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Sea Lion Sound voted “Best Zoo Exhibit”

The Saint Louis Zoo was chosen for the second year in a row as the top winner in the “Best Zoo” category of the 10Best Readers' Choice Awards contest sponsored by USA TODAY. Sea Lion Sound also won “Best Zoo Exhibit” in a separate poll. The Zoo and Sea Lion Sound were among 20 nominated U.S. zoos and zoo exhibits, all accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and hand-picked by a panel of zoo and family travel experts. 

Visitors to were asked to vote for their favorite U.S. zoo and zoo exhibit from April 2 to April 30. The results of the top 10 in each category were announced today on 

“We’re humbled to be chosen again as the Best Zoo by our dedicated fans in the St. Louis region, across Missouri and friends around the country,” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President and CEO, Saint Louis Zoo. “Our visitors, volunteers, members, generous donors, employees, and especially the taxpayers of St. Louis City and St. Louis County are the real champions. It’s through their strong support that we can provide superior care for the animals, save wildlife in wild places, connect people with nature, and offer a great place to spend time with friends and family members.” 

The top 10 Best Zoos list includes: 

1. Saint Louis Zoo 

2. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium 

3. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 

4. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo 

5. Fort Worth Zoo 

6. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum 

7. Dallas Zoo 

8. Audubon Zoo 

9. Zoo Miami 

10. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens 


The top 10 Best Zoo Exhibits list includes: 

1. Sea Lion Sound (Saint Louis Zoo) 

2. African Grasslands (Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium) 

3. Museum of Living Art (Fort Worth Zoo) 

4. Polk Penguin Conservation Center (Detroit Zoo) 

5. Simmons Hippo Outpost (Dallas Zoo) 

6. Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center (Indianapolis Zoo) 

7. Meerkat Maze (Philadelphia Zoo) 

8. Arctic Passage (Henry Vilas Zoo) 

9. Predator Ridge (Denver Zoo) 

10. Gibbon Trails and Langur Landing (Zoo Knoxville) 

On its website, offered these descriptions of the Zoo and Sea Lion Sound: Situated within the nation’s largest urban park, the free-to-the-public Saint Louis Zoo features a stunning diversity of animals — more than 600 species in total. The zoo is divided into six zones, including Lakeside Crossing where the award-winning Sea Lion Sound combines a stellar exhibit experience with educational presentations and shows. Centene Grizzly Ridge, new to the zoo in fall of 2017, expanded the original bear grotto to twice its original size. 

The 1.5-acre Sea Lion Sound at the Saint Louis Zoo is about as close as you can come to swimming with sea lions without actually jumping in the water. At the heart of the exhibit, home to nine California sea lions and three harbor seals, is a 35-foot-long underwater viewing tunnel where visitors can see the marine mammals swimming around them. The exhibit's 881-seat amphitheater hosts the First Bank Sea Lion Show where the sea lions show off their amazing abilities. 

About Saint Louis Zoo 

Chosen as America’s top free attraction and best zoo in USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, the Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal care and management, wildlife conservation, research and education. One of the few free zoos in the nation, the Zoo attracts more than 3,000,000 visitors a year. For more information, visit,,,, Snapchat (saintlouiszoo), and 

The experts behind the “Best Zoos”: Debra Erickson is the president elect for the International Zoo Educators Association and has been in the conservation, interpretation, marketing, communications and education fields for 30 years. Kyle McCarthy is co-founder and editor of Family Travel Forum, the online travel community trusted by family vacation planners since 1996. Mommy Nearest is an award-winning, tech-enabled media company for millennial parents. The company is the most trusted and widely-used geo-based app for discovering family-friendly places nationwide. Eileen Ogintz is a leading national expert on family travel, author of the syndicated column and website “Taking the Kids” and the 10-book “Kid’s Guide” series. Alan Sironen is the owner of Zoo Consultants International, which assists clients in animal exhibit planning and more.