10 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Minnesota

Updated On October 7, 2023

It seems that Minnesota has more zoos closed at least temporarily than in some other states.

I’m not totally sure about that, or what the reason is for all of them.

However, 10 of the best Zoos and Aquariums in Minnesota do still operate.

10 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Minnesota

Sea Life (A Mall of America Aquarium)

The Mall of America brings you Sea Life.

Featured creatures at this aquarium include Duke and Dutchess, two 14-foot-long green sawfish.

It’s the only of its kind in the entire state. 

The best view of Duke and Dutchess is in the 300-foot-long Underwater Tunnel.

You also can witness sea turtles better than you and 9-foot sand tiger sharks.

I think of this as one of the most amazing ways to experience underwater life without having to use scuba gear. 

When working your way through the Underground Tunnel, you’ll imagine what it’s like to view the underworld around you.

Okay, it may not be exactly like the point of view of an ocean creature.

It does give you an idea of what it would be to live like a sea creature though. 

One other unique feature of the Sea Life aquarium is that it also showcases freshwater fish, including sturgeon.

Moreover, this aquatic animal center features the Alligator Gar, one that is said to be the largest freshwater fish in the world. 

The freshwater exhibit is called Sturgeon Lake.

One contrast to this is the Rainbow Reef, which houses schools of tropical fish.

You also can explore the “Wild Amazon” featuring the Midas Cichlids, Arapaima, and stingrays.

Great Lakes Aquarium 

The Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, MN first opened in 2000 after more than a decade of planning.

It primarily focuses on freshwater education, featuring animals that originated from the Great Lakes Basin. 

This aquatic center doesn’t just focus on Minnesota wildlife though.

They do have a sturgeon touch pool.

However, some of their marine touch pools feature saltwater creatures from around the world. 

They like to educate people on aquatic ecosystems of all types, including those near the Amazon River.

School groups often come here for field trips and immerse themselves in workshops that demonstrate animals eating, playing, or interacting with caretakers on duty. 

Minnesota Zoo & Aquarium 

The Minnesota Zoo & Aquarium in Apply Valley has more than 4,500 land and water animals living on its property.

Meet the Bald Eagle, Baer’s Pochard (an endangered duck), African Penquin, Atlantic Reef, and Amur Tiger, for instance. 

There are so many more to see, such as the Bactrian Camel and the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog.

There are also the Black and White Colobus Monkeys and turtles, snakes, and more. 

You may have the opportunity to feed and pet some of the animals when in Discovery Bay and the estuary.

This may require advanced registration before you arrive to secure your spot. 

It may be hard to make it through the Minnesota Zoo all in one day but not entirely impossible.

Doing some virtual investigation before you arrive will help you decide what you should concentrate on when you do arrive. 

Rad Zoo

The Reptile & Amphibian Discovery Zoo is “RAD.”

The RAD Zoo is for you if you’re into lizards, salamanders, frogs and toads, snakes, or hundreds of similar species.

This zoo also has its share of turtles. 

I found out about a unique interactive program that this zoo has for young people.

The RAD Zoo brings its animals to birthday parties, schools and daycares, fairs, and church or scout events. 

Children have a chance to safely pet snakes and other animals while supervised by staff at the hosted special events.

I haven’t told you this yet, but they also have alligators, crocodiles, and Caiman (Crocodilian animals). 

Not much information is found on this zoo’s website yet as of January 2023.

However, I know from experience that crocodilian creatures are usually for viewing and not touching.

The RAD Zoo is located in Medford, MN. 


SeaQuest has multiple locations across the U.S. One of them is in Roseville, MN.

At SeaQuest Roseville, you can participate in 20,000 square feet of fun. 

SeaQuest allows you to feed, touch, and mingle with select animals.

This Roseville center does more than just house the 1,500 species they serve.

They also plan, prepare and serve meals according to each creature’s dietary needs. 

Animal healthcare is provided onsite too.

Veterinarians keep tabs on each creature’s condition and provide them with the care they need if suffering.

SeaQuest also provides clean and safe habitats that they clean and maintain regularly. 

SeaQuest is another zoo besides the RAD Zoo that brings animals to events, such as birthday parties.

In addition, they reach out to the community to teach the public about nature and wildlife conservation, and they host field trips for school groups or any interested parties. 

Lake Superior Zoo

The Lake Superior Zoo located in Duluth, Minnesota, spans over 19 acres.

Nearby scenery includes Kingsbury Creek, forest pines, and rocky hills. 

I would say that this zoo, which houses more than 300 animals representing over 140 species, has it all.

Along with the animals, you can enjoy the Lake Superior Zoo for its plenteous green space. 

Creatures living at the Lake Superior Zoo include brown bears, river otters, bats, tigers, monkeys, birds, and more.  

The Lake Superior Zoo teaches an appreciation of wildlife and nature.

Along with that, the staff dedicates itself to educating the public on the importance of conservation. 

This MN Zoo also encourages the bond between humans and animals.

This all happens through its year-round programming, which reaches out to school groups. 

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory (Tropical Encounters)

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory in Saint Paul, Minnesota dedicates itself to connecting people with wildlife and nature.

They don’t charge for admission but donations are always appreciated. 

As of 2022, more than 1,700 animals reside at the Zoo & Conservatory in ecosystems as close to their natural habitat as possible.

Some animals that live here include the cougar, bison, gray seal, Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin, and Green Anaconda. 

The conservatory also features gardens with bonsai trees, ferns, a lily pond, orchids, palms, and more.

You can explore both botanical and animal life here.

I think it’s nice that they allow you to contribute financially according to your budget for admission too. 

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo has at least 30 wild animal species living on its grounds.

Some of the creatures stay here permanently because of disabling injuries.

Others have come from other zoos to alleviate animal overcrowding. 

Some animals found here include the white-tailed deer, bobcat, bison, wolf, and cougar.

Activities besides animal viewing include picnicking, fishing, camping, and hiking.

There are also children’s playground areas, so it’s family-friendly. 

Pine Grove Zoo

As of 2023, Pine Grove Zoo will open on April 13.

I don’t know if that’s when they open every year, but they do provide educational programs for people of all ages. 

One unique activity they host is animal training demos.

That usually takes place every weekend.

They also have animal encounters, where you can experience closer interactions with pettable creatures upon request. 

Animals that have lived in the Pine Grove zoo include the peafowl, goat, squirrel, porcupine, elk, and woodchucks.

This wildlife center first opened in the early 1900s, and it started to expand after 1913. 

Sustainable Safari 

The Sustainable Safari in Maplewood, MN features three different types of Animal Encounters.

I never heard of being able to hold animals at a zoo before.

This MN zoo takes the wildlife experience to the next level. 

This animal center also provides unique experiences with animal themes.

For instance, you can take the Capybara Porcupine Experience, or spend time with birds at the Tree House.

There’s also a Guinea Pig Village. 

Animals that you could feed include the Anteater and Binturong.

I’ve never even seen these animals, let alone came within two inches of them.

You also feed some Lemur here if you want to. 

The Sustainable Safari also hosts wildlife shows.

This program lasts about 45 minutes and takes place offsite at daycares, schools, businesses, and more. 

10 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Minnesota – Summary Table

Zoos & AquariumsAddress
Sea Life (A Mall of America Aquarium)Level One, Mall of America, 120 East Broadway East Side, Bloomington, MN 55425, United States
Great Lakes Aquarium 353 Harbor Dr #100, Duluth, MN 55802, USA
Minnesota Zoo & Aquarium 13000 Zoo Blvd, Apple Valley, MN 55124, USA
Rad Zoo6750 Frontage Rd W, Medford, MN 55049, USA
SeaQuest 1595 Highway 36 West, Suite 578, Roseville, MN 55113, USA
Lake Superior Zoo7210 Fremont St, Duluth, MN 55807, USA
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory1225 Estabrook Dr, St Paul, MN 55103, USA
Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo5731 County Rd 105 NW, Byron, MN 55920, USA
Pine Grove Zoo1200 Broadway W, Little Falls, MN 56345, United States
Sustainable Safari 3001 White Bear Ave #2001, Maplewood, MN 55109, USA

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Frequently Asked Questions

What time do Minnesota zoos open?

It depends.

Some are by appointment only with advance ticket purchases.

Other ones open their doors as early as 8 a.m.

Some of them only stay open during usual business hours, but others try to accommodate evening visitors.

Why are so many MN zoos closed?

Some zoos may not have recovered from the financial losses they experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Otherwise, they perhaps didn’t have enough staff to run the place after the quarantines from 2020-2021 ended.

Some zoos may only open their doors to the public in the spring and summer.

That’s the case with the Pine Grove Zoo, for example.

What days is the Minnesota Zoo open?

As of January 2023, I am sure it’s still open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Some exhibits may require purchasing tickets in advance before showing up in person.

Will the Minnesota Zoo close for good?

I don’t know the answer to that.

It could, and the last I heard in 2020 it needed some financial relief to stay open.

I haven’t seen any updates about whether it would close or not, and it doesn’t say on its website that it closed.

How do I know if a zoo is still open?

Google Maps may tell you it’s temporarily closed on the listing.

However, you may want to contact the zoo by email, social media, or phone to find out for sure, and find out why it’s now closed.

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