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Child Magazine Announces Results of Exclusive Survey: 10 Best Zoos for Kids

Zoos have given millions of children the chance to see elephants, giraffes, bears, and other animals in person. But the most family-friendly ones aren't just about looking at wildlife and moving on. Child magazine today announced the results of its exclusive survey to identify the top 10 family-friendly zoos in the country. The five-month investigation examined everything from interactive features to educational programs to security and safety measures. The comprehensive survey -- whose results will appear in the June/July 2004 issue of the magazine (on newsstands nationwide May 18th) and can currently be viewed online at www.child.com -- was based on strict criteria and data compiled during the magazine's extensive five-month investigation of over 150 institutions belonging to the American Zoo & Aquarium Association, the first endeavor of its kind.

The findings were quite surprising with the majority of zoos on the survey not belonging to the bigger zoos; rather they are mid-sized and make excellent use of their resources to intrigue children. From a zoo where toddlers can take a stroller tour given by a naturalist to one that sought yearlong counsel of more than a dozen kids planning a new exhibit, the top 10 winners all feature something special for those who visit.

According to the Child Survey, the 10 Best Family-Friendly Zoos In Order Are:

1. Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa, FL

2. San Diego Zoo, San Diego, CA

3. Oklahoma City Zoological Park & Botanical Garden, Oklahoma City, OK

4. Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL

5. Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix, AZ

6. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Cincinnati, OH

7. Bronx Zoo, Bronx, NY

8. Toledo Zoo, Toledo, OH

9. Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Fort Wayne, IN

10. Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, Columbus, OH

"What we found when investigating the best in family-friendly zoos was very impressive," says Miriam Arond, Child magazine's editor in chief. "The majority of them find creative ways to involve children -- in fact there was only a small margin separating the leader from the 10th-place finisher. One trend we noticed was the use of interactive features -- from puppet shows and plays to question-and-answer sessions with veterinarians -- aimed at providing children with a memorable experience."

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