Get up close to exotic creatures in these world-class, interactive zoos that appeal to children and adults alike.
Text by Vincent Leung, photo by Holly Fretwell
Occupying 287 picturesque hectares in Canada’s Rouge Park, the giant Toronto Zoo is home to more than 500 species of animals from across the globe. Organised by zoogeographic regions, it keeps a variety of native breeds such as wood bison and elk. Don’t miss the five-acre polar bear habitat, which offers a special perspective through an underwater viewing area. It also features critically endangered species such as the Vancouver Island marmot and Puerto Rican crested toad. Interactive experiences in the Discovery Zone include the Waterside Theatre and Kids Zoo.
Wildlife-loving individuals visiting San Diego never skip a chance to hit up its famous animal kingdom in Balboa Park. The San Diego Zoo is likely one of the best known in the world, and will soon celebrate its 100th anniversary. It’s come a long way since it first started as a spot to showcase exotic animals in the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, and now offers guests a range of transportation options: guided bus, miniature train and an airborne gondola for panoramic views called Skyfari. Education programmes and tours enrich visitors’ experiences, and kids can get up-close with koalas, Arctic foxes, jacanas and other star creatures. Don’t miss the chance to embark on a mini safari with a tour through San Diego Safari Park, complete with elephants, lions, cheetahs and more.
Cages all but disappear at the Singapore Zoo. Situated in beautiful Mandai Rainforest, its verdant landscape serves as a wonderful shelter for 2,800 residents of more than 300 species, which are allowed to range freely around large habitats separated by concealed wet or dry moats. Highlights include endangered Asian species such as Borneo and Sumatran orangutans, white and Bengal tigers and sun bears. Take a night safari through the neighbouring 40-hectare rainforest, ride an elephant or let the kids feed the goats or groom the falabellas.
New Zealand’s isolated location led to the evolution of unusual native species such as the famous flightless kiwi, kea parrot, tuatara lizard and Otago skink, which are among the star attractions at the Wellington Zoo. The natives live happily alongside more than 100 species from overseas – from giraffes to kangaroos – in naturalistic habitats. With a focus on conservation and environmental protection, the zoo offers some amazing interactive experiences, including feeding cheetahs, lions, red pandas and meerkats. You can also sign up for a sleepover to witness the animals’ night-time behaviour.