Founded in 1889 by former President Grover Cleveland, the National Zoo is admission-free and located two miles northwest of downtown Washington, D.C., in beautiful Rock Creek Park.
“Today, it’s best known for its giant pandas that China gifted the U.S. in 1972. The outdoor and indoor giant panda habitat for Tian Tian, Mei Xiang and Bei Bei opened a new exhibit with interactive features and multimedia learning stations about panda biology and conservation initiatives in February 2019. Plus, visitors can listen to daily talks from zookeepers about giant pandas and other species like elephants, lions and gorillas,” the report notes.
The 163-acre zoo is home to more than 1,500 animals, including Asian elephants, apes, and sea lions. Its most popular resident, a baby panda named Bei Bei born in 2015, is also a big attraction.
The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, which has a facility to teach visitors about climate change, among others such as Memphis Zoo in Tennessee, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, and the Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, Arizona also made it to the list.
The report adds that although keeping animals in captivity for the benefit of human spectators is controversial, “many U.S. zoos are accredited by independent organizations and have shown a commitment to animal conservation.”
There are 215 accredited zoos and aquariums in 45 states and Washington, D.C., as per the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a nonprofit that represents such facilities worldwide. In 2016, these accredited organizations contributed over $22.5 billion to the American economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has licensed about 470 zoological facilities.