With millions of zoos found all over the world, some stand out more than others. Among this list, you will find human exhibits, stone statues, parks that take “up close and personal” too seriously, butterfly empires and so much more that all should make your personal bucket list. Check out the most wild and bizarre zoos found all over the globe!
Oregon’s Sea Lion Caves
Discovered by Captain William Cox in 1880, Oregon’s Sea Lion Caves have been welcoming California Sea Lions for safe passage and relaxation well before its public opening in 1932. The privately owned wildlife preservative and bird sanctuary is part of the Oregon Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve to help protect the local marine wildlife.
Stellar sea lions are the location’s main attraction, but other animals like birds of the seagull, cormorant, pigeon and quail species can be also be found at the sanctuary. Even both gray and killer whales are often spotted along the beautiful Oregon coast as well, so check out the sea caves the next time you’re in Oregon!
Cuba’s Stone Zoo
This Cuba zoo is the only location on our list that does not actually contain living species, just stone replicas of them. Based in the province of Guantanamo, the Stone Zoo possesses over 400 pieces of rock all inspired by animals found in the wild.
Among the most popular to have their picture taken with are the lion, elephant, giant snakes, and ape that really attract crowds of massive proportions to the physically stagnant zoo-like garden. Although it is quite bizarre to picture a zoo that doesn’t even have live animals, the impressive and heavily detailed stone sanctuary welcomes big crowds every year.
Old McDonald’s Farm- Hampton, Virginia
Just to make all of our childhood dreams come true, Hampton, Virginia’s Old McDonald’s Farm is real. Opened in 1991, the farm contains 15 acres of 12 petting zoo barns, forts, playgrounds and a volleyball court, you know, for good measure.
The exotic animals you can find here range from deer and emus to llamas and tortoises and of course cows, goats, pigs, and sheep. Basically, it is a gigantic petting zoo to feed your inner child tenfold. Just like at your local zoo, feed can be purchased onsite but only $1.00 a bag in Nebraska, what a deal! You can even reserve gazebos ahead of time for parties- so hop on down to Hampton and check out Old McDonald’s farm!
Florida’s Butterfly World
Ronald Boender’s obsession with butterflies turned into the largest butterfly farm in the world, located in Coconut Creek, Florida. Boender founded the farm in 1988 on 3 acres filled with aviaries, a botanical garden, butterfly farm and research center.
Home to over 5,000 butterflies of varied breeds, the park’s aviary even welcomes the largest population of flight hummingbirds in the world. Visitors are even able to feed the Lorikeets, gander at the Bug Zoo and Insectarium while enjoying the beautiful Florida weather.
Norway’s Polar Zoo
There is nothing in the world like Norway’s Polar Zoo. Its interactive abilities far outweigh most zoos with a wolf and fox camp that allow visitors to get up close and personal with the beautiful animals, in a respective and safe distance. People are even welcomed to howl along with the pack during the “howl night activity” inside the animals’ actual enclosure! How cool is that?
The incredible zoo spans over 114 acres and is known as the world’s most northern zoo with “the biggest area per animal ratio.” The zoo houses all kinds of animals, including wolves, bears, red deer, reindeer, moose and musk fox. You have to see it for yourself.
Egypt’s Giza Zoological Garden
Covering over 80 acres of Egyptian land, the Giza Zoological garden was originally built in 1981 and welcomed the personal animal collection of Imsa’il Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt from 1863 to 1879.
Although it was once a very successful and popular zoo, the formal membership with the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums was lost in 2004 and they are now working with the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria to be re-accredited. Currently, Giza houses kangaroos, elephants, lemurs and monkeys, lions, leopards, tigers, bears and more. We cannot wait to see what the Giza Zoo will turn into in the coming years.
Nebraska’s Henry Doorly Zoo
Voted the best zoo in the entire world, Omaha, Nebraska’s Henry Doorly Zoo is a sight to see. Since its beginning at the Riverview Park in 1894 that welcomed over 120 animals at the time, this incredible park has grown beyond expectations to an African Grasslands area, Madagascar expedition, a Gorilla Valley, Butterfly and Insect Pavilion, Red Barn Park, an Alaskan adventure section, an IMAX theater and so much more.
The epic zoological empire is even home to the world’s largest glazed, geodesic desert dome that contains animal life from three world famous deserts: the Namib Desert of southern Africa, the Red Center of Australia and the Sonoran Desert of the southwest United States.
Argentina’s Lujan Zoo
As the world’s most controversial zoo, Argentina’s Lujan Zoo really gives park visitors the up close and personal experience of a lifetime. The 37 acre-long park contains massive beasts like lions, tigers, cougars, Asian elephants and brown bears. You can also view smaller species like foxes, red deer, sea lions, toucans and more. But what sets them apart from any other zoo?
There is nothing between park-goers and the animals; not glass, not wired fences, nothing. The danger does not actually lie in the fact that these animals are roaming freely around the park, although it is quite stunning to see. Sadly, at the cost of the animals, the park staff regularly has them heavily sedated in order to provide such a unique experience.
New Jersey’s Popcorn Park Zoo
Although Popcorn Park is called a zoo, it’s also the largest animal sheltering system in all of New Jersey. Established in 1977 as a place to treat sick animal wildlife, the park has since expanded to welcome both exotic and domestic animals that have unfortunately suffered the wrath of abuse.
The different types of species that the park has acquired over the years include geese, horses, African lionesses, bobcats, steer, tigers, mountain lions, camels, emus, rheas, muntjacs, binturongs and more. From emaciation to physical abuse and just common misunderstanding of how to treat animals, this park brings these animals back to life in a safe and happy environment no matter what it takes and it’s truly amazing.
Australia’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Home to over 130 koalas, Queensland, Australia’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is the world’s first and largest koala residence that allows visitors to hand-feed, hold and meet all Australian wildlife within the park. The incredible place has been open since 1927 and includes kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, wombats, echidnas, parrots, cockatoos, reptiles, a platypus and, of course, koalas.
Only minimal fees are required in order to feed and hold the animals, and the fee benefits the funding of research, new enclosure additions, and eucalyptus plantations. The next time you’re in Queensland, AU, visit the koala sanctuary for a unique experience.
The Living Desert in Palm Springs
Established in 1970, the Palm Springs Living Desert was created when the board of the Palm Springs Desert Museum anticipated the increasing housing and resort development and its potential impact on the local desert ecosystem. In an attempt to involve the community in their cause, the Living Desert was created for local wildlife as well as imported exotic animals.
A large portion of the zoo’s animals are native to Africa, like the Spurred Tortoise, Crested Porcupine, Black-footed Cat, Cheetah, Gazelle, Camel, Boa, Fox species and more. Many of the wildlife come from Australia and the rest remain local to the United States.
California Academy of Sciences
San Fransisco’s California Academy of Sciences has some of the craziest exhibits in the world, like the albino alligator that you see below and the Osher Rainforest that houses more the 1,600 animals, 250 birds and butterflies and 100 different, exotic reptile and amphibian species.
The incredible dome includes three different levels from three ecosystems: Bornean forest floor, Madagascan mid-story, and an incredible Costa Rican canopy forest. The zoo is an aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum all put together under one roof and it’s like nothing you have ever seen. The next time you find yourself in the hilly, chilly city, definitely check out the California Academy of Sciences!
International Centre for Birds of Prey
As the oldest center for birds of prey in the entire world, Gloucestershire, England’s aviary zoo is home to over 60 species of owls, eagles, falcons and hawks in hopes of preserving the beautiful animals through breeding, research, and rehabilitation.
Originally opened in 1967 as the Falconry Centre by the Glasier family, the center has been working toward repopulating the decreasing breeds of prey and spreading the education of falconry. Every single bird in the establishment has been trained and are often used for demonstrations and falconry courses at the center; it is like nothing you have ever seen! Incredible.
Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo Gardens
Featuring wildlife from the Hebrew Bible, Jerusalem’s “Biblical Zoo,” as it referred to as, is one of the largest parks in all of Israel. Originally the “animal corner” on Aharon Shulov’s Rabbi Kook Street, the zoology professor began to gather animals that were mentioned in the bible for his students to research.
However, due to the high rate of extinct animals mentioned in the Bible, it was not always smooth sailing for the professor, as well as receiving complaints from the neighborhood. After relocating the animals and benefiting from the help of the Jerusalem Foundation, the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens is now spread across 62 acres of beautiful land and houses over 2,200 animals both from the Biblical references, as well as endangered species.
England’s Flamingo Land
England’s Yorkshire Flamingo Land is not only a resort and hotel, but a conservation zoo that houses over 1,000 different animals as a proud member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.
From birds and mammals to reptiles and farm animals, the resort has everything that a normal zoo has with an entire amusement park section. Basically picture Disneyland with a real, live zoo. Originally starting out with just the beautiful, pink birds as the focus, Flamingo Land no offers so much more!
Much like the Giza zoo of Egypt, Germany’s Berlin zoo was a byproduct of a royal’s obsession with collecting exotic animals. King Frederick William II gifted the menagerie of wildlife to his son William IV in 1840, just four years before the new king and his trusted zoological advisor, Professor Lichtenstein, used the royal pheasant house as Germany’s Berlin Zoo.
After barely surviving massive destruction from World War II, the zoo still remains standing as the 8th oldest in the world and the largest in all of Germany. Today the thriving zoo welcomes one of the most diverse groups of animal species and offers up close and personal experiences with elephants, hippos, meerkats and even penguins! With a Penguin World, Nocturnal House, Hippo exhibit, World of Birds and Great Apes section, Berlin welcomes all species to its beautiful home.
Japan’s Yokohama Zoological Gardens (Zoorasia)
Japan’s incredible Yokohama Zoological Gardens is spread across 100 acres of stunning, green land that offers visitors passage to seven separate ecological areas: the Asian Tropical Forest, Central Asian Highland, Oceanian Grassland, Japanese Countryside, African Tropical Rainforest and the Amazon Jungle.
Due to the immense sizes of the exhibits, the animals featured are able to experience wild-like environments like the ones they would be found in, in nature. Over 150 different species are found within this massive park, as well as the Yokohama City Breeding Center. It might take you awhile to get through the entire park, but it is definitely worth the walk.
Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
Located in the beautiful town of Darjeeling, India, the 67.5 acre zoological park houses endangered species like the Himalayan red wolf and red panda, as well as specializes in breeding species that have adapted to the high altitude of Darjeeling.
Since its 1958 opening, the zoo has dedicated its existence to preserving and breeding these species mentioned above, along with Snow Leopards, an exhibit called Tibetan World and more, as the largest park in all of India. With an extensive collection of bears, leopards, tigers, pandas, yak, sheep, deer, pheasants, jackals and more, it is definitely known as one of the greatest zoo parks in the world.
London’s Human Zoo Exhibit
Significantly the most endearing “zoo” on our list, London’s “human zoo” exhibit depicted the behavior of typical animals found in such parks and really had the world talking. Eight of the 30 “raffled” were chosen for the interesting experiment featured in London’s zoo to “demonstrate the basic nature of man and examine the impact they have on the animal Kingdom.”
Although the exhibit was only available back in 2005 for a short period of time, we could not pass up the opportunity to add it our list, can you blame us? The most intriguing part of the exhibit, according to comments made by papers worldwide, is that the display reminded us how equal to the animal kingdom we are; “we’re not that special.”
Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo Gardens
As the only zoo in the United States located in a rainforest, Hawaii’s Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo is spread across a 12-acre piece of land in Hilo, Hawaii. With more than 60 separate species to view (except the recently deceased Namaste, the gorgeous white Bengal tiger you see below) the park features over 40 species of plants, flowers, and trees native to the island.
In Hilo’s park you will find deer, goats, anteaters, pigs, sloths, monkeys, lemurs, exotic birds, reptiles, amphibians and an awesome petting zoo. Visitors and non-visitors are even able to adopt several of the animals for up to a year for only a fee of $25 like goats, pigs, deer, monkeys, miniature horses and more!