9 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Wisconsin

Updated On October 7, 2023

While you may only think about cheese and beer when you hear Wisconsin, there are other great areas to explore throughout the state, including a variety of zoos and aquariums.

Throughout the year, you can find access to many different types of animals living in the water or from different parts of the world in these zoos.

They offer numerous types of events and activities to keep you entertained during your visit. 

Best Zoos & Aquariums in Wisconsin

Whether you want to head out for a day trip or look for a specific animal species, there is something for everyone at the aquariums and zoos listed below. 

1. Wildwood Wildlife Park & Nature Center

Opening in 1997, Wildwood Wildlife Park & Nature Center has been one of the most visited zoos in the state.

It started as a rescue, with the owners taking care of wildlife who wandered up to the property needing help.

Over the years, the public has been welcomed to come to enjoy the animals on site and take part in being conservationists for local wildlife.

In addition to having animals that are native to Wisconsin in the zoo, there are also exotic animals like Giraffes, Emus, and other animals reside.

Visitors can take advantage of a Safari Tram ride where you can experience the animals up close.

Kids can enjoy the paddle boat adventures and kiddie train rides that are full of fun.

On your way out of the zoo, make sure you visit the education center and the gift shop to remember your experience. 

2. NEW Zoo & Adventure Park

If you are looking to spend a morning or afternoon out on an adventure, then you should make sure to stop by the NEW Zoo & Adventure Park that combines a local community and adventure in one location.

There is a summer zoo camp available for kids in the area to enjoy, as well as different programs that help them get involved throughout the year.

If you want a bird’s eye view of the park, make sure to take the canopy tour as you travel from the zoo to the adventure park.

Once you reach the adventure park, you can rent equipment so that you have lots of fun while being safe out on the zipline.

In the warmer months when the trails are open, you can rent a bike to navigate the park. 

3. Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue

If you have a preference for big cats and want to experience the different cats of the world, then Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue is a stop you need to make on your next trip.

Since 2005, this zoo has offered a safe haven for many of these animals who were captured and later rescued.

Because they spent so much time in captivity, they are not able to be released in the wild.

Throughout the Spring, Summer, and Fall months, you are able to enjoy a tour of the different animals, just make sure you call and schedule your appointment for the tour ahead of time.

There are cabins on the property where you can spend the night and enjoy more time with the cats at the rescue. 

4. Wisconsin Deer Park

Located in Wisconsin Dells is Wisconsin Deer Park which is family-friendly and accessible to all members of your family.

During this experience, you are able to meet and interact with over 10 different deer species on the property and learn about how different they all are from educated staff members.

The park is large, with over 40 acres to explore.

In addition to deer, you will find other friendly animals such as horses, llamas, and lemurs on the property.

Depending on the time of year you visit the park, you will get to see the deer go through different changes acclimating to the weather and the mating seasons.

The only time the park is closed is in the deep part of winter when the animals are not out and the park undergoes annual maintenance to prepare for the upcoming season.

It is important that if you plan to feed the animals on the property you use the food that is provided and not your own.

5. Great Lakes Aquarium

If you’ve ever wondered about the animals that live in the Great Lakes and out in the ocean, then you should visit the Great Lakes Aquarium for a full experience of fun and education.

There are two-floor levels that have everything from shipwrecks to a touch pool for guests to enjoy.

With several hundred exhibits to explore, you can expect to be at the aquarium for several hours, so plan your trip accordingly.

The park is open every day, but you want to get to there with enough time to enjoy the shows, feeds, and exhibits for a full experience.

This aquarium sees thousands of visitors annually and they can take advantage of the resources available for celebrations and birthday parties. 

6. Henry Vilas Zoo

While it is small in size compared to other zoos in Wisconsin, this AZA-accredited location offers a variety of animals to experience on your trip.

They are diversified and range from the polar bear to the African lion, giving you a true variety of wildlife from around the world.

These animals represent five of the seven continents and are kept in large enclosures that mimic the environment they need to survive.

Many of these animals are protected and are essential in maintaining their species.

Schools have the ability to secure the zoo for different events and experiences so that their students can take advantage of the programs available.

Some of these experiences must be reserved and are available after regular business hours.

When school is out, the zoo is in, offering different camps for children of all ages throughout the year. 

7. Milwaukee County Zoo

Another large zoo in Wisconsin that sees thousands of visitors is the Milwaukee County Zoo.

You can log on to the website at any time and view live cams of your favorite animals and keep up with them between visits.

When you visit the zoo, make sure to take the train ride around the zoo and other carnival rides to keep your smaller members entertained when they need a break from walking.

Because this zoo is one of the larger ones, you should expect to spend several hours a day at this park.

Don’t worry, though.

You will have lots of resources for food, shopping and even resting as needed.

If you have a large group you want to bring in for the experience, make sure you call ahead and secure the appropriate rental spaces. 

8. Timbavati Wildlife Park

When you drive up to the Timbavati Wildlife Park, what you will find looks a bit different from other parts of Wisconsin.

The wildlife, trees, and ecosystems look similar to other continents, making you feel as though you are somewhere else.

One of the biggest attractions at this park is the Red Pandas, Rhinosoarus’ and other large animals that most visitors only read about or see on television.

Nearly 75 different species are represented in this large park and are great for large groups who want to have their own experience with a tour guide.

There is a Safari train ride available for guests to enjoy and lots of easy-to-navigate trails that give you access to the animals.  

If you are looking to book the red panda experience, you can expect photos and feed these animals.

There are also sloth encounters available where you can interact with some of the slowest animals on the planet. 

9. Ochsner Zoo

One of the smaller zoos on the list, Ochsner Zoo is a great place to stop if you only have a small window of time but want to get out and enjoy the animals.

It is only 26 acres, but it has been around for nearly a century in Wisconsin, making it one of the oldest.

With almost 40,000 visitors coming to the park regularly, the rehabilitated wildlife that calls this zoo home has great resources in large part to donations since there are no ticket sales.

The zoo houses a variety of different programs each year and even offers enrichment programs to help the community give back to wildlife that is native to the area and some of the more exotic that are being housed on the property. 

9 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Wisconsin – Summary Table

Zoos & AquariumsAddress
Wildwood Wildlife Park & Nature Center10094 WI-70, Minocqua, WI 54548, United States
NEW Zoo & Adventure Park4378 Reforestation Rd, Green Bay, WI 54313, USA
Wisconsin Big Cat Rescue305 Pine St, Rock Springs, WI 53961, USA
Wisconsin Deer Park2183 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, USA
Great Lakes Aquarium353 Harbor Dr #100, Duluth, MN 55802, USA
Henry Vilas Zoo702 S Randall Ave, Madison, WI 53715, USA
Milwaukee County Zoo10001 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA
Timbavati Wildlife Park2220 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, USA
Oschner Zoo903 Park St, Baraboo, WI 53913, USA

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Frequently Asked Questions

How many zoos and aquariums are located in the state?

Currently, there are over a dozen zoos and even fewer aquariums available throughout Wisconsin.

Because of the large land property and less access to ocean water, it seems as though zoos have a better chance of survival and growth throughout the state.

Do all zoos now have extra experiences to keep visitors entertained and on the property?

If you are planning to visit some of the larger zoos and aquariums in Wisconsin, you can plan on having access to more hands-on experiences and adventures as they are growing in popularity in the state and country.

Are any of the zoos or aquariums in Wisconsin free?

Yes, actually, the Ochsner Zoo does offer free admission to visitors and is supported by donations.

If you would like to leave a donation, make sure you stop a staff member before you leave or visit them online for more information.

Are the zoos and aquariums open in the winter?

If you are planning a visit during the winter to one of the zoos or aquariums, make sure you give them a call first to see if they will be open.

1 Comment on 9 Best Zoos & Aquariums in Wisconsin

  1. Wisconsin may be known for its cheese and beer, but there are also some amazing zoos and aquariums to explore.

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