Here at Yahoo Travel we occasionally travel for the animals. We’ve been to China to cuddle a baby panda, Australia to have quality time with a koala and Africa to meet the world’s most adorable hedgehog.
But you don’t need to leave the country to do some creature peeping of your own. Why not head to San Diego to see a panda, or feed a giraffe in Memphis or see a baby leopard cub in Denver.
According to data mined from TripAdvisor’s community of millions of users, these are the very best zoos right here in our own backyard.
Related: Please DO Feed the Animals Here
In Omaha, you can wave hello to this little guy. (Photo: Henry Doorly Zoo)
1. Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Nebraska
Head to Gorilla Valley, Orangutang Forest or Stingray beach at one of the largest and most interactive zoos in America.
You don’t have to go all the way to China to see a panda. (Photo: TripAdvisor)
2. San Diego Zoo, San Diego, California
The San Diego Zoo lets you do early morning tours with the pandas or late nights with the koalas. Take your pick. But don’t take our word for it. You can check it out for yourself with one of their many live animals cameras.
Watch This Baby Panda Turn 2!
Get your groove on while the elephants cool off at the St. Louis Zoo. (Photo: TripAdvisor)
3. St. Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, Missouri
This zoo cranks up their rock and roar every weekend with their Jungle Boogie concert series, where admission to the zoo and the concert are both free.
And you thought you had to go to Africa to get this close to the rhinos. (Photo: TripAdvisor)
4. San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Escondido, California
The city of San Diego has gone and gotten a twofer when it comes to incredible zoos. Join the Africa Tram here or the Lemur Walk. Witness the fastest land mammal, the cheetah, up close and personal as it goes for a run. Fancy getting above it all? Get a bird’s eye view in the Balloon Safari high above the park.
The giraffes here just want to get to know you better. (Photo: TripAdvisor)
5. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Set on 146 acres with 550 animals from 119 species, this charming Rocky Mountain zoo lets you ride above the animals in a refurbished chairlift.
This guy looks ready for a nap. (Photo: TripAdvisor)
6. Memphis Zoo, Memphis, Tennessee
Forget Graceland. Head to the Memphis Zoo, where you can feed the penguins, giraffes, and the elephants.
Meet Saya, the clouded baby leopard cub. (Photo: Denver Zoo)
7. Denver Zoo, Denver, Colorado
Go right now and you won’t just see the zoo’s three cuddly wolf cubs, but you’ll get to see the three clouded leopard cubs. Hurry. They grow up fast. It’s most fun to head there during one of their special events like the ice cream social or Brew at the Zoo, which features tastings from 40 local breweries.
You don’t go to the parrots, they come to you here. (Photo: TripAdvisor)
8. Riverbanks Zoos and Botanical Garden, Columbia, South Carolina
It’s good now — but it’s about to be better. Riverbanks just broke ground on a $36-million expansion and development project that will create a state-of-the-art seal/sea lion exhibit, a new grizzly bear, and an otter habitat.
And you thought you’d have to go to Rajasthan to see a tiger this close. (Photo: TripAdvisor)
9. Zoo Miami, Miami, Florida
You haven’t really lived until you’ve fed a one-horned Indian rhino out of the palm of your hand. This is the place to cross that off your bucket list.
Bowie the baby elephant just turned one! (Photo: Fort Worth Zoo Facebook)
10. Fort Worth Zoo, Fort Worth, Texas
Pay a visit to the oldest zoo in Texas. Back in 1909 the zoo had just one lion, two bear cubs, an alligator, a coyote and a few rabbits. Today they have more than 7,000 animals. That’s what we call a growth spurt.
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