo, 5 stars out of 5.

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  • 06Sep 2016

    11 Santa Ana Zoo 09/06/2016 USA —

    Santa Ana, USA

    Description

    The Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park is in the city of Santa Ana. While I did not have too much difficulty finding it, it can be tricky to find it. So you will definitely have to look up directions ahead of time. The zoo is in a residential area.

    The Santa Ana Zoo consists mainly of Central and South American animals. A pretty good collection, with a variety, especially monkeys. In fact, this zoo is sometimes nicknamed “The Monkey Zoo”, due to the minimum requirement of having at least 50 monkeys. That was on the condition of receiving a huge donation from Joseph E. Prentice, back in 1952. Hence, the name of the park where the zoo is located.

    Speaking of monkeys, they are in a row of cages, known as Monkey Row. Also called Primate Row, there are a nice collection of them, like lemurs and colobus monkeys. Though, not easy to see the animals in such outdated cages, which makes it less appealing to see.

    In addition to the primates, there is a variety of birds as well. They would have macaws in different parts of the zoo, and some inside the Colors of the Amazon Aviary and more. Plus the Crean Family Farm, which has farm animals and different types of owls.

    A small zoo, it can be seen in about an hour. For its size, it does have a good collection of animals, specializing in a certain type and region. Though, half of the animals are in very small, outdated cages, giving the impression of trying to cram in as much as possible in a small area. And hardly has any of the well-known animals, that one normally expects to see in a zoo.

    Still, this zoo is worth a look if you really like primates, and already in the Santa Ana area. Plus it is a cheaper option, to take the kids to, that can be done in short time. And a lot less crowded than the bigger ones. But definitely not worth going out of your way to just see it, unless you are a zoo enthusiast.

    I give this zoo, 3 ½ stars out of 5.

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  • 07Sep 2016

    12 Living Desert Zoo and Gardens 09/07/2016 USA —

    Palm Desert, USA

    Description

    Located in the town of Desert Palm, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens can be tricky to get to, once you get off I-10. You will have to pass by strip malls and gated residential communities, to get to this place.

    If visiting during the summer months, there is the option of the Summer Membership, which runs from June to September, with all the benefits of an Annual Membership. Worth considering if planning to visit multiple zoos within the summer season, as the savings are immediate.

    Also, it is recommended to come to the zoo as soon as it opens, especially in the summer. Mainly because the animals are more active, but also when it is more tolerable to be outside.

    The zoo is divided into the North America and Africa sections, and has a very good collection of animals from both of those continents. Eagle Canyon and Village WaTuTu (yes, it is spelled that way sometimes) are definitely highlights. Plus those areas are shaded, under a covering (or roof).

    There is the Tennity Wildlife Hospital & Conservation Center, which has different rooms, and a working hospital for the animals. Worth a look, and good place to take refuge from the heat, to get some relief.

    Other highlights include Bighorn Mountain, where the bighorn sheep have the mountain as their home. Another one is seeing the giraffes living with ostriches in the open field. The surrounding landscape definitely adds to the zoo, making it seem more natural, and enough reasons to visit this zoo.

    But this place is more than just a zoo, as the name would indicate. There are a variety of desert plants, coming from different parts of the southwestern US and Mexico, like from the Mojave or Sonoran Deserts. Basically, a desert botanical garden. This part alone, can easily take up the whole day, as there just seems to be a bunch to see.

    Also, it is an open-air museum, with the Indian Ethnobotanical Garden, with a replica of a home, and some other artifacts on display. Worth a look, as this tells the story of the Cahuilla tribe in California. But skippable, if time is limited.

    Also, there is the G Scale Model Train Exhibit, which is a model train set, in a replica of a western town, from the Old West. The attention to detail is really nice to see, and worth a look for anyone who likes model train sets.

    The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is very much worth visiting, whether to see the animals or plants. And I think it is worth it in both cases. A very good collection of both, and the surrounding scenery just adds to the place. I would say, enough reason to day trip out of LA to see this place.

    Also, if planning to visit the Joshua Tree National Park, which is a short distance away, this place is worthy enough of a stop along the way. Though this option will more likely require spending a night.

    So far, one of the best zoos that I have visited, and possibly a hidden gem. As I did not get to see everything, I would definitely return to this place when returning to Southern California.

    Definitely, a 5 out of 5 stars!

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  • 08Sep 2016

    13 Phoenix Zoo 09/08/2016 USA —

    Phoenix, USA

    Description

    Located inside Pagago Park, the Phoenix Zoo is one of the few attractions within the park. This review will be for the zoo only. It is accessible by both bus and car, and parking is free at the zoo. Look ahead for directions to the zoo.

    This zoo has a very nice collection of animals, in an area that is scenic enough to believe that you are not inside a city. And it is divided really nicely, in relation to where the animals originally came from.

    Starting with Tropic Trail, with animals from tropical regions. The main highlight is the Monkey Village. This is an enclosed area, similar to an aviary, but for the common squirrel monkey that runs around, and can get close to people. You will have to leave your things between the gates, before entering the monkey area. Another is the island with the gibbons. And a whole lot more to see.

    There is Africa Trail, with mainly African animals. The best part is the open savannah area on a hill, shared by multiple animals. And the Desert Lives, a trail that detours from Africa Trail, that takes you towards sandstone mountains. Very scenic, as it looks like a wide open area for the Arabian oryx and desert bighorn sheep.

    There is also a more local focus, with Arizona Trail, with animals from the state. Other areas include Children’s Trail and Harmony Farm, located along Tropic Trail.

    There is some setbacks, with the layout of the Tropic Trail area. The issue being that there can be a lot of backtracking, if trying to cover the whole area. And gets confusing at times, as it can look like a maze at times. And admission can be really pricey.

    Also, there is no place to sit inside, to cool off and retreat from the sun. I’m guessing to be more environmentally friendly, which I can respect.

    The Phoenix Zoo is really nice to visit that is definitely worth visiting, with its nice collection of animals. And for the most part, organized really well. This zoo is definitely worth a look if already in Phoenix, and need something to do in the Valley.

    I would give this zoo, 4 stars out of 5.

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  • 09Sep 2016

    14 Reid Park Zoo 09/09/2016 USA —

    Tucson, USA

    Description

    Located in the park with the same name, the Reid Park Zoo is a small zoo in Tucson. It is not hard to find, if coming from I-10, as it is on 22nd Street, which has a direct exit to it. One of the easier zoos to get to.

    Despite being a small zoo, it does have a very good collection. And the animals are mainly divided by regions, as there are zones for Asia, Africa and South America, plus an Adaptation Zone. And it can be seen in a short time, at the most, around 2 hours.

    The main highlight is the Expedition Tanzania, which has a herd of African elephants, in a yard that was recently added. Also, I did like going through the South America exhibit, which was a lot more shaded.

    Also, majority of the zoo is shaded, so that does make visiting this zoo a lot more tolerable. Especially during the Arizona summer. And the layout of the zoo, does make it easy to follow, with not much backtracking. The enclosures could be better, but I think this zoo does a very good job with what it has to work with.

    While this zoo has nothing special that makes it stand out, it does not have to be, as this is a zoo that is more for the locals. For the visitors to Tucson, definitely worth checking out if time permits. And if need something to do, or if you have kids. But I won’t quite say that it is a must-see attraction.

    For a small zoo, I would give this zoo, 3 ½ stars out of 5.

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  • 11Sep 2016

    15 Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens 09/11/2016 USA —

    Los Angeles, USA

    Description

    The Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens is located in Griffith Park, near the Autry Museum of the American West. While it is much easier to get there by car, it is still doable to get there by public transportation. You would have to catch Bus #96 somewhere in downtown.

    As the name would indicate, it is both a zoo and botanical gardens. I did not get to see the gardens, as I was more focused on seeing the animals. So this review will be about the zoo part. Oh boy, where do I begin?

    Let’s start with the positives… a huge collection of animals, as there is a huge assortment of them from different parts of the world. Especially in the LAIR building, with its indoor and outdoor collection of reptiles and amphibians. Also, the walkthrough of the Rainforest of the Americas, where it is enjoyable to see the giant river otters to go down the water slide. Plus a nice aviary to walk through as well, along with the Campo Gorilla Reserve.

    The zoo is shaded, and does look very nice, making it look more appealing. And feel less like you are in a major city. Also, some of the Asian architecture around the elephant yard is really nice, with the yard being divided into 2 parts. At the moment, some nice displays of elephant statues.

    Now, the negatives, with the biggest one being the layout of the zoo. It looks like a collection of smaller mini-zoos, combined into one big one, making it difficult to get around. And resulting in a lot of backtracking, and figuring out which way to go, to be more efficient. Also, those roundhouses of enclosures, that add to the confusion of the layout. There seems to be so many, and if you are like me, you try to make sure not one is missed. Not to mention, those enclosures do look unappealing. And it is very hilly, going up and down quite a bit.

    Also, there does not seem to be any place to take refuge from the sun and relax indoors. Just tables with umbrellas, which don’t work for me at all. Luckily, there is a lot of shade that may offset this. But still, the option should be there.

    Overall, I find this zoo to be a mixed bag, as there are some things that I really liked it. And some things that just either I did not like, or just plain annoyed me, big time! With all that said, I would definitely visit this zoo again, as I still find it to be enjoyable.

    I would give this zoo 3 stars out of 5.

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  • 04May 2017

    16 Siegfried Roy’s Secret Garden + Dolphin Habitat 05/04/2017 USA —

    Las Vegas, USA

    Description

    Located at the Mirage, the Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat is the only zoo on the Strip. Formed by the magician duo, who used to do a show with white tigers and white lions, the show ended after a tiger attack on Roy himself. Now, these animals are placed in a zoo, at the Mirage.

    Getting to it, requires walking through the casino floor, and going back outside, the zoo next to the swimming pool area. When entering the zoo, bottle caps are not allowed in the zoo. Something to remember, as you will more likely be carrying a water bottle, a necessity in Vegas.

    As the name indicates, there are only 2 areas in this place. The first part is the Dolphin Habitat, which is a pool with a bunch of bottlenose dolphins. There is a tunnel, that takes you inside for an underwater view of the dolphins. And outside, there are talks scheduled throughout the day, when the trainers give a talk about the dolphins. Plus they feed them and have them perform tricks. This part was definitely entertaining, and interesting, as you do get a very close view of the dolphins themselves.

    The second part is the Secret Garden, which has the white tigers on one side, and white lions on the other side. Plus Asian leopards on each side. There is also a regular tiger on display. Completely shaded, a good place to see some rare versions of both lions and tigers, in some nice exhibits.

    And that’s it! Considering that I paid $22 for admission, and taking less than 1 hour to see the entire place, I can’t help but feel disappointed. While the exhibits were good, there was not enough to justify the price that I paid. I would have expected more. Therefore, I cannot really recommend this place.

    With all the things factored in, I give this place 2 stars out of 5. And I am being really generous here.

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  • 26Aug 2017

    17 The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore 08/26/2017 USA —

    Baltimore, USA

    Description

    The zoo seems to be divided into 2 distinct parts, with one part being the entrance, gift shop and just one animal, which is the black-tailed prairie dogs. And the other part is the main one, which has 3 different sub-parts. Getting between the two parts, can be an issue, as they are quite a distance. If choosing to walk, you will have to walk up and down a hill. But luckily, there is a shuttle tram, that does transport visitors to the main part and back.

    But once you reach the main part, it is definitely a nice place to visit. Starting with the African penguins, to the start of African Journey. This has part of the trail on a boardwalk, where you see African animals along the way. Reaching the other side, is the elephant yard, with the African elephants. As it is mostly shaded, this part is definitely the best part of the zoo.

    Other parts include the Maryland Wilderness, which has a more local focus. This has the Marsh Aviary, along with a trail through a forest, seeing North American animals as well as the Farmyard (with the farm animals). This was a very nice walkthrough. And there is the Polar Bear Watch, which is small and can be seen quickly, but underwhelming.

    A small zoo, it can be seen in a couple hours. While not spectacular, this zoo is nice for its size. Definitely worth a look if you have the time and want to see some animals. And if you have a car, as parking is free. But not really worth going out of your way to see it, unless you are a zoo enthusiast.

    I would give this zoo, 3 ½ stars out of 5.

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  • 13Sep 2017

    18 Franklin Park Zoo 09/13/2017 USA —

    Boston, USA

    Description

    Located in the different part of the city, the Franklin Park Zoo is in the park of the same name, Franklin Park. And by being in the different part of the city, it is really out of the way, from all the other attractions. Getting there, requires a combination of subway and bus.

    There are 2 different entrances to zoo, and it does not really matter which side you enter. I would enter one side, and exit through the other side. The shape of the zoo is a bit rectangular, with a main trail going through the middle of the it. And different paths that take visitors to other parts.

    The highlights include Tropical Forest building, with a bunch of tropical animals in them. Completely indoors, it is a nice walkthrough. Definitely the best part is the different vantage views of the family of gorillas. And the Children’s Zoo and the Flight Cage were really interesting as well, along with the Bird’s House building.

    Now, there can be times when you would walk a quite a bit between seeing animals, as it does seem so spread out. And the layout away from the main trail, can get confusing. Plus the collection is good, but a relatively small number. This place can be seen within 2 hours.

    Overall, I thought it was a good zoo in itself, considering its size. Unfortunately, being a small zoo in an out-of-the way (some may even say it is unsafe) location, I would only recommend this place for the zoo enthusiasts. For everyone else, I think it can be skipped. Or only if you want to see some animals and really want to do something different in Boston.

    I would give it 3 stars out of 5.

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  • 19Dec 2017

    19 Central Park Zoo 12/19/2017 USA —

    Manhattan, New York, USA

    Description

    Located in a park with the same name, the Central Park Zoo is considered to be the oldest zoo in the US. That depends on how one looks at it, as this was the first zoo to be opened to the public, as oppose to being the first to be chartered.

    The zoo is located on the lower part of Central Park, on the 5th Avenue side, and divided into 2 parts. But still, a small zoo that can be seen in a short period of time.

    Starting with the main part, which has the sea lion pool. The views are nice, as you can get really good views of the sea lions swimming around, and get a close look of them, when they come out of the water. But it is far enough that you cannot touch them. This is the main highlight of this zoo.

    The snow leopards are nice to see in Temperate Territory, though they can be tough to see, being on a hill. And there is Tropic Zone, which is a walkthrough in an aviary, along with some primates and reptiles.

    The second part is the Tisch Children's Zoo, which has mainly domestic animals. Though more of a walkthrough and playground type of feel, with a little petting zoo. Not much to really see, but still worth going to, as it can be seen really quickly. This is included in the admission, but you will still need the same ticket to enter.

    Overall, I thought it was an okay zoo to visit, as it does make the best with the amount of space it has. A nice little diversion, but not really worth going out of your way, just to see this. But if you are spending time in the lower part of Central Park, or plan to visit some nearby museums (the Met is a 20-minute walk), then this zoo may be worth a visit, if wanting to do something different. And for the kids.

    I give it 3 stars out of 5.

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  • 28Jul 2018

    20 Lehigh Valley Zoo 07/28/2018 USA —

    Schnecksville, USA

    Description

    Located in the area of Pennsylvania of the same name, the Lehigh Valley Zoo is north of Allentown. Not easy to find, as it is really out of the way. Have to go on a side street after coming off PA-309, and going through a forest. Then into a nature preserve, where the zoo is located.

    The zoo is small, and can be seen in a short period of time. It is located in a very nice area, and does add charm to the zoo. Starting with the pool of the African penguins, and nearby having the amphitheater setting with the North American river otters. The other end has farm animals, plus African and Australian animals as well. A very good collection, and a good variety.

    The layout is really good, as it is just one loop, and you pretty much not missed anything. Very little backtracking, made it easier for me to not miss anything. An enjoyable place to visit.

    I would say this zoo is definitely worth visiting for zoo enthusiasts. But for everyone else, not really worth going out of your way, just to see this place, as it is not enough to truly write home about. Maybe if needing a little something different to do, and already in the Lehigh Valley area, and if you have a car.

    I would give this zoo, 4 out of 5 stars.

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  • 23Aug 2018

    21 Detroit Zoo 08/23/2018 USA —

    Royal Oak, USA

    Description

    Actually located in the town of Royal Oak, the Detroit Zoo is both reachable by car and bus. It would be much cheaper to go by bus, and who knows if you will get some extra benefits for riding the bus. I guess that may be dependent on time of year. Just have to be on a lookout for such promotions, to get a further discount, if you do not get there by car. And even ask the driver.

    This zoo has a lot to see, with some really nice exhibits. Starting with the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, which has a very nice exhibit on the different species of penguins. Located near the entrance, this is definitely a great way to start (or end) your visit to the zoo. It does have an underwater tunnel, where you can see penguins swimming.

    Another highlight is the Australian Outback Adventures, which is an enclosed area. Kind of like an aviary, but with kangaroos roaming around freely. So you can get very close to the kangaroos themselves, with no barriers around. Really nice to see.

    But the main attraction of this zoo, is the Arctic Ring of Life. Starting with the outdoor enclosures with Arctic animals, then coming inside to an underwater tunnel. The entire exhibit is nice to see. But if you are really lucky, you can see the polar bears swimming above your head. And it is truly something to see, as I consider it the main highlight of this zoo. But if they are not in the water, you may come away disappointed. Still, this part is definitely worth seeing, as the parts, both indoors and outdoors, are nice to look at.

    There are other parts to see, as this zoo has a very nice and extensive collection. With so much to see, plan on spending the entire day seeing it all, if this is your first time visiting the zoo.

    This is probably one of the best zoos that I have visited. For any visitors to Detroit, I highly recommend this place to visit, for its nice exhibits and great collection. I would definitely give this place, 5 stars out of 5.

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  • 27Mar 2019

    22 Busch Gardens Tampa Bay 03/27/2019 USA —

    Clair-Mel City, Tampa, USA

    Description

    Located in Tampa, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is both a zoo and theme park, as there are animals and rides. This review will be about seeing the animals.

    If staying in Orlando, there is a free shuttle bus that can take you to and from Busch Gardens. Just have to make a reservation online, and a pick a stop most convenient to you. Make sure you have the ticket, to show to the driver.

    As this is more of a theme park than a traditional zoo, the admission is quite pricey. But there are deals to get more of your money's worth, if also planning to visit SeaWorld as well. And an All-Day Dining Plan, which allows you to get a meal, drink and dessert per hour, at selected restaurants. Look at the web site for the listings. I think it is very much worth it, but it can be time-consuming. But you can get bottled water anywhere.

    As for the animal exhibits, they are spread throughout the park. But they are really nice to see, with some really good walkthrough exhibits. The best being the open field, replicating the African Serengeti, with African animals. While you can see them from park, it is recommended to take to the Serengeti Express Train, which takes you to parts of the Serengeti Plain, where one cannot reach by walking. Even the animals cross the track. Definitely do this early, as the line can get quite long later in the day.

    Other highlights include the Lory Landing, which is an aviary. And the Walkabout Way, where you can feed kangaroos and wallabies. Plus a visit to the Animal Care Center is worth a look, to see where the animals are taken care of.

    If there any issues, seeing the rollercoaster going through part of the Plain can ruin the illusion at times. Not to mention the noise from the coasters. Plus the animal exhibits can be quite a walk to get to, as they do seem far apart from each other. And as I said before, it is overpriced, if going for this reason only.

    Despite all that, I still highly recommend checking out this place. While one can point out that is similar to Disney's Animal Kingdom, keep in mind that Busch Gardens has been around a lot longer, as it opened in 1959. And the cheaper option when compared to Disney, as well as easier to navigate around.

    I would give this place, 5 stars out of 5.

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  • 25Jul 2019

    23 Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium 07/25/2019 USA —

    Pittsburgh, USA

    Description

    Located out of the way from the main parts of the city, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is not easy to reach by public transportation. It can only be reached by bus, and the drop off spot is not close to the zoo entrance. And have to walk along the driveway to get there, which can be risky, as there was no walking path part of the way.

    This is one of the few zoos in the US, that is both a zoo and aquarium. And it is very hilly, as the first thing you will see when entering, are an escalator and elevator, either one to get to the zoo.

    The zoo is a medium sized one, and very hilly. But the layout is very good, as there seems to be one main path that takes visitors to all parts of the zoo, with very little backtracking. And more than half of it, in the shade, making it more tolerable during the summer months.

    The collection is not huge in this zoo, as there are different sections. And most of it does not really stand out, to the point where I would go crazy about, as some even look very old and tired. There are the African elephants, plus the walkthrough to get close to the kangaroos. And the underwater view of seeing the sea lions and polar bears swimming, which can be a real highlight, depending on your timing.

    As mentioned before, this zoo has an aquarium in it. But this one feels less like it could be a separate place, and more like another part of the zoo. If that makes any sense. A good series of fish tanks, and one that has a variety of penguins, but none that really stand out.

    Overall, I thought this was an okay zoo, but for the difficulty that I had to get there, okay is not good enough. It's out of the way location, and no exhibits that truly stand out, I say, this is one that can be skipped. Or just worth checking out for zoo enthusiasts.

    I would give this zoo, 2 stars out of 5. And I am probably being too generous here.

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