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Florida Animal Parks and Zoos

Florida is one of the top three states in America for zoological facilities tying with Texas and only surpassed by California. The climate and landscape are ideal to showcase many different animal species from North America, South America, Africa and Asia. No longer just a place to see exotic animals, zoological parks are interactive and giving the visitor an adventure in seeing animals from their backyard to across the continents, zip lining, kayaking, walking and drive through safaris are just some of the unique ways to get to know the animals of our world, and Florida is leading the way to increase ecological awareness by offering these amazing adventures.

A total of 16 American Zoological Association accredited animal parks, plus another seven International Marine Animal Trainers Association facilities and a few notable animal conservation facilities are listed here by region.

Parks by Region

Central Florida South Florida Gulf Coast
Southwest Florida Northeast Florida Florida Keys Dolphin Encounters

Central Florida Zoos and Animal Parks

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Cheetah at Central Florida Zoo
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is specially designed with kids in mind. They have a Wharten-Smith Tropical Splash Ground to keep them cool in the Florida heat, KaBoom Playground, animal feeding at the Animal Adventure Children's Zoo, Little Florida Coastline Railroad that goes 1 mile around the park, and Animal Carousel. For big kid fun, take a Segway around the park to see monkeys, leopards, lemurs and many other endangered species. Massey Services Insect Zoo has hands-on exhibits for kids, and the herpatarium has the Southeast's largest collection of venomous and non-venomous reptiles. Keeper chats are offered throughout the day with up close animal encounters. Make a full day of adventure out of it: ZOOm Air Adventure Park features 3 zip lining courses, and Battlefield Live Orlando- Laser Tag are separately priced but located outside the entrance to the zoo. View website »

Sea World Orlando

Killer Whales at SeaWorld
Best known for Shamu, Sea World combines education and entertainment in a marine atmosphere. Dolphins and killer whales show off natural athletic abilities in visually stunning performances and don't miss the comical antics of the Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island Sea Lion Show. Feed dolphins, sea lions and sting rays, learn about Sea World's Rescue and Rehabilitation Program with manatees, turtles, and cetaceans, and visit Wild Arctic where you can see beluga whales, walrus and polar bears above and below the water. Travel through the world's largest underwater acrylic tunnel to view sharks, fish, and eels. Marvel at the speed of penguins flying underwater. Sea World in Orlando is a full day of fun and interactions with animals, roller coasters, and magnificent nighttime fireworks. View website »

Discovery Cove

Escape from crowded theme parks and traffic jams, and find a beach oasis of relaxation and fun at Discovery Cove. This Central Florida attraction combines the resort experience with phenomenal animal encounters. Discovery Cove limits the amount of people allowed into the park per day and provides an all-inclusive package that you create. Snorkel with tropical fish and rays, float along the scenic Wind-Away River, hand feed exotic birds in the free-flight aviary, and play with friendly dolphins. All lockers, sunscreen, snorkel gear, food and drinks are included. Packages are available to also include admission to Sea World, Aquatica, or Busch Gardens. View website »

Disney's EPCOT - Seas with Nemo & Friends


The Seas with Nemo & Friends features a massive Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium that holds one of the largest man-made ocean environments in the world. Over 6,000 inhabitants representing over 60 species include sea turtles, angelfish, dolphins, rays, sharks and a special manatee rehabilitation area. Special programs include Epcot Seas Aqua Tour for snorkelers, Dolphins in Depth for dolphin lovers and DiveQuest for certified divers. View the aquarium from different angles on your own personal "clamobile", converse with Crush in Turtle Talk with Crush, and learn about sharks in the fun activity area, Bruce's SharkWorld. Hungry? The gorgeous Coral Reef Restaurant is also located at The Seas pavilion featuring delicious seafood and a spectacular floor-to-ceiling view of the aquarium. View website »

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Elephant at Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom is a Disney theme park completely devoted to incorporating humans into the natural world. View animals in natural settings with walk-in aviaries, observation decks, and large windows. Walk through the gorilla habitat and observe a family group on one side and the other, a bachelor pad. Birds fly over the audience at the Flights of Wonder, gibbons and siamangs commandeer ancient ruins and the Kilimanjaro Safari careens you into the heart of Africa surrounded by many free roaming animals. 3-D shows, live performances of favorite Disney animations and countless rides keep the whole family entertained. You'll never know what you'll find around the next corner. View website »

Gatorland

Alligator at Gatorland
Gatorland provides affordable-priced family fun with thousands of alligators & crocodiles to see, an aviary, breeding marsh with observation tower, petting zoo, nature walk, award-winning gift shop and one-of-a-kind reptilian shows including the Gator Wrestlin' Show, Gator Jumparoo and the Up-Close Encounters Show. Don't miss four of the world's largest and rarest white leucistic alligators in White Gator Swamp. Take a ride on the Gatorland Express train, get soaked in the Gator Gully Splash Park, and for adrenaline junkies, fly through the air on Screamin' Gator Zip Line featuring over 1,200 feet of high flying thrills with five heart racing zip lines and a massive 150 ft suspension bridge. View website »

Silver Springs

Black Bear at Silver Springs
Experience the "Old Charm" of Florida at Silver Springs, a nature park showcasing the splendor of Florida. Famous for their glass bottom boat cruises, Silver Springs offers passengers an unparalleled view of the underwater life, history and natural habitat on the Silver River. The World of Bears is the largest bear exhibit of its kind in the world. Two acres of outdoor habitats showcase a variety of rare and endangered bear species. Don't miss the Reptiles of the World Show, Non-Venomous Snake Show, "Wings of the Springs" free flight bird show and daily alligator and crocodile feedings. Kids Ahoy! Playland features a replica of a 1800s riverboat, carousel, and cargo climb area. For those who like a little adventure, climb on board Wrangler Jeep towed trams for close up encounters with native Florida forest wildlife. View website »

Macaques at Silver Springs

Brevard Zoo

Giraffe at Brevard Zoo
Brevard Zoo is the only zoo in the country where you can kayak to see animals from around the world. View African wildlife such as birds, lemurs and gazelles, and kayak through a Florida wetland. Feed white-tailed deer, lorikeets and giraffes. See animals from Africa, South America, Australia/Asia and Florida. Paws On Play is the interactive kid's area where they can splash in the lagoon, build a fort, feed animals, and pretend to be veterinarians or solve a mystery at the Wildlife Detective Training Academy. Treetop Trek Aerial Adventures is a challenging outdoor obstacle course with tightropes, jungle bridges and zip lines. Whether it's from land, water, or the air, you'll gain a whole new perspective on wildlife. View website »

South Florida Zoos and Animal Parks

Miami Seaquarium

Miami Seaquarium
Miami Seaquarium is home to Orca Lolita, her Pacific white-sided dolphin friends and many other playful characters. Daily shows showcase the animal's natural abilities from the comical antics of the sea lions at the Sea Lion Show, to the high jumping splash sensensations of Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins at the Top Deck Dolphin Show and Flipper Dolphin Show. Learn about other animals at the Tropical Wings bird and reptile show. See Nile Crocodiles in Crocodile Flats, touch and feed stingrays, and learn about sharks narrated by animal care specialists as they feed these prehistoric eating machines. Take the time to learn about Florida's iconic animal, the manatee. Miami Seaquarium is only one of three facilities in the state of Florida designated as a manatee rescue and rehabilitation establishment. Watch a diver point out different feed and identify tropical fish, turtles and moray eels during the informative Tropical Reef Presentation. Various dolphin interaction programs are also offered. View website »

Lion Country Safari

Lion Country Safari was the first drive through safari in the United States, and it is the only drive through safari in Florida. From the comforts of your own vehicle you can observe African, Asian, and South American grassland animals roaming freely in natural habitats spanning 4 miles. See Brazilian Tapirs in Las Pampas, Greater Kudu and impala in Ruaha Nationl Park, Blackbuck in Gir Forest and the Nile Lechwe in the Kalhari Bushveldt. The lions are kept separate from the grass grazers in Gorongosa Reserve. Hwange National Park is where you'll find white rhinos, zebra, giraffe, and chimpanzees.Safari World is a walk through safari with many different birds, reptiles, and mammals. Shows and Keeper Talks are offered throughout the day. Taka boat ride on the Safari Queen to learn about siamangs and spider monkeys, or opt for a paddle boat to see these playful primates. Lion Country Safari also has rides, mini golf and a Safari Splash. KOA Kampgrounds and RV Resort are located adjacent to Lion Country Safari and offer a discount to the park. View website »

Zoo Miami

This large zoo has 3 distinct world regions to discover. Observe African elephants, black rhinoceros, gorillas and chimpanzees in the African Exhibits. See the difference between the Dromedary and Bactrian camels, marvel at the Malaysian Sun Bear and many other bear species, and learn about the similarities between dinosaurs and birds at the Wings of Asia Aviary pavilion in the Asian Exhibits. The Australian Exhibits feature koalas, tree kangaroos, crocodile monitors, and many others. Keeper talks throughout the day, Diego Meet and Greet Amazon and Beyond exhibit famous among young children. Take a 45-minute Asian or African Safari Tour along the public walkways and behind the scenes. The wooden Carousel is reminiscent of the golden age of carousels. To see everything at Zoo Miami, hop on the monorail, a safari cycle or safari tram. View website »

Palm Beach Zoo

Palm Beach Zoo is a tropical oasis home to many birds, monkeys, tigers, koalas, komodo dragons and much more. The Mayan ruins of the award winning Tropics of the Americas Exhibit showcase central and South American species such as jaguars and capybaras. See the Wings over Water Bird Show and explore the Nocturnal Animal Observatory. Gain a new perspective on some of your new found zoo friends at the Animal Encounter areas and Wild Things Show. Kids can splash and squeal in the Interactive Water Fountain and ride the Wildlife Carousel. Most of the animals at the Palm Beach Zoo are endangered or threatened in the wild and part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP). View website »

Monkey Jungle

Monkey Jungle is a 30 acre reserve "where humans are caged and monkeys run wild". It is home to nearly 400 primates representing 30 species, many of which are endangered. See the adorable Golden Lion and Red Handed Tamarins, high swinging gibbons and crab-diving Java monkeys. Gorillas, orangutans, squirrel monkeys and Diana monkeys are just some of the animals you will see at this unique sanctuary. Feeding sessions are listed for the different species and provide picture perfect opportunities. You can also see tropical birds in the aviary. Monkey Jungle participates in reserch programs worldwide and natural behavior research of primates at its facility. View website »

Flamingo Gardens

Flamingo Gardens is an established wildlife sanctuary for rescuing and rehabilitating animals and a wildlife refuge. The park has beautiful botanical gardens throughout, plus a tropical plant house and Xeriscape Garden that demonstrates native and exotic plants with minimal irrigation. A narrated tram ride takes you through tropical rainforests, a native hammock, wetland area, and groves. Feed the flamingos, meditate in the Butterfly and Hummingbird Gardens and take a free tour of the historic 1933 Wray Home. Visit the Bird of Prey Center and the 25,000 square foot Everglades Free-Flight Aviary which has one of the largest collections of wading birds in America. See Florida panthers and bobcats in natural habitats and the Wildlife Encounters Show is offered daily. View website »

Jungle Island

Building upon the rich tradition Parrot Jungle began in 1936, the current Jungle Island opened in 2003 and is home to the world's rarest and most incredible animals. Guests participate in hands-on interactions with fascinating animals, marvel at the engaging animal shows and presentations, and are amazed by the park's breathtaking landscapes and vistas. Visitors can view large cats from behind panes of glass. See Egyptian Hamadryas baboons, a Liger, red kangaroos and South African penguins. The Winged Wonders Show enchants visitors with parrots, birds of prey and the world's only trained Cassowary. Dr. Wasabi's Wild Adventures and Tale of the Tiger Shows feature exotic animals such as warthogs, penguins, primates and tigers. Relax at La Playa, Jungle Island's private beach. Manú Encounter is an expansive walk-through aviary modeled after the clay cliffs of Manu, Peru with free roaming colorful macaws and a troop of squirrel monkeys. Visit a recreation of the Florida everglades in the Everglades Habitat, the interactive Children's Area, and see the twin orangutans, Peanut and Pumpkin, only the third pair of orangutan twins known to survive in history. View website »

Gulf Coast Animal Parks and Zoos

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Baby White Rhino on the Serengeti Plain
The animals are at the heart of this world class theme park and favorite Tampa Bay Area attraction. Travel to far off places to see exotic animals in natural habitats from around the world. The Edge of Africa is a walking safari where you can view hippos from underwater and stare a lion in the eye. At Jambo Junction, you can participate in animal feedings and receive lessons in husbandry and behavior training. Feed colorful lories at Lory landing and hop around with red kangroos and wallabies at the Aussie themed Walkabout Way. Observe families of gorillas and chimpanzees among waterfalls in the Myombe Reserve. Take a wild off-road jeep tour through the open veldt of Africa, and experience the speed of a cheetah at Cheetah Run! With so many up-close animal opportunities, you might forget that Busch Garden has rides and roller coaster, too! View website »

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

Bald Eagle
Lowry Park Zoo has been rated the #1 zoo for kids by Parents magazine. It is recognized as a state center for Florida species conservation and biodiversity, and has the most extensive collection of Florida animal species in Florida Boardwalk. Lowry Park Zoo also operates the only non-profit manatee hospital in the world and to date the hospital has rescued and rehabilitated more than 290 manatees from the Florida Keys to Texas. See the "Spirits of the Sky" bird of prey show and walk through large free flight aviaries. See exhibits with multiple species living harmoniously in Safari Africa and feed giraffes and rhinos. Visit endangered primates from tiny marmosets to orangutans in Primate World. At Stingray Bay, you can feed and touch Florida's stingrays. The interactive Wallaroo Station is designed especially for families. Kids can mingle with goats and parakeets, splash in the "The Billabong" water play area, ride the Tasmanian Tiger family roller coaster, and see many different Australian animals. Maybe a wallaby will cross your path when you step inside the wallaby exhibit. Lowry Park Zoo has many special events happening throughout the year, so be sure to check their website before visiting. View website »

Florida Aquarium

Saltwater Aquarium at Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium focuses on the aquatic ecosystems of Florida from wetlands to beaches to open ocean. Thirty species of free flying birds such as egrets, spoonbills, and herons, blue herons and white ibis hang out in the wetlands with alligators. See curious river otters, meet a penguin at the Penguin Promenade, feed stingrays, and take a behind the scenes tour of the aquarium to see how it works. The Coral Reef gallery displays weedy and leafy sea dragons from Australia and the dwarf sea horse native to Florida. For diving enthusiasts, go diving in the Coral Reef with sharks, and for guests 6 and older, snorkel in the Swim with the Fishes program. Ecotours to see wild dolphins in Tampa Bay are also offered. View website »

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Winter and trainer at Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Best known as the home of Winter, the dolphin who was rescued with a damaged tail that had to be amputated and star of the movie Dolphin Tale, Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a rescue and rehabilitation facility for many aquatic animals. CMA works with agencies such as the National Marine Fisheries and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to help rehabilitate animals back to the wild or provide a permanent home for them. Learn about sea turtles, river otters, sharks, conservation and more. Watch training sessions with the dolphins, feed stingrays, touch slimy sea creatures and hear about each animal's unique story. Behind the Scenes tours, kayaking adventures and boat cruises offer unique insights into the workings of the aquarium and Tampa Bay. View website »

Southwest Florida Zoos and Animal Parks

Naples Zoo

Naples Zoo in the Southwest corner of the state is a world class facility with some unusual residents. It's the only zoo in Florida to display Fosas from Madagascar, and is 1 of only 4 zoos in the USA that house Honey Badgers, or ratels, as they are called in Africa and India. The Black Bear Hammock is the largest black bear exhibit in the East. Hand-feed giraffes, watch professionals feed the alligators and see rescued Humane Society dogs raising a pack of rescued coyotes and living with the dingos. The Primate Expedition is a 20 minute catamaran tour past monkeys, lemurs and apes. Boat ride is included in your admission at this Naples attraction. View website »

Mote Marine Aquarium

Mote Marine Laboratory has been a leader in marine research since it was founded in 1955. A rescue and research facility, Mote promotes environmental and wildlife education through interactive exhibits and viewable working labs. See sharks, dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, and penguins along with more than 100 other species of marine life. They conduct many research projects with their resident and rescued residents like how pollution and atmospheric conditions are affecting the animals. Learn how researchers track sharks in the wild using high-tech sensing equipment and underwater microphones with SHARKTRACKER at this Sarasota attraction. Mote offers interactive, hands-on eco-adventures in conjunction with Sarasota Bay Explorers including the renowned Sea Life Encounter Cruise, Guided Kayak Tours, Nature Safari and private charters. View website »

Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Sarasota Jungle Gardens features 10 acres of lush tropical vegetation, winding jungle trails and entertaining, educational bird and reptile shows throughout the day. Celebrating its 70th anniversary, Sarasota Jungle Gardens is one of the oldest continuously operating attractions in Florida and is home to hundreds of donated, abandoned, and/or neglected animals given by rescue organizations and individuals nationwide. Daily shows of Birds of the Rainforest, Reptile Encounter and Birds of Prey & Critters & Things educate the public on animal facts and natural behavior. Their free roaming colony of American Flamingos is very impressive. View website »

Panhandle

Gulf World Marine Park is a high energy facility with dolphin shows, sea lion shows, shark and turtle feedings, and an underwater SCUBA show to educate the public on marine life in our oceans. Dolphin interaction programs and special needs therapy sessions are also offered and Gulf World is the only facility in North America to house rough toothed dolphins. Other animals guests can observe around the park are tropical birds, flamingos, penguins, alligators, iguanas and more at this Panama City Beach attraction. View website »

Northeast Florida Zoos and Animal Parks

St. Augustine Alligator Farm

Feeding Alligators at GatorlandOpened in 1893, St. Augustine Alligator Farm is one of Florida's oldest zoological attractions and is listed in the National Register of Historical Places. This is the only zoo in the world that has every type of crocodilian that exists, 23 species of alligators, crocodiles, caiman, and gharial. In addition, they have birds and primates from all over the world. Have your cameras ready as you cross the boardwalk through the swamp. Not only will you get fantastic pictures of the famous reptiles, but you most likely will see different species of wild wetland and wading birds in this natural bird rookery. This St. Augustine attraction also offers a new zip line adventure called Crocodile Crossing where you literally soar over alligators and other wildlife. View website »

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens not only showcases a variety of animals from different continents, but transports you to these special pockets of the world. The Range of the Jaguar features a Mayan temple and South American animals from the air, land and water. Dart frogs, arapaima, and giant river otters are not to be missed. The African Loop is a walking safari where you can feed giraffes and observe elephants, cheetahs, antelope, and a 1 acre lion exhibit. Monsoon Asia, the Australian Adventure, and Wild Florida all feature native animals from these parts of the world. Feed giraffes and lorikeets at this Jacksonville attraction. Take a spin on the Wildlife Carousel, pet and feed stingrays, watch monkeys, apes and lemurs swing and play, and enjoy beautifully landscaped botanical gardens. Jacksonville Zoo will celebrate 100 years in May 2014. View website »

Marineland Dolphin Adventure

Dolphin at Marineland
Marineland Dolphin Adventure was the first oceanarium to open in the United States. It began as Marine Studios, a facility where Hollywood would film all their underwater footage for the movies in 1938. It became the first establishment to train and breed dolphins in the 1950s. Today, Marineland Dolphin Adventure is a dolphin interaction park near St. Augustine and a dolphin research facility affiliated with the Georgia Aquarium. Many programs are offered for all skill levels and ages. Marineland also offers kayak tours of the Matanzas Estuarine National Park in partnership with Ripple Effect Ecotours and the University of Florida's Whitney Lab for Marine Bioscience. View website »

Dolphin Encounters and Experiences in the Florida Keys

Dolphin Encounter

The Dolphin Connection

The perfect image of paradise. The Dolphin Connection is connected to the world class Hawks Caye Resort and dolphin encounters take place in a natural sea lagoon. The Dolphin Connection is not just there to make dreams come true, it's also a research facility where scientists and universities can work closely with the trainers on understanding and learning about dolphin behavior on dolphin research programs. For instance, male calves develop a signature whistle similar to their mother's, but female calves develop a unique signature whistle. Meet a dolphin from the dock or enter the dolphin's world of water to interact with these intelligent animals in this Florida Keys attraction. Special needs programs offered as well. View website »

Dolphin Research Center

This was the first facility to offer dolphin and human interaction programs in 1982. The Dolphin Research Center is a full fledge marine mammal education park offering presentations on dolphin athletics, medical training and research sessions. Programs include in-water programs such as Sea Lion Splash and Dolphin Encounters and dry interactions like Paint with a Dolphin. The Dolphin Research Center works with scientists at universities and in the field to help study paternal testing, dolphin cognitive abilities, and immunology to name a few. Their Trainer for a Day and Researcher for a Day programs are great for teenagers to experience a day in the life of these fantastic careers. They also provide special needs assistance for individuals to participate in their programs. View website »

Theater of the Sea

Interact with dolphins, sea lions and stingrays in natural saltwater lagoons. Snorkel with the dolphins, hug a sea lion, and see tropical birds, birds of prey and alligators. Different programs allow you to interact in and out of the water. Theater of the Sea also offers an Adventure and Snorkel Cruise, a 4 hour boat tour along 13 miles of the Atlantic coastline and Florida Bay. Learn about pirates, treasure hunters, and early settlers of the Florida Keys and snorkel the pristine tranquil waters full of colorful reefs and fish. View website »
Tiffany Karabaich By Tiffany Karabaich
Tiffany turned a passion for animals into an animal training career at places like Busch Gardens Tampa, Disney's Animal Kingdom and overseas in the Caribbean. Today she manages a website dedicated to her animal co-workers, worldwide conservation programs and natural animal encounters. Visit www.itravelforanimals.com.






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