By Kate Tuohy
Zoos are a lot of fun, but they also serve a very important purpose. Zoos around the country educate people about everything from gorillas and elephants in Africa, to little creatures like hummingbirds and insects. Here are just a few of the many great zoos in the United States that remind us of that.
With more than 4,000 animals to see, and award-winning exhibitsthe indoor Asian rain forest to name just onethere's a lot to do at the Bronx Zoo. The Bug Carousel, which opened in 2005, is a big hit. Kids can ride on yellow-and-black-striped honeybees, a praying mantis, and even a dung beetle.
From baboons to billy goats, the Philadelphia Zoo has a lot to offer. It was established back in the early 1800s, and is considered America's first zoo. At the Tastycake Children's Zoo, opened in 1938, kids can check out prickly porcupines, brightly colored macaw birds, and even creepy creatures like tarantulas and bugs that look like sticks.
San Antonio Zoo
The San Antonio Zoo in Texas is a popular spot for schoolkids on field tripsmore than 100,000 of them visit each year! The San Antonio Zoo is home to more than 3,500 animals, including wallabies, kangaroos, and grizzly bears.
San Diego Zoo
Eleven giant pandas live in zoos around the United Statesthe San Diego Zoo is home to four of them. This world-famous zoo in California is home to exotic animals from all over the world. Some of these animals, including elephants, giraffes, and tigers make the zoo's popular Wild Animal Park attraction feel like an African safari adventure.
On July 9, 2005, a giant-panda cub was born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. This cuddly creature and his parents, Mei Xiang and Tiang Tiang, get a lot of attention, but there are more than 2,700 other animals to check out, too. From slippery sea lions to Cuban crocodiles, there's plenty of fun stuff to see at the National Zooand best of all, it's free.
A sleepover at the zoo might sound strange, but it's a popular activity at Zoo Atlanta. Kids bring their sleeping bags and spend the night playing games and learning about the different animals that live at the Zoo. In the morning, guests get a grand tour of Zoo Atlanta. Two African black rhinos named Rosie and Boma, along with gorillas, Chilean flamingos, monkeys, and many other animals live at Zoo Atlanta.
St. Louis Zoo
Set on 77 acres and established back in 1904, the St. Louis Zoo has an impressive and diverse population of over 9,200 animalsand this doesn't even include the 120,000 leaf-cutter ants! Giraffes, antelope, zebras, and hyenas are just some of the animals you'll see at the St. Louis Zoo.
Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago
The Pritzker Family Children's Zoo, part of the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, has wolves, bears, otters, and snakesall at a safe distance of course. With lots of interactive exhibits and cool activities, it's a fun way for kids to feel like they're in the middle of the woods, without actually being there.
North Carolina Zoo
Two female Galapagos tortoises were the first animals to arrive at the North Carolina Zoo in 1973, but a lot has changed since then. The North Carolina Zoo is now the nation's largest walk-through natural habitat zoo, and houses polar bears, sea lions, river otters, alligators, and many other animals.