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10 rare zoo animals and where you can see them

Posted at 3:17 PM, Sep 02, 2014

With over 17,000 animal species classified as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, zoos are increasingly becoming the site to find the world's rarest creatures.

Without having to leave your computer, here is a look at 10 of the most unique animals that can be found in captivity in America and abroad, as well as where you can find them.


Albino American alligators

Where to see them: Newport Aquarium (Kentucky)

Photo: Newport Aquarium

A pair of striking white gators joined the ranks at Newport Aquarium in northern Kentucky last November. The 6-foot long creatures, aptly named Snowball and Snowflake, are two of less than 100 known white alligators in the world, according to a release from the Newport Aquarium.

African painted dog

Where to see them: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (Ohio)

Photo: Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

With only 3,000 remaining in existence, the African painted dog is literally a rare breed. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden opened an exhibit in June that featured several of the beautiful dogs. The zoo’s website declares the painted dogs are not only one of the most predatory species, but “the rarest species on the African continent.”

Snow leopard

Where to see them: Bronx Zoo (New York)

A signature resident of the Bronx Zoo, the snow leopard has been on display at the site for over a century. The big cats are listed among the world’s most endangered, with an estimated 3,500 to 7,500 left on the planet, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. Earlier this month, a pair of snow leopard cubs made their public debut at the Bronx Zoo.

Panamanian golden frog

Where to see them: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Photo: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

These gilded amphibians are officially listed as critically endangered but may actually be extinct in the wild, according to The Maryland Zoo. Experts indicate habitat loss, pollution and climate change are among the chief reasons for their demise. The Maryland Zoo is among the world’s leaders in conserving the Panamanian golden frog, being the first institution to breed them in captivity.

Bactrian camel

Where to see them: Minnesota Zoo

Photo: Getty Images, 2013

Typically found in Asia’s Gobi desert, the Bactrian camel is a rarity to see in chilly Minnesota. While the domesticated breed seem to be thriving, wild Bactrian camels are considered near-extinct, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In addition to the Minnesota Zoo, these camels can be seen at the San Diego Zoo and Detroit Zoo.

Cotton-top tamarin

Where to see them: Lincoln Park Zoo (Illinois)

Photo: Tambako the Jaguar/Flickr

The endangered cotton-top tamarin has one of the flashiest hairstyles in the animal kingdom. Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo has been working to conserve the species, which is considered at-risk for extinction because of the illegal pet trade, according to the zoo’s website. These primates are native to Colombia’s rainforests.

Brazilian ocelot

Where to see them: Dallas Zoo (Texas)

Photo: Dallas Zoo

One of the cutest animals on this list of zoo gems, there are only 30 Brazilian ocelots in zoos across America, according to CBS Dallas-Fort Worth. The cub pictured here was born in June at the Dallas Zoo, giving that facility three of these uncommon creatures. While ocelots are not endangered in the wild, they are hard to find in captivity in North America.


Lord Howe Island stick insect

Where to see them: Melbourne Zoo (Australia)

Photo: Rohan Cleave/Melbourne Zoo

This green insect, also known as a tree lobster, was thought to be extinct for years due to predatory rats but in 2001, more were discovered off the coast of Lord Howe Island between Australia and New Zealand. Australia’s Melbourne Zoo estimates there are only 20 to 30 left in existence. The San Diego Zoo also had a collection of the endangered insects in 2012.

Sumatran tiger

Where to see them: London Zoo (United Kingdom)

Photo: Zoological Society of London

More gorgeous cats, the London Zoo’s Sumatran tiger family are another global rarity. After numbering around 1,000 globally in the 1970s, there are an estimated 300 left in the wild today, according to The Independent. The zoo made news in February, when a five-year-old tigress gave birth to triplets.

Burmese star tortoise

Where to see them: Toronto Zoo (Canada)

Photo: Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo made news this week as the site of Canada’s first Burmese star tortoise birth. The tortoise’s population has declined steadily due to mass harvesting for the food market, according to a release from the zoo. Of the nine eggs laid on Jan. 21, this baby’s was the only one that proved to be fertile.

This map from plots out where these rare species can be found, so set your GPS now!

Rare Zoo Animals | My Bucket List itinerary on!

Follow this writer on Twitter @MrClintDavis.