From the Author
It's a common misconception that all zoos are alike. This erroneous belief keeps many people from adding zoos to their travel itineraries. People ask, "We already have a good zoo in our hometown, so why should we want to see some other zoo?" The fact is, though, that each zoo is different, and some are unique. The tropical foliage at the Jacksonville Zoo is quite different from the evergreens of Portland's Oregon Zoo. An African savanna exhibit in the desert at the Phoenix Zoo is not at all similar to the savanna at the urban Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Some zoo exhibits, such as the Bronx Zoo's Congo Gorilla Forest or the Lied Jungle in Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, are unparalleled. Koalas, okapis, giant otters, and even moose are displayed at very few zoos, and there are still fewer than half a dozen U.S. zoos where you can go to see a giant panda. Thus, visiting a new zoo is almost guaranteed to be a very different experience than a visit to your local zoo.
Together, we have visited all sixty of the "Best" zoos featured in this book, many of them more than once. We have visited these zoos as tourists, often with family members (including children) accompanying us, and we have been careful to notice what would interest the typical visitor. Our hope is that this book will inspire you to visit more zoos around our nation, and that it will make your experience of these zoos even more rewarding.