Brevard Zoo on 'best zoos in U.S.' list months after ranking No. 3 in USA TODAY readers choice awards

Brevard Zoo, take a bow.

Months after the Brevard Zoo ranked No. 3 on USA TODAY's 10 Best Readers Choice Awards, the attraction made U.S. News and World Report's list of "26 Best Zoos in the U.S" for 2023. Here are some things to know about the Brevard Zoo, what it offers and why it's getting national attention.

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U.S. News and World Report picks Brevard Zoo for 'Best Zoos in the U.S.' list

In honor of summer vacation, travel and family-friendly things to do, U.S. News and World Report picked their favorite zoos for summer 2023: "While not all zoos are created equal, the editors at U.S. News used an extensive research process to create this list of the top zoos in the country. All the destinations receive favorable traveler reviews on multiple websites, are accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums – an organization focused on the well-being and care of animals – and have been evaluated by experienced veterinarians and animal care specialists."

Here's what the publication said about Brevard Zoo: "The Brevard Zoo, which sits roughly 60 miles southeast of Orlando's theme parks and about 30 miles southwest of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, offers fun and educational activities in a manageable setting. Families can peruse the open-air exhibits to see alligators, giraffes and zebras. Recent visitors say the habitats were impressive, there was ample shade, and the zip lining experience was a must try. For a unique zoo adventure, join a guided kayak tour to see the rhinos and lemurs of Expedition Africa from the water or board the train to see camels, antelope and African cattle. What's more, the zoo is focused on conservation efforts to protect the local ecosystem with a sea turtle healing center and the building of living shorelines."

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What other zoos made the '26 Best Zoos in the U.S.' list?

The editors at U.S. News and World Report also selected the St. Louis Zoo, San Diego Zoo and Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, Florida, for its list of "26 Best Zoos in the U.S." feature.

Here's the full list, in no particular order:

  • Oakland Zoo in Oakland, California

  • Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C.

  • Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska

  • St. Louis Zoo in St. Louis, Missouri

  • Fort Worth Zoo in Fort Worth, Texas

  • San Diego Zoo and Safari Park in San Diego, California (two separate parks)

  • Bronx Zoo in New York City, New York

  • Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida

  • Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, Minnesota

  • Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska

  • Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Denver Zoo in Denver, Colorado

  • Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert, California

  • Philadelphia Zoo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Zoo Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia

  • Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington

  • Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado

  • Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island

  • Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona

  • Indianapolis Zoo in Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois

  • Memphis Zoo in Memphis, Tennessee

  • Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, Virginia

  • Houston Zoo in Houston, Texas

  • Lion Country Safari in Loxohatchee, Florida

Brevard Zoo ranks No. 3 in USA TODAY 10 Best poll

In April, the Brevard Zoo was voted the top zoo in Florida, and the No. 3 zoo in North America, according to USA TODAY 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards for 2023.

Here's what USA TODAY's 10 Best editors said about Brevard Zoo: "Home to more than 900 animals, the AZA-accredited Brevard Zoo takes the zoo-going experience to adventurous new levels. Guests can zip-line through the jungles of South America or kayak through the African savanna or a restored Florida wetland."

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What animals will I see at Brevard Zoo? What are the hours, cost of admission?

Brevard Zoo, 8225 N. Wickham Road, Melbourne, is home to more than 900 animals, with over 195 species represented from across the globe. Features include an exhibit with three lion brothers, monkey section, aviary, flamingos, exotic birds, otters, rhinos, zebra, crocodiles and marine life. Guests are able to feed giraffes and alligators. Other highlights of the zoo include kayaking, a train and Treetop Trek aerial adventure zipline (see below).

Brevard Zoo's hours of operation are from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the last admission at 3:30 p.m. Admission is $33.95 for adults ages 12 and older, $28.95 for seniors ages 65 and older, $21.95 for children ages 3 to 11, and free for kids younger than 3. There's a $2 discount if tickets are purchased online. Call 321-254-WILD (321-254-9453) or visit

Treetop Trek zipline features five obstacle courses, ranging from beginner to expert, with incredible views of the zoo and its inhabitants (ziplining over the alligators is so Florida!). Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Cost is $24.95 for chutes and ladders, mostly for young children (two ziplines), $49.95 for the zipline course (10 ziplines), $39.95 for beginner (two ziplines), $59.95 for intermediate challenge (14 ziplines), and $74.95 for expert or black diamond (14 ziplines). Some discounts are available. Call 321-254-WILD (321-254-9453) or visit or

Sangalang is a lead digital producer for USA TODAY Network-Florida. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram at @byjensangalang. Support local journalism. Consider subscribing to a Florida newspaper.

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: US News & World names 26 best zoos for 2023: 2 from Florida made list