‘America’s Best Zoos’ Author Weighs in On the Best

zoocoverMany zoos lay claim to being number one. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and San Diego Zoo all have top ratings – depending on the source you consult.

But it’s all in the eyes of the individual. 

Jon Wassner, co-author of America’s Best Zoos, is firm about that in comments he made in the Columbus Dispatch article, “Which Zoo is No. 1?”

“Different people place different values on what they want in a zoo,” he said. “There’s so much subjectivity involved.”

He and Allen Nyhuis list 60 zoos in their book, based on categories such as the best zoos for kids or bird lovers or exotic cat lovers. He believes the best ones appeal to both zoo aficionados and to families, teens and young adults.

In the article, Lois Foreman-Wernet, a professor of Communications at Capital University, says that rankings boost consumer confidence; ones outside of the attraction itself have more credibility.

Columbus Zoo’s number one rating is courtesy of USA Travel Guide. Along with its Jack Hanna affiliation, Wassner and Nyhuis cite the zoo for its world class exhibits and collections with around 800 animal species.

TripAdvisor ranked the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha as number one. Wassner and Nyhuis applauded it for its exhibits, stating they’re the “biggest and best of their kind.”

San Diego Zoo was named by Trekaroo as the best, based on reviews on its site. Wassner and Nyhuis say it’s among the best in the world, ranking it up there with Seaworld and Disneyland, adding that it’s especially good for its reproductions of natural habitats.

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo was cited by Parents magazine as its best, based on its “10 best zoos for kids” list. According to Wassner, Lowry Park was also rated by Child Magazine as the most family friendly zoo in America. A relatively new zoo, Lowry Park is known for its efforts to save the manatee along with close-up creature encounters, rides, and a spectacular animal collection.

So keep a copy of America’s Best Zoos handy as you travel – there’s sure to be a number one zoo in your area.




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