Here’s a travel goal everyone can get behind: seeing baby animals. Around the world, zoos offer travelers the chance to get up close and personal with tiny rhinos, lanky giraffes, social meerkats, and quivering newborn calves. Zoos let you not only experience these pocket-size creatures acquainting themselves with the world for the very first time, but learn about diverse eco-systems, rare and endangered species, and how these critters interact in the wild. With customizable itineraries and insider tours at all the best zoos, consider Travel + Leisure your ultimate resource for finding the cutest animals that will delight the whole family.
The circle of life
At the world’s top zoos, you’ll run into familiar characters like elephants, polar bears, and walruses, as well as meet lesser-known species like the Thailand clouded leopard and the armadillo-like pangolin from Asia and Africa. Close to 800,000 animals reside in the zoos and aquariums of the U.S. alone, so there’s endless opportunity to watch mother gorillas wrestle with their babies or find out just how much an ostrich egg weighs.
As environmental awareness spreads, eco-conscious zoos are upping their commitment to wildlife—and the planet. Leading zoos in Detroit, Vancouver, and Oregon have begun to launch commendable programs that turn organic animal waste into electricity and use alternative energy sources to power their facilities, and more are following suit.
Go under the sea at an aquarium
Are you fonder of the action that takes place underwater? Travel + Leisure has you covered with guides to the world’s best aquariums. Explore the rich diversity of marine life at aquariums in Columbus, Atlanta, and Baltimore, where indoor (and gloriously air-conditioned) exhibits are home to species such as whale sharks, clown fish, coral reefs, and, of course, penguins.
Prefer to visit sea creatures in their natural habitats? In Hawaii, witness sea turtles hatch on the sand, or swim with tropical fish at a unique underwater sculpture museum in the Canary Islands. Travel + Leisure’s extensive network of writers and travel agents report on everything from snorkeling trips to private whale watching tours, where you can see a region’s most spectacular sea creatures flapping, swimming, and crawling at their own pace.