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Because of its small size, the zoo is at its best with its displays of smaller animals. The indoor multilevel Tropic Zone is a real highlight, its steamy rainforest home to everything from black-and-white colobus monkeys to Emerald tree boa constrictors to a leaf-cutter ant farm; look for the new dart-poison-frog exhibit, which is very cool. So is the large penguin enclosure in the Polar Circle, which is better than the one at San Diego’s SeaWorld. Despite their pool and piles of ice, however, the polar bears still look sad.

The zoo is good for short attention spans; you can cover the entire thing in 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It’s also very kid-friendly, with lots of well-written and illustrated placards that older kids can understand. For the littlest ones, there’s the $6-million Tisch Children’s Zoo ★. With goats, llamas, potbellied pigs, and more, this petting zoo and playground is a real blast for the 5-and-under set.