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Zoo In Florida – 8 Famous Places To Visit

The zoo in Florida is full of wildlife. There are many zoos in Florida. Also, the zoos here are the best to visit to explore the exotic and rare wildlife. So, let’s go through the article; it’ll help you select the best zoo in Florida out of the many renowned zoos given below.

1. Famous Zoo In Florida – 8 Places To Visit

There are many famous zoos in Florida. Given below are the eight famous zoos to visit here.

1.1. Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park

The Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park is a non-profit zoo. It was formerly called Lowry Park Zoological Garden. This zoo is situated in the city of Tampa, Florida, USA. However, it was voted as the number 1 Family Friendly Zoo by the Parents Magazine in the United States. Further, it is also better known as Florida’s Center for wildlife conservation and Biodiversity.

The zoo is managed and executed by the Lowry Park Zoological Society. It is an independent charitable organization. AZA gave the license to this zoo of Tampa. Meanwhile, AZA refers to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This is also a member of WAZA. WAZA refers to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

zoo in florida
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However, Tampa’s Lowry Zoo is also part of the following organizations:

  •       FAA – Florida Attractions Association
  •       CBSG – Conservation Breeding Specialist Group
  •       FAZA – Florida Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Following are the exhibits here to showcase to the visitors:

  •       Primate World
  •       Florida Wildlife Center
  •       Asian Gardens
  •       Safari Africa
  •       Wallaroo Station
  •       Main Aviary
  •       Rides
  •       Conservation

Some of the important facts are given below:

  • The first zoo in Tampa was a mini reservoir of tropical animals in Plant Park.
  • It was made on the University of Tampa’s grounds across the Hillsborough River.
  • Furthermore, the zoo occupies an area of 63 acres.
  • However, it features a wide range of wildlife, with more than 1300 animals.
  • Since the reopening of the zoo, many animals and new segments have been added here, usually with a geographical theme.  

1.2. Zoo Miami

Zoo Miami is also popularly called the Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens. It is the biggest famous zoo in Florida. However, it is a zoological park and garden. Further, the zoo is situated near Miami in Miami-Dade County, Florida, US. The zoo was formally established in the year 1948 at Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park.

It was replaced at its original location of Naval Air Station Richmond again as Miami MetroZoo in the year 1980. Also, the location is surrounded by four census-designated places. Firstly, it is surrounded by the Palmetto Estates to the East. Secondly, Richmond West surrounds the zoo to the West.

Florida's Largest Zoo | Zoo Miami

Thirdly, it is surrounded by the Three Lakes to the North. Lastly, South Miami Heights surrounds this place to the South. This is the only tropical climate zoo in the United States. It has more than three thousand animals. These animals are of approximately five hundred species. However, the zoo has occupied an area of 750 acres. Moreover, it features more than a hundred exhibits.

Also, the history of the park dates back to 1948. Near Miami, the 1st small roadshow was held here. In repairs for the truck, there were 2 black bears, a goat, and 3 monkeys exchanged for about 270 dollars. It was the start of the Crandon Park Zoo with these sic animals.

Some of the important facts are given below:

  • Elephants, several lions, and a rhinoceros were the first animals here.
  • Afterward, pheasants, Galapagos tortoises, and a few monkeys were also added.
  • Over the years, the zoo underwent many evolutions and expansions to reach its place. 

1.3.  Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens

The Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is also popularly known as the Naples Zoo. It is situated in Naples, Florida, US. However, the zoo is spread over an area of 43 acres. In addition to the zoo, it is also a historical botanic garden. In 1919, Dr. Henry Nehrling did the first plantings here. He was an ornithologist and a botanist.

During the 1950s, new plantings were added by Julius Fleischmann. Also, he developed a pathway along with a few lakes. He also initiated a waterfowl and introduced some parrots. In 1954, it was begun as the Caribbean Gardens. In 1968, Julius Fleischmann passed away. Afterward, Jane Tetzlaff and Larry introduced several exotic animals here in the year 1969.

Video Overview of Naples Zoo at Caribbean gardens

Larry was also popularly known as Jungle Larry, whereas Jane Tetzlaff as Safari Jane. However, the Zoo of Naples features around seventy species of different animals. Usually, the main animal exhibit is held in the historical gardens of 1919. The Primates in the zoo are sheltered on the islands at a lake created by Julius Fleischmann.

Some important facts are given below:

  • Visitors can look at the Primates via the Primate Expedition Cruise.
  • The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) licensed the zoo nationally.
  • However, it is also an institutional member of AAZK. AAZK refers to the American Association of Zoo Keepers.
  • However, The Moreton Register of Arboreta also licenses the garden itself.
  • Also, the garden has membership to the Association of Zoological Horticulture and the American Public Garden Association.

1.4.  Gulf Breeze Zoo

The Gulf Breeze Zoo was formerly known as The Zoo Northwest Florida. It is situated in Woodland Beach, Florida, with neighbors Navarre and Gulf Breeze, Florida, US. Also, the zoo has occupied an area of fifty acres. However, it features more than nine hundred exotic animals. These animals include Orangutans, Hippos, Rhinos, and the western lowland Gorillas.

Visitors can explore these animals during a train ride named the African Preserve. Further, the zoo supports many programs. These programs are habitat preservation, wildlife conservation, and captive breeding programs.

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The zoo was officially opened in 1984 as The Zoo Northwest Florida. Later, it opened as the Gulf Breeze Zoo on February 18, 2010. At the beginning the zoo began on Burgess Road with an area of an acre of land. Afterward, it opened on the larger tract in the Cantonment, Florida. However, the zoo was founded at its recent location by 4 local businessmen.

Pat Quinn became the first director of the zoo. He was also one of the founders. Initially, the zoo started with around sixty animals on an area of nineteen acres. The founders gave the zoo’s holdings to the Gulf Coast Zoological Society, which is a nonprofit organization. It happened because the founders could not make a profit in 2004.

Some important facts are given below:

  • Ivan and Dennis’s hurricanes devastated the major area of the zoo in 2004 and 2005.
  • On August 17, 2009, the zoo went under a temporary shutdown.
  • It awaited the Santa Rosa and Escambia counties’ governments’ decisions for the funding of 125,000 dollars each.
  • However, on August 20, 2009, the permanent closure of the zoo was announced by county officials.  

1.5.  Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is situated at 370 Zoo Parkway, Jacksonville, Florida, US. It is closer to the Trout River’s mouth. However, it has occupied an area of 122 acres of land. Also, it features more than two thousand animal species and over a thousand species of plants. This makes it the wide collection here.

With over 1 million visits annually, the zoo has become one of the famous attractions here. Hence, it is a famous zoo in Florida. Initially, the municipal zoo was begun in Springfield on May 12, 1914. It is a neighborhood of the Jacksonville town in Florida. However, the Red Deer Fawn was the first animal that was exhibited here.

Quick Tour of the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Further, the zoo was shifted to a 37.5 acres site on July 19, 1925. The site was located on the Trout River at the North area of the city. Zorro, a jaguar, was probably the most significant animal in the zoo. Zorro was a wild-born black male jaguar who came to the zoo in the month of August 1967. Meanwhile, black jaguars were rare at that time.

Following are a few important facts:

  • In the late 1960s, the zoo was known to have the biggest exotic animals collection in the South-East region.
  • Afterward, the reputation somehow fell, and it needed a large sum of money to save the zoo.
  • In 1992, a major construction was started for the redevelopment work of the zoo.
  • In addition to the public funds together with private funds, a seven members committee raised more than 20 million dollars.  

1.6. Brevard Zoo

The Brevard Zoo is a non-profit facility zoo. It is situated at North Wickham Road, Melbourne, Florida, US. However, the zoo has occupied an area of 75 acres. Also, it features over nine hundred animals, which represents over 195 species of Florida, Asia, South America, Australia, and Africa.

Moreover, the zoo showcases many exciting activities. These activities include BTS (behind the scenes) tours, animal feedings, train rides, Treetop Trek attractions, and Kayak tours. Previously, it has featured an exhibit named “Dinosaurs are Back”. It lasts from November 2017 to April 2018. Further, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums has provided the license to this non-profit organization.

Brevard Zoo Full Tour - Melbourne, Florida

However, the zoo is comprised of five loops. These loops are:

  •       Lands of Change: Australia and Beyond
  •       Paws On
  •       Expedition Africa
  •       Rainforest Revealed
  •       Wild Florida

In 1986, the purpose of establishing a zoo was to take a break from the manmade world. So, you can engage with the diversity of life. However, the construction work of the zoo started in the year 1992. At that time, more than 16,000 people came over to help in building the zoo. The zoo celebrated its grand opening ceremony on March 26, 1994.

Some important facts are given below:

  • Allegedly, 328,973 visitors came to this zoo in the year 2007.
  • Out of which, 175,046 were the daily paid guests.
  • However, the renovations of the exhibit entitled Paws On started in 2007.
  • It was reopened in the month of April 2009.
  • These renovations included an aquarium and a swimming region.

1.7. Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is a zoo along with the botanical gardens facility. It is situated in Sanford, in the north of Orlando, Florida, US. Also, the zoo has occupied an area of 116 acres of land. However, this zoo is a non-profit organization. Since 1986, it has been a licensed member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The Central Florida Zoo was first started in 1923 with a little collection of animals. However, the local fire department donated these animals to the zoo. At that time, the zoo was known as Sanford Municipal Zoo. In the year 1941, the zoo was relocated along with new facilities to the place where Sanford City Hall is now located.

Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens Full Tour - Sanford, Florida

On July 4, 1975, the zoo was relocated again to its current location. The Seminole County donated the 106 acres piece of land. Together with the support of dedicated citizens, the Central Florida Zoological Park was opened. It started at its current location, along Lake Monroe. Jack Hanna was the director of this zoological park.

Some of the important facts are given below:

  • In 1986, AZA-accredited the zoo.
  • Later, in 2005, the Wayne M. Densch Discovery Center and ZooLab were added.
  • Now, the zoo features more than 350 animals here.
  • These animals represent over a hundred species.
  • Animal encounters and keeper chats are activities for visitors.
  • Animals in the zoo include mammals, birds, and reptiles.
  • Further, you can also find a splash park and a carousel within the zoo.

1.8.  Palm Beach Zoo

The Palm Beach Zoo is officially known as the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society. It is a non-profit zoological organization. Also, it is situated at Dreher Park, West Palm Beach, Florida, US. However, the zoo provides shelter to hundreds of animals. Out of which many animals are endangered animals.

Palm Beach Zoo 2023 | West Palm Beach, Florida | Full Tour

The zoo is spread over an area of 23 acres of land. In addition, it is also a part of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Its popular exhibits are:

  •       The Islands
  •       Florida Wetlands
  •       Harriet W. and George D. Cornell Tropics of the Americas
  •       Asia

2. Conclusion

Florida has numerous zoos. Meanwhile, the Florida zoos are the best option if you are here to explore wildlife. You can visit the above-mentioned best and most famous zoos here. These zoos have a large variety of exotic and plant-animal species.

Most of the zoos are also botanical gardens to explore. However, these gardens have many plant species to see and explore. Along with the wildlife and gardens, some zoos are also historical zoos and are spread over a wide area of land.

For more details, click here.

Last Updated on August 1, 2023 by SushmitaBiswas