9 Best Zoos and Aquariums in New Mexico

Updated On October 7, 2023

Because of New Mexico’s dry climate, I think it provides opportunities for zoo viewing you can’t get in wetter states.

I don’t think it does well for aquariums though.

Unless they’re human-constructed and climate-controlled, you won’t see them. 

9 Best Zoos & Aquariums in New Mexico 

1. ABQ BioPark (a.k.a. The Rio Grande Zoo)

The ABQ BioPark first opened in 1927 as the Rio Grand Zoo.

It expanded into a 64-acre attraction with about 200 different species of animals. 

The ABQ BioPark houses large cats, including lions, bobcats, jaguars, and cheetahs from all over the world.

Other animals on the premises include the chimpanzee, orangutan, hippo, grey Wolf, and Polar Bear.

You might also see kangaroos, alligators, anaconda snakes, dart frogs, and more. 

I say it wins for having one of the most diverse “collections” of animals in the state.

One of the events I’d want to participate in is the Komodo walks, featuring a reptile led by a zookeeper as you take an educational stroll.

It’s as if you’re walking a dog, but the animal doesn’t have any fur. 

If you need to sit down and take a break, you could ride the carousel.

That’s an attraction where your children could also get some rest after walking for hours. 

2. Hillcrest Park Zoo

Hillcrest Park Zoo was first opened to the public in the 1930s.

The City of Clovis website describes it as the second largest zoo in NM.  

This family-friendly Clovis, NM zoo animal area spans about 27 acres.

It houses bear cubs, javelinas, bison, and bobcats.

Other animals residing here include Zebras, black bears, spotted hyenas, spider monkeys, alligators, and more. 

The Hillcrest Park Zoo seems to welcome families, and it has enough space for them.

There’s a 140-acre playground area next to the zoo. 

I’m sure you can find a spot to have a picnic in designated areas on a calm, warm day.

The playground area also has a splash park for cooling off, a basketball court, a garden and dog park, and other amenities. 

3. Wildlife West Nature Park

In 2023, some of the Wildlife West Nature Park rescued animals include a red fox named Foxie and a pronghorn named Thunder.

It has 20 species of animals in total, including the elk and antelope, bald eagle, Black Bear, and owl. 

I feel fascinated by how long the antlers of some of their horned animals are.

Other people might enjoy birds more than me though, and there are plenty of them to watch. 

I discovered that they allow you to rent Wildlife West Park for weddings, receptions, and birthday parties.

Educational lectures and corporations even hold meetings and workshops here.

You can find Wildlife West off Route 66 near Albuquerque, Madrid, and Santa Fe.

There are RV and bus parking lots here, so it’s an excellent spot for travelers to spend time.

It first opened in the 1990s. 

4. Living Desert State Park (Formerly Living Desert Zoo)

The Living Desert State Park used to operate as the Living Desert Zoo before 1971.

It has about 40 types of animals and plants. It features wildlife like what you would see in the Chihuahuan Desert. 

You can enjoy one of the interactive programs to learn about golden eagles, roadrunners, songbirds, and more.

You may also see some bobcats, deer, elk, cougars, prairie dogs, and others. 

It shocked me that it has 14 different snake species.

I would never touch that animal, but looking at them from afar can exhilarate me. 

The Living Desert Park also has a 1.3-mile walking trail.

In addition to animals, you’ll have a chance to experience sand dunes, pine and juniper forests, and arroyos. 

By the way, I had no idea what an “arroyo” is.

It’s a creek or stream that has dried up and then periodically fills in with rainwater and often occurs in deserts.

I’m always fascinated by land formations I haven’t seen yet.

That – along with enough variety of animals – would make the Living Desert State Park interesting enough to see at least once. 

5. Alameda Park Zoo

The Alameda Park Zoo apparently became the first zoo to open in New Mexico.

This Alamogordo zoo began in 1898. One of its featured programs focuses on providing a survival plan for the Mexican wolf. 

This family-friendly zoo also provides a home to more than 200 animals.

They include about 90 different species total on 12 acres of space. 

I couldn’t find much information on the zoo website describing the animals present in 2023.

I am relying on pictures people took of the place posted on Google Maps for that information. 

You may see a camel, ducks, and what appear to be llamas at the Alameda Park Zoo.

I also see an owl, a bright green tropical bird (parrot maybe), and what appeared to be female deer. 

6. Spring River Zoo

The Spring River Zoo is located in Roswell, New Mexico.

I couldn’t find out when it first opened, but the Zoo Review says it has about 34 acres of land. 

I failed to find a confirmed estimate of how many animals total too.

I only saw one instance online where it says about 100. 

Creatures featured in five different categories of attractions include black bears, mountain lions, wallabies, bald eagles, and deer or antelopes.

I enjoyed reading some of the Facebook posts about these or other animals they have. 

For instance, the zoo led a turtle back to the river.

Zookeepers also acclimated Charlotte, a female pig, into the same living quarters with Kevin, the male pig.

I would feel comfortable taking a group of children here.

Adult tour groups and veterinarians or zoology students would probably love it too.  

7. Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary

As of 2023, the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary stays closed in January and February.

I bet some wolf lovers out there can’t wait until it opens in March.

Right now, they have 68 canids (wild canines) that live on the ground permanently. 

I love most types of dogs, so I think I would enjoy visiting the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary.

It would even be worth listening to all that howling just to see so many different species.

Some I don’t think I’ve ever seen before at any animal facility. 

This wolf sanctuary takes in both wolves and wolfdogs.

Most of them look just like the kinds of animals people would have as pets.

However, they’re probably more aggressive than the average domesticated dog. 

I think they’re some of the most beautiful creatures in the world.

They do have a sponsor program, where you can contribute financially to manage their rescue and care. 

I haven’t seen any information on the Wolf Sanctuary website that says you can pet them.

I am assuming only if they’re more mild-mannered breeds and if staff is present.

They do at least have different levels of tours you can partake in, some of which bring you closer to the animals. 

More ABQ BioPark Animal Facilities

I don’t know of any other popular NM aquariums in the state.

So far, the best one I found would be the one that’s a part of the ABQ BioPark group of animal facilities.

Another facility I found more fascinating than the aquarium is the “Bugarium.” 

8. The ABQ BioPark Aquarium

For an aquarium listed in a desert state, I’m impressed.

The ABQ BioPark Aquarium has plenty of species of aquatic animals to view.

Some include sea turtles, corals, rays, angel fish, and giant clams. 

You also can view your share of jellies, which often look like they’re dancing underwater.

One of my favorite of all saltwater animals, however, is tropical fish. 

I just saw a photo of a neon-yellow-colored Queen Angelfish with bright blue and pink-orange overtones.

I’d like to see that up close. 

I also just saw pictures of both Sandbar and Sand Tiger Sharks, and many more creatures.

I’m not saying I would travel more than 1,300 miles from my state (Wisconsin) just to see this.

It may be a place I’d put on my itinerary if I happen to be in the area though. 

9. The ABQ BioPark Bugarium

I said I wouldn’t travel more than a thousand miles to see the aquarium.

That’s because I probably can find similar near me either in my state or in Minnesota, so I wouldn’t bother.

However, I would travel for the ABQ Bugarium. 

Of course, I admit to probably making plans for the aquarium too, but only because I’d also be going to the ABQ BioPark Bugarium.

I don’t know many “zoos” dedicating themselves to just the study of bugs. 

I’m often fascinated by spiders, bees, scorpions, ants, and other kinds of tiny critters.

Many of these as well as butterflies are featured at the ABQ Bugarium.

I’d be curious to find out if they have any crickets or beetles, just because – no reason. 

9 Best Zoos and Aquariums in New Mexico – Summary Table

Zoos and AquariumsAddress
ABQ BioPark899 12th St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102, United States
Hillcrest Park Zoo1208 N Norris St, Clovis, NM 88101, USA
Wildlife West Nature Park87 N Frontage Rd, Edgewood, NM 87015, USA
Living Desert State Park1504 Skyline Rd, Carlsbad, NM 88220, USA
Alameda Park Zoo1021 N White Sands Blvd, Alamogordo, NM 88310, USA
Spring River Zoo1306 E College Blvd, Roswell, NM 88201, USA
Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary378 Candy Kitchen Rd, Ramah, NM 87321, USA
The ABQ BioPark Aquarium 2601 Central Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, USA
The ABQ BioPark Bugarium2601 Central Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104, USA

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Frequently Asked Questions

What can you see at New Mexico Zoos?

Some of the New Mexico zoos feature animals found in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Incidentally, this desert has one of the most diverse selections of plants and animals in the U.S.

Come to think of it, I could have included the Chihuahuan Desert on my list of Zoos and Aquariums in NM.

It even has some bodies of water that I think look like ponds.

For that reason, you might see displays of waterfowl and fish exhibits like it at NM Zoos.

Does New Mexico have saltwater animals?

With the scarcity of water in NM, it’s not likely to have many water species, whether salt or otherwise.

If there are any, it’s likely they’ve been imported and held in climate-controlled facilities built to contain them.

NM does have lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands though.

However, they’re scarce.

That’s where most of the animals live, not out in the open air and scorching heat.

Does NM have more land or water animals?

Considering the state has the least amount of surface water in it than all other states, I would say NM has more land animals.

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