Zoos are one of those classic attractions that draw not only thousands of tourists, but locals as well. Going to the zoo on a Sunday afternoon was nothing unusual for people in the past, and although nowadays the popularity of zoos seems to have diminished a bit, kids at least will always want to gawk at wild animals in cages. Sure, seeing the animals in their natural habitats is much more rewarding (and less cruel), but visiting a zoo can be fun, especially if you think that most of the animals are well cared for. So if you like zoos, here’s a list of the best (and most ethical) zoos in the world.
Toronto Zoo, Canada
The Toronto Zoo is the largest in Canada, and in addition, it is accredited by the American Zoo and Aquatium Association, which has a solid code of ethics regarding the conservation, rescue and rights of animals. The zoo is home to over 16,000 animals (including fish and invertebrates), and it is split into several zoogeographic regions which try to mimic the natural habitat of the animals. The zoo’s ‘celebrities’ are the gorillas, elephants, Komodo dragons and arctic bears.
Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Japan
The Higashiyama Zoo in Nagoya, Japan, is one of the largest zoos in Asia, and it is not only a zoo, but a botanical garden as well, and it also has an amusement park. Basically, it is a three-in-one packet of educational fun which will keep you occupied for the entire day (more than one day, if you want to be thorough). The zoo has over 125 species of animals (check out the incredibly cute koalas, and the medaka fish which flew into space with one of Japan’s first astronauts). The botanical garden is quite large too, with several eye-catching species and a beautiful Japanese style garden.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, India
Located in Darjeeling (and also called Darjeeling Zoo), this zoo is the highest in India, and sprawls over more than 27 hectares. This zoo is famous for its successful captive breeding programmes or endangered species like the Himalayan Wolf or the Red Panda. When it comes to rare species, this zoo is one of the best: you can see Siberian tigers, gorals, snow leopards and a variety of endangered bird species.
Al Ain Zoo, United Arab Emirates
Al Ain Zoo is noted for its size (over 400 hectares) and many species such as the Arabian antelopes, oryx, gazelle, eland and lechwe which have excellent living conditions. The zoos cat house is also quite a sight, with lions, pumas, black and spotted leopards and jaguars. Also, Al Ain Zoo is one of the few places where you can see the nearly extinct white lion (only about 200 lions are still living on the planet).
Wellington Zoo, New Zealand
Wellington Zoo is the oldest zoo in New Zealand (it was founded in 1906), and it has been described as the best little zoo in the entire world. It is one of the leading zoos when it comes to the conservation and breeding o endangered animals. Through the “Close Encounter” programme you can see up close animals like the cheetah, red panda, giraffe and lions. The zoo’s star is Tahi, the one legged kiwi whose leg had to be amputated after having been caught in a possum trap on a farm.