All of us have been to the zoo at least once in our lifetimes as it is still one of the most popular family activities around the world. Although there are opposing views about them, they keep their existence.

Interestingly, there is a significant amount of money behind how these facilities are maintain and there is an economy of the animals, how they should be keep as healthy as possible, how they should be housed and so on. The below list will give you an idea about the most expensive zoo animals in the world and why they are that way.


Giant Panda, namely Ailuropoda melanoleuca in Latin, is the most expensive animal in the world to be keep under captivity. There are four zoos in the United States that display giant panda and these are in Memphis, San Diego, Washington, and Atlanta. The reason why the expense is so high is the leasing fee Americans have to pay to China annually is $1 million.

Giant pandas are five times more expensive than elephants because it is costly to produce the 84 pounds of bamboo it eats each day and keep the pandas’ environment safe. Originally coming from south-central China, these animals have black patches around their eyes, torsos, and ears making them one of the cutest animals in the world.


The second most expensive animals to keep in zoos are elephants according to Guinness World Records. Called Elephantidae in Latin, these mammals are the largest existing animals that live on land. Asian elephants can be between 18-21 feet in length and weigh up to eight tons. They are a major attraction for people of all ages. However, due to their size, they are costly when it comes to pools, buildings, transportation, and landscaping. Elephants’ lifespan varies between 60 years to 70. An elephant can eat for 18 hours constantly, making it highly costly to feed it.


According to Animal Planet, hippos, namely Hippopotamidae in Latin, are the third-largest living animals that live on land after white rhinos and elephants. Their height can be up to 5 feet tall at the shoulder and around 16 feet long. While females can weigh up to 3,300 pounds, males can go up to 4,000 pounds. These animals poop so much that special filtering mechanisms are necessary to get rid of the waste constantly and systematically. Originally coming from sub-Saharan Africa, hippos can get quite moody and aggressive. Special pools of water are necessary for their environment as they can spend almost 16 hours in the water daily. Their 40-50 year life span also makes them hard to maintain.


One of the endangered species of the world, golden lion tamarin is a monkey native to the forests of Brazil. Because of the fear of them becoming extinct, a significant amount of money is spent on their habitat. The process starts with the transition to the zoo, food, quarantines, crate, permits, and check-up expenses. As monkeys have complex social hierarchies, in order for them to mate, zoos need more than a community but a network of monkeys that have become accustomed to living together. Some golden lion tamarins simply do not fit in with groups making it harder for zoos to breed them.


The fact that there are less than 300 white lions cubs left worldwide, makes these animals one of the most expensive zoo species. Found in the Timbavati region of Africa, a rare mutation cause their fur to be white.

Many people think they are albinos, however, they are not. One of the rarest animals on the planet, many white lion cubs do not make it to adulthood in the wild. Recently The Altiplano Zoo in central Mexico started to display two of them. Another zoo in Mexico, The Tlaxcala Zoo, also has a cub that was born in 2018 along with three adults.


Native to Australia, the palm cockatoos are the largest black cockatoos that exist in the world. They know to be affectionate and strikingly beautiful. They are 20 and 24 inches tall and grow up to be 3 pounds. The reason why they are so expensive is that they are very hard to breed and their numbers have declined drastically in recent years due to trade hunting, habitat loss, and sport. Palm cockatoos live alone, within other groups or in pairs and they know to stay together for life as pairs. Although their numbers are low, fortunately, they have not become extinct.


One of the most expensive animals both in nature and in zoos, toucans are descendants of the woodpecker family although they are compare to hornbills. They called “toucan” because of the sound the bird make which resemble croaking frogs. The most dangerous threat to these strikingly beautiful creatures is habitat loss. Unfortunately, this fact also affects forest diversity and health because toucans pass seeds from their poop to the rainforest ground, helping to keep the forest healthy and promoting continued growth. Ramphastos toco can live up to 20 years in captivity and they can weigh up to 1.5 pounds.


Another popular and rare zoo animal is the lavender albino ball python, which comes with expensive costs. Its lavender color comes from a recessive mutation between yellow and red. These snakes are also the focus of private auctions today where people pay great amounts of money to take them home. They are easy to feed, eating only twice a week and need a clean bowl of water. Lavender pythons originally come from Africa and it was once the most expensive animal in the world that animal enthusiasts were after. The snakes can become familiar and trusting with their handler in time and it might even start enjoying interactions.


This rare insect can be little, but its cost is not. Just like the other animals that are about to become extinct due to loss of habitat, stag beetles face the same problem. It is estimate to be around 1200 species of stag beetle that prefer to live in damp areas like under rotten wood and leaves. There are few zoos around the world that can afford to display a stag beetle, a member of the Lucanidae family of insects. They can measure between 2 and 4.8 inches. In Japan, some families collect these rare creatures and teach their children to play with them.


Kids love these animals! With their playful and friendly personalities, savannah cats love playing in the water, creating a scene of amusement for people who come to see them. These majestic creatures are a hybrid of a domestic cat and a serval and can live up to 19 years. They can get quite big, weighing up to 40 pounds. The largest ears compared to other cat species giving them a funny look. They love to eat large insects, frogs, birds, and crabs. They are one of the most visited animals in the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park.


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