According to Road Affair, the San Diego Zoo is the 3rd best zoo in the world. Ruth & I have been to this zoo twice. It has been several years since our last visit also with children, which was a disappointment. We spent the morning attending animal shows, so by the time we were ready to see some exotic animals they were resting and not to be seen. It was a good lesson. Since that day zoos have fallen out of favor. Many believe that caging animals for human observation is an outdated concept despite the continuing popularity of zoos around the world. Go to any zoo and you will find people looking at rare animals in large numbers. Zoos employ large numbers of staff and many volunteers. The San Diego Zoo is no exception. Attached to another massive attraction, Balboa Park, this zoo was very busy and well attended when we were there both times. As long as people want to see animals, it seems, zoos will be tourist attractions.
I learned a lot about zoos while researching this essay. I did not know very much about them before I wrote it. Perhaps that’s because I grew up in a city with a first class zoo that remains free. You can spend a lot of money, I have learned, at a free attraction. The zoo in St. Louis is certainly one of the best in the world. I was surprised to not find it listed among the 8 zoos reviewed by Road Affair. This is a travel blog that specializes in seeing the world. I like its spirit and its chief ‘come on’ phrase “Stop dreaming, start traveling.”
According to Road Affair, which has been around since 2014 and considers itself a major independent travel blog, it currently has a buzzy lead that promotes visits by travelers to the world’s most beautiful libraries. There are 15 zoos in the world worth seeing according to the couple that started Road Affair. They recommend visits to several zoos I am not familiar with. The #1 zoo they tout is in Vienna, Austria. Among its assets is the fact that it’s the oldest zoo in the world. The #2 zoo is in the United States and one I am not familiar with, the Bronx Zoo in New York City. According to this travel blog, the Bronx Zoo is 265 acres big and exhibits 6,000 animals. Its 3rd zoo is the one in San Diego that they freely admit might be the best zoo in the world while calling it the most visited zoo in the country. They mention its 3,500 animals. #4 is the Singapore Zoo that I know nothing about. The same goes for their #5 selection, the zoo in Beijing, China. #6 is the only zoo in Africa that they recommend. It’s in Pretoria, South Africa, and has a special feature. There are 500 species of marine life in its aquarium. The zoo in Pretoria has been around since 1889 and is the largest zoo in Africa. It has an endangered okapi. The zoo in Berlin, Germany, ranks #7, and the 8th is the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. This is the only zoo in the top 8 that Ruth & I have been to other than the San Diego Zoo. Most tourists get to the Taronga Zoo by boat from Sydney Harbor’s Circular Quay. I spent a lot of time while there observing a Komodo Dragon. Ruth got to hold a koala and still talks about this experience. Check out Road Affair, a travel blog, for their other 6 selections.
Visitors to the San Diego Zoo are given a map. Too late I discovered that it also has a Komodo Dragon. The most interesting thing I saw while wandering about it was a trainer feeding an elephant. The helpful zoo map was invaluable. I learned from it how to board the Kangaroo busses and the free tram, that this zoo specializes in Australian animals, and that it has a Red Panda, the most interesting animal I saw in the Australia Zoo north of Brisbane, Australia, run by the Irwin family. I consider it one of the best zoos in the world. How did Road Affair miss the St. Louis and the Australian zoos?