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Iowa Wildlife, Zoos, and Farm Animals

Whether you want to walk on the wild side or putter around a petting zoo, Iowa’s animals are ready to play. Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines is the best in the state. Wander through themed areas like the African Boardwalk and see more than 800 animals, including lions, otters, and flamingos. Feed the parakeets, ride the colorful carousel, and walk through an outdoor aviary.

Delight your kids with a trip to a petting zoo. At Gilbertson Nature Center in Elgin, you can pet goats, calves, kittens, puppies, and bunnies. Find baby animals every spring and pony rides year-round at Black’s Heritage Farm in Ames. For the biggest petting zoo and farm animal experience, you can’t beat the Iowa State Fair. Every August, you can watch dog shows, see blue ribbon livestock, and pet your heart away in the barns.

Looking for wildlife? Located on the Missouri River, the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge is a sanctuary for thousands of ducks and geese. See tiny snails and white-tailed deer at Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge, and reptiles at Bailey’s Ford Nature Center.

Blank Park Zoo

Located in Des Moines, the Blank Park Zoo has entertained and educated its guests since its construction in 1966. The park features over nine major animal exhibits including the African Boardwalk, Discovery Center, Aquarium, and much more. Drive in from nearby Clive on your next trip through central Iowa and enjoy the zoo.

The 250-acre zoo also entices visitors with its frequent events and facilities capable of hosting weddings, birthdays, company picnics, and all-around group outings. Visit Blank Park Zoo – the only accredited zoo in Iowa – during your next Des Moines visit.

Soaring Eagles Nature Center

The Soaring Eagles Nature Center was established more than 30 years ago in beautiful Clinton, northeast of Davenport, in eastern Iowa. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the gorgeous floral displays. Explore the center's 40 acres of forestedland and bring along a picnic to enjoy in the outdoor amphitheater.

Visit the Interpretive Center, located in a renovated 1938 barn, to learn more about the area's history and environment. Stroll through the 1935 Flannery one-room schoolhouse to see the historic desks and furnishings.