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  #1
Top Zoo's in North America
Old 10-07-2008

Does anyone know of any of the top zoo's in North America. I would like to get a list of the top 25 - 30 zoos. Any help?
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  #2
Old 10-07-2008

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Originally Posted by Quartz92 View Post
Does anyone know of any of the top zoo's in North America. I would like to get a list of the top 25 - 30 zoos. Any help?
Don't you need to define "top zoo"?
Biggest?
Largest annual visitation?
Largest number of specimens?
Of species?
Best looking (most AZA exhibit awards? cleanest rest rooms? best looking grounds?)
Most hyped by the media?
Personal favorites?
Most satisfied employees?
Least pestered by PETA?
Most pestered by PETA?

you know
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  #3
Old 10-07-2008

@Quartz92: just go out and purchase the 2008 book "America's Best Zoo", which provides detailed reviews of 60 zoos, and at the back of the book it ranks the best zoos in 20 different categories. But in reality it is almost impossible to get a substantial list of the 10 or 20 best zoos in the U.S. or North America. Just for example I realize that you adore the Toronto Zoo and despite its deficiencies would rank it as an excellent zoo. I, for better or worse, think that it is a very large zoo that has only average exhibits.

The general consensus is that the Bronx and San Diego are two of the best in terms of visitation, exhibit quality, animal collection, fame, etc, etc. After that it becomes much more subjective.
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  #4
Old 10-07-2008

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Originally Posted by snowleopard View Post
@Quartz92: just go out and purchase the 2008 book "America's Best Zoo", which provides detailed reviews of 60 zoos, and at the back of the book it ranks the best zoos in 20 different categories. But in reality it is almost impossible to get a substantial list of the 10 or 20 best zoos in the U.S. or North America. Just for example I realize that you adore the Toronto Zoo and despite its deficiencies would rank it as an excellent zoo. I, for better or worse, think that it is a very large zoo that has only average exhibits.

The general consensus is that the Bronx and San Diego are two of the best in terms of visitation, exhibit quality, animal collection, fame, etc, etc. After that it becomes much more subjective.
You are right about choosing the top 20 zoos, I been to the LA Zoo about 200 times and would rank it high, but I heard that in "America's best zoo" they rank the LA zoo in the top 30 zoos.

I would love to read that book, do you know where can I find it other than online stores?
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  #5
Old 10-07-2008

Many zoos and bookstores should be selling the book, and it doesn't rank the North American zoos overall. It only lists the top 10 in 20 different categories, as well as the 25 best exhibits according to each author. There is an entire thread on the book here at ZooBeat, called something like "Everyone should own this book" or a similar title.

I personally think that many people rank their local, hometown zoo much higher than it should be. I live 2 hours from Seattle and love that zoo, "mstickmanp" loves the Los Angeles Zoo even though I've never heard that zoo rated very highly at all. There are several huge Toronto Zoo fans on this site, Melbourne and Sydney zoo fans in Australia who rave about their local zoos, and many others who rank their local zoo as amongst the best. It's all due to personal opinion.
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  #6
Old 10-07-2008

I have been to many zoos and aquariums to, more than 100, In Canada, the U.S. and Europe! My home zoo is the Toronto Zoo, however my favorite zoo is the Bronx Zoo. I have been to many zoos numorous times, I do not think the Toronto Zoo is the best, but i know it would rank among the top 30 zoos in North America! and if you have been to numorous zoos I don't think people would rank there home zoos high! Especially if they know the difference between good and bad!
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  #7
Old 10-07-2008

Just because its our home zoo doesn't mean we automatically call it the best,I like the zoo for alot of its exhibits.Im sorry if i sound like a complete inmature but Snowleopard your acting like none of us have been to other zoos.I love alot of other zoos and yes Toronto Zoo does hold a special place in my heart but it doesn't mean its automatically the best in my mind.For example i've been to National Zoo (make sure you go here) and i love there Asia Trail area compared to our Eurasia and Indo-malya but at the same time i love Gorilla Rainforest to the Gorillas home at Great Ape House (im sure you'll have quite an opinion on this one).Again i hope no one hates me or anything (although i don't blame you if you think im annoying child) because this is the one place i feel i can speak freely about zoos and i don't want to feel like anyone is holding some vendetta against me.Hope you had a great day at todays zoo and i can't wait for the next review!
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  #8
Old 10-07-2008

Well, I think snowleopard made a good point and we need not be ashamed if we have a special fondness for our "own" zoo. There is something about knowing the terrain, the animals, even the staff that lets us enjoy "our" zoo at a level at which we can never appreciate some other zoo we visit...even repeatedly. I recall the time I saw the Dickerson Park Zoo in Missouri. No one would put it on their list of Best Zoos. There's nothing wrong with it, except for lack of funds, Anyway, I could see that the visitors, there in SW Missouri, were loving it. It could be their Best Zoo. That would be just fine
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  #9
Old 10-07-2008

Did not know about this book. America's Best Zoo. Will try to buy it today, or at least order it.

Thanks again to Zoobeat.

I have been to most of the good zoos in the world. I am sure we are all aware, that Melbourne Australia has the best Zoo ;]

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  #10
Old 10-07-2008

Okay just read the thread title again! DOHH so Melbourne is not in North America! How about North Carolina zoo. Actually have not been there. It's just that it reads and looks great.

When l visited SWP after years of build up. I was very dissapointed.Went to Bronx Zoo in Febuary again dissapointed.As Zooplantman says. How do you define top zoo? The time of year would also have to be added to the criteria.

Many zoos have great features butt are let down by haveing 1 or 2 appaling areas on closer inspection.

I think the perfect zoo only exists in our mind. So that is why l say North Carolina.

Stuart
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  #11
Old 11-07-2008

A group of us are producing a master list of North American zoo guidebooks.

Out of my own personal ignorance the first draft did not include Mexico.

That said I am not sure any Mexican collections would make a North American Top 30 ?
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  #12
Old 12-07-2008

I have a particular fondness for Edmonton's "Polar Park", formerly known as the "Alberta Game Farm". It was situated just outside of Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada. I have a glossy, coloured, awesome guide book for it from the late seventies, and there is a thread on the zoo that I started here at ZooBeat many months ago. The animal collection was absolutely outstanding, with a massive polar bear exhibit with 6 bears...and the place went out of business in the nineties.

I also have a lot of fondness for Seattle's "Woodland Park Zoo", as it is a brilliant zoo with many awards and fantastic exhibits. It's difficult to escape being biased when thinking about a local zoo...

@zooman: you mentioned that you were disappointed with the Bronx Zoo? I plan on visiting in a few weeks, and so I'm interested in what exactly dismayed you. Had it been built up in your mind to be greater than it actually was?
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  #13
Old 12-07-2008

HI Snowleopard,

firstly l visited the Bronx Zoo in late March 07. So it was covered in snow! Not that that is such a problem. Many zoo's deal with this.

I was just suprised that they seem to move allot of ther animals away for winter! I wonder how much if any stress this puts on the animals involved.

Yes there is allot of hype suronding this zoo!

So how can they justify things like there jaguar enclosure? The poor animals had a log between 2 sheets of perspex!!

The new Congo Exhibit just how much money does this zoo have! $5,000,000 on artifical vines! They produce so many gorillas.{ I belive they are allot more succesfull at allowing the mothers to raise them now!!}.That in it's self is great yet they seem to take no responsability for the excess males!!!

Another plar bear bored to death. Exhibiting the sores of sterotype behaviour.

The Exhibit "Tiger Mountain". It seems a disturbing trend at the momment for zoos to have a exhibit like this.I know it has been going on for a long time. Butt never as much as it is now. The exhibit its self is great. I enjoyed the concept of viewing the tiger swiming in summer.

The fact remains however that. The zoo has l think 3 tigers that share the one exhibit. With rotation of the animals so that they are only in the exhibit for a few hours each per day. So of course they are more active when allowed out! Its just that l wonder how they feel about spending maybe 20 hours per day in the off exhibit area or night quarters!

I have always thought it is hard to have a good large cat enclosure. Till l saw the lion enclosure at SWP. I dont know if it was deliberate or not butt they shared that enclosure with some very fast! wild rabbits. The lions seemed to be getting allot from this enrichment. I wonder if they ever caught one???

Monkey House, how about larger exhibits and fewer species. I belive the public would not notice the differance and have a better experiance.

Jungel World. Many of the primates had no where to hide from the public! The ebony langurs were looked down on!! This is one of the more frustrating exhibit faults l know of. They seemed to have no real plants! I belive that concrete or resin serfaces must over time cause many joint and muscle issues.

The Reptile house. Reptiles need enrichment as well!!! [Okay maybe not snakes]The cuban crocs were just so lacking in any stimulation! Another small exhibit for the a large turtle [dont atullay know what species] who seems to be in most zoo collections. This poor guy who is about 1 meter across. Well his tank was not much bigger!!!

Snowleopard, l personally love a day at a zoo. I think you will enjoy the bronx zoo as l also did. Its just as you said the "hype" was really not justified!

Any zoo that that sets out as the Bronx does to breed so many gorillas. As we all know the public love a baby gorilla and 5 is better than 1!! They just have to be prepared to take responsability for thoose off spring. Now maybe if they offered $5,000,000 to Gorilla Haven to finish there project. They could solve 2 problems at once!

Oh and by the way it is free on Wednesdays.

All the best

Stuart Webster
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  #14
Topest zoo
Old 19-09-2008

The St. Louis Zoo is one of the country's best. Actually, both Parenting Magazine and Zagat's call it the top zoo in the nation. Not only does the St. Louis Zoo excel at getting visitors face-to-face with animals, it's also respected for creating exhibits that resemble each animal's natural habitat. Surprisingly, it does all this without charging a dime for admission!
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