Discover 5 Amazing Zoos With the Best Hippo Exhibits

Strongest animal bite – hippopotamus Africa, Aggression, Animal, Animal Body Part, Animal Head
© iStock.com/mesut zengin

Written by Theresa Pogach

Published: October 26, 2023

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Hey, fellow wildlife enthusiasts! If you’ve got a soft spot for those lovable, water-loving giants known as hippos, you’re in for a real treat. We’ve scoured the globe to bring you five remarkable zoos that are not just about housing hippos but about creating unforgettable experiences with these incredible creatures. Grab your sun hat, binoculars, and a sense of adventure because we’re about to embark on an exciting journey to discover the best places for epic hippo encounters!

1. San Diego Zoo – San Diego, California, USA

San Diego Zoo street sign on Park Blvd w/ ivy fully grown in.

This Southern California zoo is one of the best-known in the world.

©Jim1138 / CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

San Diego Zoo is the gold standard for wildlife sanctuaries and conservation efforts. It is an animal care and welfare leader and offers a stellar opportunity to get up close and personal with hippos. Clearly, one of the highlights is the Hippo Beach, a spacious habitat that recreates the lush, tropical environment of African rivers where hippos thrive. Additionally, the star attraction here is the large underwater viewing area, allowing you to witness these semi-aquatic giants gliding gracefully through the water or basking in the sun on the sandy beach. Furthermore, it’s a riveting experience, like embarking on an African river safari, and provides fantastic photo ops.

San Diego Zoo takes its commitment to conservation seriously. Visitors can engage in educational programs that shed light on the challenges hippos face in the wild and the steps being taken to protect them. From fascinating talks to behind-the-scenes tours, you’ll leave entertained and enlightened about the magic of hippos and their vital role in our ecosystem.

In addition to the fabulous hippo exhibit, San Diego Zoo boasts an array of fascinating animal exhibits. 

You can explore everything from the Panda Canyon, where you can witness the endangered giant pandas, to the Elephant Odyssey, which offers insights into the lives of these gentle giants. Indeed, if you’re into big cats, the Tiger Trail is a must-visit, providing a glimpse into the world of Sumatran tigers. It’s a full day of adventure and learning beyond hippos.

2. Singapore Zoo – Singapore

Interesting signs to the enclosures. Pointers with animal's heads. Singapore zoo.

Hippo enthusiasts view Singapore Zoo as a must see destination.

©Konstantin Aksenov/Shutterstock.com

Singapore Zoo offers a unique approach to connecting visitors with hippos and a plethora of other animals. Renowned for its open-concept enclosures, this zoo provides an immersive experience that brings you closer to these incredible creatures. The River Wonders section is a must-visit for hippo enthusiasts, where you’ll find pygmy and Nile hippos. What clearly sets this zoo apart is the underwater viewing windows that allow you to observe hippos gliding gracefully through the water. Their vocalizations are a bonus, adding an auditory dimension to your experience that you will remember.

Singapore Zoo places a strong emphasis on education and conservation. Throughout your visit, you’ll find educational programs and activities that give you a deeper understanding of these magnificent creatures and the steps to protect their habitats in the wild. Ultimately, it’s an opportunity to witness hippos up close and contribute to their preservation.

Beyond the captivating world of hippos, Singapore Zoo offers an array of other animal exhibits that will leave you in awe. Journey through Fragile Forest to immerse yourself in a lush rainforest environment, home to free-flying birds, butterflies, and tree-dwelling mammals. The Night Safari, an adjacent attraction, allows you to explore the nocturnal world of animals in a unique nighttime setting. Plus, if you’re intrigued by the diverse flora of Southeast Asia, take the chance to explore the lush vegetation at the Botanic Gardens.

3. African Lion Safari – Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Hippos are built for the water.

Hippos are built for the water.

©iStock.com/Bonnie Nordling

African Lion Safari is not your ordinary zoo; it’s a safari adventure. This unique destination allows you to get incredibly close to hippos and an array of other wildlife. The magic happens during a drive-through safari adventure, including hippos in a spacious pond habitat. As you traverse the park, you can observe these magnificent creatures as they take refreshing dips in the water or lounge by the shore. 

In addition to the hippos, African Lion Safari offers a wealth of animal encounters. You can meet with lions, watch zebras grazing, and even see giraffes up close as they extend their necks to feed. Bird lovers will appreciate the extensive aviaries, home to various exotic species. The park also hosts engaging demonstrations and shows that provide insight into the behavior and conservation of different animals. Plus, boat tours and rides add extra excitement to your visit.

African Lion Safari’s commitment to education and conservation shines through its programs. From “Meet the Animals” sessions to special presentations on wildlife conservation, you’ll leave with a deeper appreciation for the incredible creatures you’ve encountered.

4. Prague Zoo – Prague, Czech Republic

Hippopotamus in zoo in Prague

Close-up hippo sightings are expected at the Prague Zoo.

©Evgeniy Zhukov/Shutterstock.com

Prague Zoo, nestled alongside the picturesque Vltava River, is a European gem known for its stunning landscapes and extraordinary animal conservation efforts. The zoo’s hippo exhibit is nothing short of magical. The hippos here have a spacious pond with underwater viewing areas, allowing you to witness these majestic creatures in their natural environment. The lush surroundings and well-thought-out design make it a fantastic place to appreciate the charm of hippos.

Prague Zoo’s dedication to conservation is evident in its initiatives and educational programs. They strongly focus on raising awareness about endangered species and zoos’ vital role in conservation. When you visit, you admire the hippos and become a part of their conservation efforts.

While Prague Zoo offers an enchanting hippo experience, it is also home to many captivating animal exhibits. Explore the Indonesian Jungle, a space replicating Indonesia’s lush rainforests, housing orangutans, gibbons, and other exotic species. The African savanna exhibit, Savannah, allows you to observe African elephants, giraffes, zebras, and ostriches coexisting in a shared habitat. For those who appreciate avian wonders, the “Safari” exhibit is home to exotic birds from various corners of the globe. The carefully curated displays show the zoo’s dedication to conservation and education.

5. Kruger National Park – South Africa

World's Scariest Animal: Hippopotamuses

This

hippopotamus

is in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, showing how graceful these creatures can be in the water.

©Gaston Piccinetti/Shutterstock.com

We know Kruger National Park isn’t a zoo, but it’s necessary for those seeking a wild hippo adventure. It’s the Super Bowl of wildlife experiences! Here, you’re not just viewing hippos; you’re seeing them in their untamed, unfiltered habitat. Safari tours and guided expeditions in Kruger offer a front-row seat to observe hippos in the wild, often near water sources like rivers and dams. It’s like stepping into your very own nature documentary.

With its vast wildlife, Kruger National Park is deeply committed to responsible tourism and animal conservation. While on your safari, you’ll have the opportunity to see hippos in their element, learn about their behavior, and gain a deeper appreciation for the vital role they play in the ecosystem. It’s an adventure that combines the thrill of the wild with understanding the importance of preserving natural habitats.

The park is not just about hippos; it’s a treasure trove of wildlife experiences. The Big Five, including lions, elephants, leopards, rhinoceroses, and buffaloes, roam freely, and you’ll have the chance to spot them during your safari. Birdwatchers will be in paradise, with hundreds of species of birds to observe. The diverse landscapes within the park, from savannas to riverbanks, provide an ever-changing backdrop for your safari adventure.

Summary: Hippo Havens Around the World

These five destinations offer more than just a glimpse of hippos. They provide an opportunity to connect with these incredible creatures profoundly. Whether you prefer carefully designed zoo exhibits or witnessing hippos in their true wilderness, each location offers something unique. Pack your bags, bring your camera, and prepare for an adventure filled with wonder as you experience the world of hippos like never before. These enchanting giants await your visit, ready to leave you with unforgettable memories and a deeper appreciation for the natural world.


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