There is something magical about zoos. No matter how old you are, a zoo brings you right back to your childhood and fills you with this incredible sense of wonder. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that you're looking at animals that you normally don't see walking down the street. Whatever it is, I think that going to zoos should become more of a regular activity in our lives. This can be accomplished relatively inexpensively in some places. For instance, the Oregon Zoo is free for every visitor on Tuesday. Granted, Tuesdays are not the most convenient, but it's a start. They also put on concerts in the zoo during the summer and have a month-long event in December called "Zoo Lights" where they decorate the entire zoo with Christmas lights.
The last time I went to a zoo was in 2007 in Vienna. The Vienna Zoo, located at the Schoenbrunn Palace, is a pretty amazing zoo. Voted the best European zoo in 2010, the Vienna Zoo is incorporated in a corner of the vast gardens at the palace. It's such an amazing place. The funniest part to me, being from the Northwest, was that the very first exhibit was an enclosure of Northwest Nutria. What!?! I laughed so hard when I saw that because you can walk anywhere in the Willamette Valley and find a nutria along the creeks and rivers. It was funny to see that they warranted an exhibit in a zoo. Regardless, there is such an amazing collection of animals at the Vienna Zoo and wandering through the grounds with a delicious cone of eis is the perfect way to cap off a tour of the Palace and extensive gardens. Visit if you can!