A zoo is an important place for wildlife protection and conservation. Yes, there are animal protection groups that believe zoos should be closed. They believe animals belong in the wild. But can all animals live in the wild? What happens when a species is close to extinction because of habitat loss? This is where the biggest zoos in the world help.
They provide conservation and protection for animals. Yes, zoos are essentially animal parks. But unlike national parks, they do not provide natural habitats to the animals. Some of the most famous zoos provide something very close to the natural habitat.
Zoos are all over the world. From Asia to Europe, to Africa and North America, these are the biggest zoos in the world.
What Are The Criteria?
Before we get to the largest zoos in the world, let’s talk about the criteria. What makes any zoo the biggest zoo in the world? Well, it depends on the criteria we use for large and big. Do we measure the number of species in captivity? Or do we measure the total land area of the zoo?
Here is an example. The Red McCombs Wildlife in Texas has a land area of 12,000 acres. You can say it is the biggest zoo in the world. But this zoo has only 20 different animal species. It is more of a wildlife preserve than a zoo.
With that in mind, here are some of the largest zoos in the world with lots of species and animals.
Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park, India
This park opened in 1987, and since its inception, it aimed for the record books. The zoo spans 5,532 acres in the city of Tirupati, India. It is the largest zoo in Asia.
The zoo made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for another reason. They raised the largest leopard in the world, weighing up to 143kg or 315lbs.
The zoo is dedicated to conservation initiatives that include education, rescue, and rehabilitation. They also have a training program. The Venkateswara Zoo has its Caged Vehicle Zoo Safari, proof of its commitment to natural habitats and the well-being of wildlife.
The zoo has more than 100 species of birds.
This private and non-profit safari park is located in Muskingum County, Ohio. The place spreads across 9,153 acres of reclaimed coal mine land and it includes 2,000 acres of pastures. The best zoo also has a 27-acre Carnivore Conservation Center.
By area, it is the largest zoo in the world. They preserve rare and endangered species from the globe living in natural and open-range habitats.
Among the important areas, the zoo has the Audubon Important Bird area, butterfly habitat, hiking trails, and more than 15 miles of a mountain bike and hiking trails. There are also almost 150 lakes in the zoo.
Tourists can do activities like horseback riding, fishing, ziplining, and more. As for the number of animals, they have more than 300, but less than 25 species. The Wilds opened in 1994.
The Berlin Zoological Garden or some would say the National Zoological Garden in the city is the oldest surviving zoo in Germany.
It opened in 1844 and covers more than 86 acres of land. Their animal kingdom includes more than 1,380 different species in the zoo and more than 20,000 animals in total.
The Berlin Zoological Garden presents one of the most comprehensive collections of species in the world. It remains the most-visited zoo in Europe and one of the most popular in the world.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Here is another best zoo in Ohio. The non-profit Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is generous in land and conservation efforts. More than 11,000 animals are living in the 588-acre estate.
More than 200 acres of the land have been developed as animal habitats and public spaces. During its run, the zoo has raised more than $3 million for different projects and initiatives.
Tourists get a unique experience when they visit the zoo. Columbus Zoo is designed for visitors to learn while being entertained. And in a way that doesn’t disturb the animals.
Some of the activities they offer include Animal Encounters Village, Surfin Safari, Discovery Reef Diver, and Giraffe Feeding.
More than 2.5 million tourists visit Columbus annually. That makes it one of the most famous zoos in the world.
When we talk about the biggest zoo in the world, we have to mention Bronx Zoo. It is one of the largest zoos in the United States by area and remains the largest metropolitan zoo in the US by area.
Covering an area of 265 acres, the park opened in November 1899. Bronx Zoo has played a major role in animal conservation from its inception.
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the conservation biology institute spreads over 3,200 acres of land. The National Zoological Park is one of the parts of the institute.
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park remains one of the oldest zoos in the United States. There are more than 400 species. As part of the Smithsonian Institution, the zoo does not charge admission. Some of the major exhibits include Amazonia, Asia Trail, Giant Panda Habitat, Great Ape House, and more.
The zoo opened in May 1889.
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
Formerly known as the Living Desert Museum, the desert botanical garden and zoo is located in Palm Desert, California.
It includes the Sonoran Desert of the Coachella Valley and Santa Rosa Mountains foothills near Palm Springs.
There are more than 150 species and 400 animals in this 1,800 acres land area.
National Zoological Gardens, Pretoria, South Africa
The uniqueness of the Pretoria Zoo comes from the estate itself. It is wholly comprised of natural habitats. The flat plains are separated from steep hills by the Apies River. Each enclosure matches the needs of the animals living there.
Pretoria Zoo houses more than 700 species with more than 9,000 animals calling the national zoo home. It is one of the best world zoos.
Here, you can find local wildlife including leopards, gorillas, elephants, and more. But you can also see a rare sighting of Komodo dragons and kangaroos.
The cable car ride connected to the hilltops allows visitors and tourists a panoramic view of the enclosures.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Up until 2010, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park was San Diego Wild Animal Park. The name has changed since then. The zoo takes up a total area of 1,800 acres.
It remains one of the largest tourist attractions in the San Diego area. The Safari Park has a large number of wild and endangered species from different continents like Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, North America, and South America.
Located in Toronto, Ontario, the Toronto Zoo spreads over 710 acres. It is the largest zoo in Canada.
Divided into seven zoogeographic regions, the zoo displays some animals indoors in pavilions and some outdoors in a naturalistic environment.
There are different viewing levels for visitors. Toronto Zoo also has a section known as the Kids Zoo.
San Diego Zoo
You might be surprised why two? Well, the Safari Park is one zoo, and the San Diego Zoo is another part. They are the same but different. The San Diego zoo is one of the largest zoos in the world.
It covers a total area of more than 100 acres. The San Diego Zoo is one of the rare zoos in the world that accommodate and breed giant pandas.
The San Diego Zoo Global is a non-profit organization that operates the zoo and the Zoo Safari Park. They work to save species worldwide by uniting expertise in animal and plant care with conservation science.
Arignar Anna Zoological Park
Abbreviated as AAZP, Arignar Anna Zoological Park is also known as the Vandalur Zoo. It is a zoological garden in Vandalur, India. It remains the first public zoo in India.
The Arignar Anna Zoological Park is affiliated with the Central Zoo Authority of India.
The park might not be large by species, but it spreads over an area of 1,490 acres. That includes a rescue and rehabilitation center.
Chester Zoo might not be big by any means. It covers a land of only 130 acres. Compared to some of the other biggest zoos in the world, that is nothing special.
But the Chester Zoo is famous as a registered charity founded in 1934. It is the most-visited wildlife attraction in Britain. Forbes described it as one of the best zoos in the world.
Henry Doorly Zoo, Nebraska, USA
This is one of the biggest zoos in the world by space. But it is also home to more than 17,000 animals. The top tourist attraction in Nebraska always has large exhibits.
Famous for its research facility, the Henry Doorly Zoo houses the world’s first in-vitro-fertilized gorilla. They also have the world’s largest indoor swamp, indoor desert, and largest cat complex in North America.
To top it off, they feature an insect zoo, butterfly conservatory, and many more fun things and activities.
North Carolina Zoo
The North Carolina Zoo houses more than 1,800 animals of more than 250 species. They represent mostly Africa and North America. The zoo is one of the two state-supported zoos with more than 500 acres developed.
It is the world’s largest natural habitat zoo. It is open 363 days per year. They close only on Thanksgiving and Christmas. More than 900,000 people visit the best zoo every year.
The zoological park was founded in 1906 during the late Qing dynasty. It is the oldest zoo in China and the oldest public park in Northern China.
The Beijing zoo occupies an area of 220 acres, including 14 acres of lakes and ponds in the Xicheng District. The zoological park has one of the largest animal collections in the country. Their animal kingdom includes more than 450 species of land animals and 500 species of marine animals.
More than five million people visit the Beijing Zoo every year. It is famous for its collection of rare animals endemic to China. That includes giant pandas, red pandas, golden snub-nosed monkeys, South China tiger, and more.
Moscow Zoo, Russia
Let’s finish off the list of the biggest zoos in the world with one of the oldest zoos in Europe. The 1864 property covers 53 acres and houses more than 6,000 animals.
In the 1990s, an aquarium and sea lion exhibit was added to the complex. They continue to develop their species diversity.
Moscow Zoo doubles as a research and breeding center for endangered species. They study behavior and reproduction. And you can observe their efforts via footbridges that span the zoo.
More than 1.5 million tourists visit the zoo annually.