The world’s best zoos transport you into the depths of the Indian jungle or an Arctic underwater playground, but what about the welfare of our furry friends? We’ve picked the top four zoos in the world that work as hard at sustainable practices and conservation, as they do maintaining a magical animal kingdom, and thrown in some tips on where to stay. Safari hats at the ready everyone! Get set to explore the world’s most sustainable zoos.
Founded by the late Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, Australia Zoo is famous for up close and personal encounters and an awesome saltwater crocodile show. More like a sanctuary than a zoo, animals roam in large enclosures, designed to mimic their natural environments. A visit is a great day for adults and kids alike as you learn about the importance of wildlife conservation from the Irwin family. Keep an eye out for Bindi and Bob, who make guests appearances when they’re home. Current projects are underway to protect many species including tigers, wombats, elephants, cheetahs and crocodiles.
Where to Stay:
Glass on Glasshouse: Just 10 minutes from the Australia Zoo on the edge of the Glass House Mountains National Park, each self-contained cottage at this lush B&B has floor-to-ceiling glass walls, keeping you close to nature. Cosy eco-fires and double spa baths are the perfect way to unwind after a day at the zoo. Fresh breakfast is provided daily in the kitchenette for you to enjoy out on a private balcony with views of the bush and maybe even a kangaroo or two.
New Zealand’s first zoo is also the world’s first Carbon Zero certified zoo – meaning any carbon emissions are cancelled out by reducing, reusing and recycling. Planting thousands of trees and purchasing carbon credits further protects the planet and its inhabitants. On top of housing more than 500 animals of 100 different species, the Wellington Zoo has a long list of animal encounters. Leave with stories of how you came face-to-face with a cheetah, walked alongside wallabies or fed a lion with your bare hands!
Where to Stay:
The Set Up on Dixon: Not your standard hostel! The modern, comfortable two-bedroom apartments are a great option for families who want to spend more money on the sights, not their stay. Centrally located opposite the iconic Opera House, four kilometres from the Wellington Botanic Garden and steps from the bus stop that will take you into the Wellington Zoo, this is the perfect starting point for exploring New Zealand’s capital city.
Quest on Thorndon: These immaculate serviced apartments all include a fully equipped kitchenette so you can enjoy a leisurely breakfast, pack a picnic lunch or enjoy a home-cooked meal after a big day at the zoo. Conveniently located near shopping, bus and ferry ports and a 15-minute walk from the city centre, the Quest is just far enough away to avoid the city noise. Kick back in your spacious studio, one or two bedroom apartment, each containing a flat-screen TV and laundry facilities, where you can feel at home away from home.
Since its opening in 1874, the Philadelphia Zoo has built a reputation for its conservation efforts, breeding endangered species in captivity and creating simulated natural habitats for the 1,300 animals that call it home. Orangutans, polar bears, African lions, amphibians and migratory birds depend on the zoo’s conservation efforts to keep their species alive and well. Philadelphia Zoo also boasts one of the most expansive, state-of-the-art primate exhibits for monkeying around in and mesh trails across the zoo allow animals more room to roam.
Where to Stay:
Sonesta Philadelphia Downtown: Turn your trip to the zoo into a full weekend of Philly fun by staying downtown just off Rittenhouse Square. Restaurants, buses and museums are all on your doorstep when you stay at the Sonesta’s spacious suites. But for those who prefer to balance sightseeing with relaxation, you’re welcome to chill out by the rooftop pool (city views included), or sample a craft cocktail in the hotel’s very own Art Bar.
The Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square: Looking for upscale service at affordable prices? You’ll be made to feel at home at the Warwick Hotel. After working up an appetite exploring the zoo, restore your energy levels at the hotel’s restaurant, The Prime Rib, before returning to your newly refurbished room. Free Wi-Fi and a big bed await.
Loews Philadelphia Hotel: Located in the nation’s first skyscraper, Loews Philadelphia Hotel is a tourist destination in its own right. Located 30-minutes from the zoo by bus, it’s only a 15-minute walk to the Liberty Bell and other Philadelphia attractions. Although historically significant, each of the rooms and suites have just been renovated and now have free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs – not to mention stunning views of the city skyline. The large windows are perfect for watching the sun set on another great trip!
In 1844, the first animals were donated to Berlin Zoo by King Frederick William IV of Prussia from his private collection. And despite most of the zoo being destroyed in the Second World War, it is now home to more species than any other zoo in the world, housing over 17,000 animals! The spacious and diversified parkland in the centre of the industrial city is a surprising ground for conservation and for visitors to witness animals in their near-natural habitats. By collaborating with other conservation organisations, Berlin Zoo helps protect endangered species around the world and even reintroduces some of their animals back into the wild.
Where to Stay:
Sofitel Berlin Kurfürstendamm: A 10-minute walk away from Berlin Zoo, Sofitel Berlin is conveniently located just off the main boulevard of the city, filled with trendy shops and restaurants. Escape the bustle of the city in your spacious room’s cloud-like bed or relax in the hammam, sauna and gym. The typical German breakfast buffet is sure to fill your belly and charge your batteries for a day of zoo fun!