Blooloop, “the world’s leading online resource for professionals working in the visitor attractions sector,” recently conducted a study to determine the best zoos in the United States. Considering the institutions from a lens of conservation, animal welfare and education, the Houston Zoo came in at number 9 on the list, while the San Antonio Zoo landed at number 4.
The study, published last month, includes a list of 17 zoos across the United States – all accredited by the AZA (the Association of Zoos and Aquariums). Accredited zoos have had to undergo a stringent review process to earn it, and demonstrate their commitment to animal welfare every five years. Only 10% of licensed facilities in the US are accredited.
Among the 10% of AZA-accredited zoos is the Houston Zoo. Ranked at number 9 on the list, the zoo spans 55 acres, housing over 6,000 animals. Welcoming over 2.1 million visitors annually, the Houston Zoo is also the second most visited zoo in the country. Furthermore, the zoo has enacted numerous conservation projects over the years:
“It all stems from a strategic plan that we initiated when I first got here. We spent about a year really examining the role of our zoo and zoos in general, as we moved into the 21st century and the idea that we really needed to explicitly state and embody the idea that the zoo exists in order to help save animals in the wild,” said Houston Zoo President and CEO, Lee Ehmke.
Presently, the zoo is in the process of their Keeping Our World Wild Centennial Capital campaign plan, the Houston Zoo’s six-year, multi-phase project will comprise of 2.5 aces of new public spaces, amenities, and expositions that include its transformative Galápagos Islands exhibit.
The upcoming transformations and exhibits are part of the Zoo’s conservation efforts and education of threats facing Galápagos Islands and oceanic wildlife.
“We intentionally focus on making very strong links between our exhibits and our conservation programmes. Both those already in existence and those we are starting up. So there’s a direct connection between work that’s happening in the wild and the experience that guests are getting in the zoo.”
As stated, the San Antonio Zoo broke the top 5 at number 4. Landing at number one of the list is the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C.