Discover The 5 Best Zoos In Connecticut To Visit (And 2 To Potentially Skip)

Written by Heather Hall
Updated: June 19, 2023
© Noroton / Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – License / Original
Share this post on:


A zoo is a facility that houses and displays animals for the public to view. It may be either for-profit or non-profit. Fifty-four percent of zoos in the United States are non-profit. A for-profit zoo focuses on making money, while a non-profit emphasizes more on animal welfare. Non-profit zoos have a mission of education and conservation. Non-profit zoos often participate in research projects to protect endangered species or develop new ways to promote worldwide wildlife conservation efforts. Here is a list of the best zoos in Connecticut.

Zoos are beneficial to animals and the ecosystem in a variety of ways. By providing safe, comfortable habitats for animals, they can ensure that species have an opportunity to live healthy lives. Furthermore, zoos promote education about conservation and biodiversity by offering visitors hands-on experiences with wildlife. This helps create an appreciation for nature and encourages people to take action toward protecting endangered species or habitats. Additionally, many zoos provide financial support for research projects focused on wildlife protection and preservation. Zoo efforts like this can help further conservation efforts around the world.

Beardsley Zoo

Beardsley Zoo entrance
The Beardsley Zoo is located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and is the only zoo in the state.

©Sage Ross / CC BY SA-3.0 – License

The Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, CT, is a great place to visit with your family and friends. It is Connecticut’s only zoo, and it houses over 300 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates worldwide. The main attractions are the Amur tiger, leopard, maned wolf, Mexican gray wolf, and red wolf. There are also spider monkeys, prairie dogs, and giant anteaters. Other features include educational exhibits about conservation efforts to protect endangered species and interactive experiences with some animals. Additionally, there is a seasonal carousel ride for kids to enjoy. In addition, the Beardsley Zoo also offers the Peacock Cafe and the Picnic Grove for dining. This zoo is accredited and certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, assuring that the zoo has the highest standards for animal welfare and care.

The best time to visit Beardsley Zoo would depend on various factors, such as the weather, crowd size, and exhibit availability. Generally speaking, spring and fall offer milder temperatures and smaller crowds, making for an enjoyable experience. Summer is also a great time to visit, but visitors should expect higher temperatures, more people, and potentially long lines for popular attractions. Winter months can be quite beautiful, and the animals are more active in cold weather.

Maritime Aquarium

Entrance to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is located in Norwalk, Connecticut, and features more than 177,000 gallons of water.

©Noroton / Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – License

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is a non-profit educational organization located in Southwestern Connecticut. It specializes in marine life and its conservation. It is home to numerous species of sharks, seals, sea turtles, jellyfish, and other aquatic creatures, as well as many interactive exhibits that allow visitors to explore the ocean environment. The aquarium also offers 4D movies, touch tanks, and a variety of public cruises. The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk provides a great way to learn more about marine life while having fun! This zoo is accredited and certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, assuring that the zoo cares well for its animals.

Since all of the exhibits are indoors, the Maritime Aquarium in Connecticut is a great place to visit year round!

Mystic Aquarium

Penguin feeding session at the mystic aquarium
The Mystic Aquarium is a thrilling aquarium and one of the best zoos in Connecticut.

©Grondemar / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut, is a fun and educational experience for all ages. Here you can observe more than 6,000 marine animals representing 600 species from around the world, including penguins, seals, beluga whales, sea turtles, and sharks. You’ll also find interactive exhibits such as touch pools where you can get up close with some of the inhabitants of the aquarium. There are even live shows every day featuring dolphins and other animals to entertain visitors while they learn about ocean wildlife. Additionally, Mystic Aquarium offers educational programs that teach children about animal conservation and ocean ecology; these programs range from camps to field trips designed to promote curiosity and interest in our aquatic environment. This zoo is accredited and certified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, assuring that the zoo has the highest standards for animal welfare and care.

Visiting Mystic Aquarium is best during the warmer months of April to October. While crowds can be a bit larger, you won’t have to worry about bad weather. The aquarium offers plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to keep everyone entertained while exploring the exhibits. If you’re looking for a more intimate experience, visit on weekdays rather than weekends when it tends to be busier.

Action Wildlife

Action Wildlife Foundation in Torrington, Connecticut
Action Wildlife Foundation is a nonprofit animal rescue in Torrington, Connecticut.

©Carol M. Highsmith / Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – License

Action Wildlife Foundation in Goshen, CT, is a private non-profit animal sanctuary that houses many endangered species. It was founded in 1976 by the late conservationist John A. Garcia and his wife Alisa, who wanted to provide a safe haven for exotic animals while educating the public on animal welfare issues. The sanctuary has over 160 acres of natural habitat for its resident animals, including giraffes, zebras, bison, elk, birds of prey, and more. Visitors can take part in guided tours around the property or join special programs such as photography classes or educational workshops. Action Wildlife also offers activities like hayrides and paintball games during certain times of the year, which are great fun for families with children!

An ideal time to visit a zoo in Connecticut would depend on the weather, crowd size, and other factors. Generally speaking, spring or fall are both good times to go as the temperatures tend to be milder, and crowds usually aren’t too large. However, visiting during weekdays will likely provide a better experience than weekends if you’re looking for fewer people. Additionally, animals are more lively and entertaining in cool winter and tend to sleep most of the day in the summer heat. 

Sharon Audubon Center

Osprays and other creatures make their home at the Sharon Audubon Center in Sharon, Connecticut.


The Sharon Audubon Center in Sharon, Connecticut, is a great place to visit for people of all ages who are interested in nature and wildlife. It is home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and other creatures that inhabit the area. The center also offers educational activities such as bird-watching classes, hikes through the surrounding forests and wetlands, animal tracking workshops, and more.

Visitors can explore the trails on foot or take a guided tour with an experienced naturalist to learn about local flora and fauna. There are also plenty of opportunities for photography enthusiasts as well! In addition to these activities, there are seasonal events throughout the year, like campfire talks about various topics related to nature conservation or night-time “owl prowls,” which offer visitors some unique experiences they wouldn’t get anywhere else. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or want somewhere interesting to explore while visiting Connecticut, add the Sharon Audobon Center to your list! The National Audubon Society is a not-for-profit organization.

The best time to visit the Sharon Audobon Center would be in spring or fall when the weather is mild, and crowds are smaller. During these seasons, you can enjoy all the wildlife inhabiting the center without being too hot or competing with many other visitors for space.

Silverman’s Farm

Best farm animals
Silverman’s Farm offers limited visitor experiences and only has farm animals.

© Designs

Silverman’s Farm in Easton, Connecticut, is not recommended as a good zoo to visit due to its limited animal selection. While Silverman’s Farm has some farm animals, such as goats, sheep, and pigs, they don’t have any exotic or wild animals typically seen at zoos. Additionally, the enclosures for the animals do not provide enough space to roam freely and experience natural behaviors. Furthermore, Silverman’s Farm offers limited educational value since visitors cannot learn about different species of animals like they can at other zoos. Silverman’s Farm does not make for an ideal zoo-visiting experience since it lacks the variety and educational opportunities that many other zoos offer.

SeaQuest Trumbull

Yellowfin horse mackerel
SeaQuest Trumbull isn’t recommended as one of the best zoos in Connecticut.


SeaQuest Trumbull in Trumbull, Connecticut, is not recommended as a zoo to visit for several reasons. First and foremost, many members of the public have reported being unhappy with their experience at SeaQuest due to its small size and lack of variety when compared to other zoos in the area. Additionally, there have been numerous reports of animals living in unsuitable conditions or being mistreated by staff members. Finally, patrons have also complained about high prices for admission and low-quality food available onsite. All these factors make it difficult to recommend SeaQuest Trumbull as a destination for those looking for an enjoyable day.

Summary Of The 5 Best Zoos In Connecticut To Visit (And 2 To Potentially Skip)

1Beardsley ZooBridgeport
2Maritime AquariumNorwalk
3Mystic AquariumMystic
4Action WildlifeGoshen
5Sharon Audobon SocietySharon
Perhaps Skip These Zoos
1Silverman’s FarmEaston
2SeaQuest TrumbullTrumbull

Share this post on:
About the Author

I am a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am surrounded by nature. When I go for my daily runs I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I am owned by two dogs who take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.