The Most Famous Zoo Animals Around the World

By Maddie Donnelly, Condé Nast Traveler magazine

They've got fans and a devoted staff, they're all over YouTube, and they fly first class. But these stars are less Planet Hollywood and more Animal Planet. Meet Edinburgh Zoo's newest headliners: giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang.

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The male and female pair flew FedEx Panda Express (this is not a joke) from China to their new home in the UK on Sunday. Authorities so believe that the duo will bring an increase in tourism that they forked over $10 million to secure them for ten years. It's the zoo's hope that Tian Tian and Yang Guang-two of the roughly 2,000 pandas left in the world-will breed and welcome a baby in the near future.

The duo joins the ranks of other animal "celebrities" across the globe that can draw in crowds like a Justin Bieber concert.

Winter the Dolphin
Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Florida
Arguably the most famous dolphin in the world, Winter lost her tale in a crab trap accident as a baby and has survived, and thrived, with a prosthetic tail. Not every dolphin gets a biopic-with Morgan Freeman no less, but Winter is the inspiration for the recent Dolphin Tale.

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Mei Xiang the Giant Panda
Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
If you've ever seen the "Sneezing Baby Panda" YouTube video, you've already met Mei Xiang, a giant panda living in DC as a gift from the Chinese government. The video featured Mei Xiang and her adorable baby Tai Shan, who has since been relocated to China.

Mia the Egyptian Cobra
Bronx Zoo, Bronx, NY
Mia, short for "missing in action," caused quite a stir when she escaped from her cage in New York in March of this year. Now safely back in the Bronx Zoo's Reptile House, her fictional Twitter account still has more than 200,000 followers.

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Reggie the Alligator
Los Angeles Zoo, Los Angeles, California
Most likely raised in illegal captivity and then abandoned when he grew too big, Reggie became one of Hollywood's A-list animal celebrities when he managed to elude officials trying to catch him in a California park lake for almost two years (he even had a blog). Finally captured, the 6 ½-foot-long mischief-maker now resides at the Los Angeles Zoo.

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Clearwater Marine Aquarium