Massachusetts zoos, aquariums, animal parks are excellent, world-famous

Massachusetts zoos and aquariums are among the best in the world. A visit to a zoo or aquarium is a fun and educational day trip for all ages in almost all seasons. You will find yourself coming back.

149 Pond Street Stoneham, MA, 02180 Phone: 617-541-5466

Large and exotic animals spoken here

Once a small collection of local animals, the Walter D. Stone Memorial Zoo is today a medium sized zoo on 26 acres near the Spot Pond reservoir and features a veritable cavalcade of exotic and larger species animals from around the world. Over its lifespan the zoo has launched new attractions and state-of-the-art exhibits including a large free-flight aviary. In the 70’s and 80’s, it began breeding endangered species. Featured are elephants, giraffes, zebras, pygmy hippopotami, sea lions as well as monkeys, wolves, jaguars, cougars, and a wildly popular black bear exhibit. Named for its inspirational director during the mid 20th century, the zoo is operated by Zoo New England and is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Open year round except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Central Wharf Boston, MA, 02110 Phone: 617-973-5200

Explore the Secret World of Penguins

Come to the New England Aquarium this year and learn all about those beloved birds that fly underwater—penguins! There are more than 80 birds and three different species in our colony. With their signature waddles and festive attire, it's amazing to watch them bounce around their island territories and rocket through the water of their 150,00-gallon exhibit.

But just wait until you learn their secrets. Use your adventure guide at decoding stations throughout the Aquarium to uncover the power of penguins' underwater super speed. Peek into the hidden burrows where penguins care for their young. See all the tricks they have up their feathers. You are about to become a penguinologist—one of the many allies penguins have.

2 Southwick Street Mendon, MA, 01756 Phone: 800-258-9182

Bringing the wildlife to a place near you

A highly accessible zoo, New England’s largest presents enough entertaining and enlightening animal attractions, exhibits and encounters to take your breath away. 115 species of animals both large and small await your visit and you can learn all about them at the Earth Discovery Center. There’s a 35 acre deer forest, a petting zoo, and parakeet aviary to experience on foot, or you can ride the Woodlands Express train, or the Skyfari Sky Ride to meet elk, chimpanzees, camels, alligators, zebra. and ostrich from inside or above. Don’t miss the big cats, snakes, dragons, and the always popular Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. Opening April 21 for the 2014 season with an all new prairie dog digs, two toed sloths and cheetahs there, the zoo is handicap accessible and parking is free.

One Franklin Park Road Boston, MA, 02121 Phone: 617-541-5466

A great park and a great Zoo for a truly great time

The seventy-two acre Franklin Park Zoo is located in the northeast portion of the park, Boston's largest, and the last component of the city's famed Emerald Necklace. Featured attractions are wildlife from around the world like African lion, Masai giraffe and Grevy’s zebra each in their own special exhibit such as the Kalahari Kingdom and the Giraffe Savannah. The Tropical Forest is home to western lowland gorillas, lemurs, mandrills and more. The Aussie Aviary presents a wonderful free-flight, interactive bird adventure open seasonally and home to hundreds of brightly colored budgies. Opened to the public in 1912, it is operated by Zoo New England, which also operates the Stone Zoo in Stoneham and both are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 1990. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Maria Mitchell Association Aquarium

28 Washington Street Nantucket, MA, 02554 Phone: 508-228-5387

Open: Seasonally; call for hours.

Satwater and freshwater tank exhibition and a gift shop with unique gifts for all ages. The aquarium is the starting point for marine ecology field trips led by staff members. There is an admission fee.

Capron Park Zoo

Attleboro, MA, 02703 Phone: 508-222-6202

The zoo has revitalized itself with new exhibits and animals from all over the world: African lion cubs, North American river otters, snow leopards, and creatures of the rain forests. Activities give children the chance to handle small animals, conduct daily rounds with zookeepers, and to clean exhibits and feed animals. If the day is hot, kids can take a break in the mist tent for a gentle, cooling shower.

Lupa Zoo

62 Nash Hill Road Ludlow, MA, 02051 Phone: 413-583-8370

Non-profit wildlife facility dedicated to promoting appreciation and respect for the conservation of animals and their ecosystems; while offering enjoyable, educational and family-oriented experiences in an urban recreational setting. Open April 1 through December 25; Everyday from 9:30 AM – 5 PM. Suggested donation of $5.00.