Make Tracks to See the Animals
Visit Minnesota’s zoos, aquariums, and animal centers to see species from the region and around the world. Here are just a few destinations among many:
International Wolf Center, Ely
In an area with one of the largest wolf populations in the U.S., Ely’s International Wolf Center presents an award-winning wolf exhibit and Aidan and Denali, gray wolves living on display at the center. Center visitors can watch the wolves hunting, playing, and sleeping, from a large indoor area that looks out onto their wooded habitat. Programs spotlight wolf feeding and communication, giving visitors a chance to howl with the wolves. The exhibit “Wolves and Humans” shows wolf behavior and lore and threats to the wolf’s survival. A children’s exhibit replicates the den of a pup named Little Wolf and tells the story of his first year of development. The International Wolf Center is open Fridays and Saturdays through May 14, and daily from May 15-August 14.
RAD Zoo, Owatonna
The Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Zoo (or RAD Zoo) in Owatonna has a fascinating collection of animals from around the world. Minnesota turtles, snakes, and lizards are featured. Non-native animals include sticky-toed geckos, red-eyed tree frogs, parrots, a giant alligator, boa constrictors, and more. A new exhibit, “Danger Zone,” features six-foot Nile crocodiles and several types of caiman, poison dart frogs, a small bamboo shark, moray eel, and pythons. Saturday and Sunday animal feedings are popular. The RAD Zoo is in southern Minnesota, about an hour south of the Twin Cities. It is open daily except for holidays and is closed December 20-26.
Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth
Great Lakes Aquarium is located on the waterfront of the largest freshwater lake in the world. Exhibits feature fish, otters, turtles, birds, and other freshwater creatures from the Great Lakes area in displays that mimic native habitats such as the North Shore’s Baptism River. Another display features piranhas, frogs, and brightly colored macaws from the Amazon River, the largest river system and an important freshwater ecosystem. Special exhibits like “Masters of Disguise” and “Aquatic Invaders” show how freshwater creatures adapt, mimic, and relocate in ways that are sometimes harmful. The Great Lakes Aquarium is open every day. Combination tickets offer admission to the Aquarium and the nearby Lake Superior Zoo.
Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley
The Minnesota Zoo is the largest zoo in the state, with 500 acres featuring diverse animals in indoor and outdoor habitats. The Northern Trail features caribou, the large Amur Tiger, gazelles, and other winter-hardy animals accustomed to this climate. The Minnesota Trail showcases our regional animals such as birds, otters, snakes, lynx, and coyotes. Russia’s Grizzly Coast is a habitat with bears, leopards and boars. The Tropics Trail heats up with lush rain forest foliage and animals including toucans, monkeys, lemurs, pandas, kangaroos, and more.
The zoo’s aquatic displays are a highlight, with creatures ranging from tiny pygmy seahorses to 10-foot sand tiger sharks. Discover Bay and the Tropics Trail offer spectacular underwater views of ocean and reef-dwellers like sharks, eels, sea turtles, sea dragons, and tropical fish. African penguin feedings and shark feedings are just a few of the zoo’s programs. The Minnesota Zoo is open daily.
Como Zoo, St. Paul
To see more amazing fauna and flora in the Twin Cities, check out the Como Zoo & Marjorie NcNeely Conservatory in St. Paul.