"The birds live in the zoo."
Translation:Gli uccelli vivono nello zoo.
Yes they are interchangeable most of the times. First I thought doulingo didn't allow usage of "abitano" in this case because abitare is solely used when talking about us humans, but while searching for an answer i stumbled upon sentences like "Il vostro cane abita a casa con voi o in giardino? = Does your dog live with you at home or in the garden ? "
But still I am not sure if we could say "Gli uccelli abitano nello zoo", because it is zoo we are talking about and not a house or an apartment...
I thought on the same lines as dnovinc, Another difference might be, that pets are often considered members of the family. Something more: "Gli uccelli abitano nello zoo" is more from a children's book where animals are treated like humans. In all, "abitano" is not impossible, but it would be better if you learned "vivono"