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This enjoyable, engaging attraction is in an outlying neighborhood of Boston; animal-mad families won't mind the cab ride or trek on public transit. The centerpiece is the Tropical Forest exhibit, a sprawling complex that houses more than 50 species of animals. Here you might have a close encounter with a Western lowland gorilla (Little Joe, who made international headlines by literally going over the wall in 2003, is secure in a redesigned enclosure) or see a pygmy hippo. Kids find the hands-on Franklin Farm both entertaining and educational. Tigers, lions, and giraffes (with their zebra friends) have their own turf, as do the zoo's 400 budgies (parakeets). The Serengeti Crossing and Outback Trail exhibits assemble species from their respective continents -- African zebras, ibex, and ostriches; and Australian kangaroos, emus, and cockatoos.

Allow at least half a day for a visit, and try to budget for a cab ride in at least one direction. Franklin Park is 40 minutes from downtown by subway and bus, and the walk from the main gate and parking area to the entrance is fairly long.