The Sonoran Desert is much more than cactuses and coyotes, and the 98-acre Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum shows that. The one-of-a-kind museum features a zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum and aquarium. It is home to more than 230 species of animals and 1,200 varieties of plants. The museum, founded in 1952, interprets the natural history of the Sonoran Desert and nearby ecosystems. There are two miles of walking paths that cover 21 acres. The real highlight is the live animal demonstrations, where visitors can witness birds of prey in their element.
Home to more than 10,000 animals representing over 600 species from around the globe, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium leads and inspires by connecting people and wildlife. The Zoo complex is a recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Course. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium also operates The Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center and safari park located in southeastern Ohio. The Zoo is a regional attraction with global impact; annually contributing $4 million of privately raised funds to support conservation projects worldwide.
The Shedd Aquarium opened on May 30, 1930, and is home to 1,500 species, including fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians, and insects. With more than 5 million gallons of water, it was at one time the largest indoor aquarium in the world. Located along the shore of Lake Michigan, Shedd Aquarium was the first inland aquarium with a permanent saltwater fish collection. The aquarium is formally named the John G. Shedd Aquarium.
Atlanta, GA 30313
The largest aquarium in the world is home to tens of thousands of marine animals. More than 10 million visitors have passed through the aquarium since it opened in November 2005. Highlights include great hammerhead sharks, four beluga whales and four whale sharks, which call a 6.3 million gallon tank home. In 2011, the aquarium launched a daily Dolphin Tales show.
Atlanta, GA 30315
Zoo Atlanta was founded in 1889, when businessman George V. Gress purchased a bankrupt traveling circus and donated the animals to the city of Atlanta. City leaders opted to house the collection in Grant Park, where the zoo remains to this day. The zoo’s original animals included a black bear, a jaguar, a hyena, a gazelle, a Mexican hog, lionesses, monkeys and camels. Today, Zoo Atlanta features more than 40 exhibits that are home to 800 animals from 200 species. Highlights include a five-acre African Plains and The Asian Forest that is home to the zoo’s giant pandas.