The Surprising Cape May County Zoo

Two lions in the Cape May County Park and Zoo in New Jersey.

Known largely for its Victorian architecture, great beaches and Fall bird migrations, Cape May County is far less known for its incredible zoo. And even then, people who haven’t seen the zoo think it likely to be one of those fly-blown, chicken wire-and-2×4 roadside attractions that are never as advertised. Which is what makes the Cape May County Park and Zoo so surprising for first-time visitors.

This high-grade animal-watching experience sprawls across 85 wooded acres — compared to the 42 acres of the much more famous Philadelphia Zoo. Even more impressive are the open-range enclosures where animals from around the world roam. Large as farm fields, they are a far cry from the cramped cages and quarters that can make a trips to other zoos depressing. Perhaps what the Cape May facility does so much better than others is confine the humans to fenced-off elevated boardwalks and allow the animals to range freely. It turns out that when Trip Advisors’ Travelers’ Choice Awards announced its selection for the 10 best zoos in the U.S., Cape May’s was #5. Its truly regal lions (above) are just one reason for that.