Why should you visit the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens? Well, because it’s a beautiful zoo, with lovely gardens throughout, and a variety of animal species to view and learn about, and there is something for all ages to enjoy! I have visited the Jax Zoo many, many times … as a tourist years ago and as a “local” several times over the past 5 years (living here in St. Augustine, Florida). The Jacksonville Zoo has over a million guests annually, making it the #1 paid attraction and conservation leader in Northeast Florida!
As you walk through the zoo, there are wide pathways with signs directing you throughout. There are various gardens with a wide variety of flowers, trees, and plants from various parts of the world as you traverse the different animal habitats. I will take you along the journey and share some photos I have taken during my more recent visits then share links and general zoo info at the end. Here are a few bamboo, garden, and scenery shots from recent visits.
When you first enter the zoo, you will see the train, restrooms, guest services, first aid and security, and stingray bay ($2.00). There are signs directing you to the various animal loops. It is recommended you take the Africa Loop first … here you will see Birds of the River Valley free-flight aviary (we recently saw tons of nesting Wood Storks, which was really cool!), warthogs, ground hornbills, ostrich, bongos, rhinos, zebras, okapi, leopards, elephants, cheetahs, the reptile house, the lion loop, cranes, and storks. Check the schedule for Keeper Chats including Elephant Encounters, Bats of Africa, and African Plains: Meet the White Rhino.
As you continue on the main path make sure you don’t miss the Giraffe Overlook and Savanna Blooms Garden. You can get up close and personal with the Giraffes (you can feed them for $2.00). What an awesome photo op!
Return to the main path to the South America Loop. Here you will see the Range of the Jaguar exhibit which is a national award winner. Also in this loop, you will see anteaters, monkeys, bats, snakes, fish, and the Emerald Forest Aviary. Check the schedule for Keeper Chats including the Emerald Forest Aviary, River’s Edge, and Temple Talk.
After leaving there, you will come upon the Australia walkabout where you will see wallabies, cassowaries, emu, and lorikeets in a free-flight aviary. Check the schedule for Keeper Chats including Campground Critters Show and Amphibian Talk.
Along the path, you will pass by the trout river and see a beautiful fountain and sculpture as you are headed toward the Far East to see the Land of the Tiger. In this area, you will see tigers, warty pigs, babirusa pigs, hornbills, otters, Komodo dragons, koi, and the Asian Bamboo Gardens. The innovative trail for the Tigers in the tiger exhibit is really neat and all the bamboo is fabulous. Check the schedule for Keeper Chats including Tiger Training and the Komodo Dragon Encounter/Feeding.
When you retrace your steps out of the Asia Loop, you will come across the Play Park. This is a great stop if you have kids to let them climb and play, play in the water at the 4000-foot splash ground (seasonal) and ride the carousel. My boys always enjoyed this area when they were younger. There are a few animals in this area as well including squirrel monkeys, penguins, and goats. Check the schedule for a fun Keeper Chat: the Tuxedo Coast Penguin Feeding.
Heading back toward the entrance/exit, you will come upon the African Forest. This recently opened wellness inspired exhibit is home to gorillas, bonobos, mandrills, colobus monkeys, and lemurs. You will be wowed when you see the 40-foot Kapok tree and the trail system. Check the schedule for Keeper Chats including Gorillas and Company, Bonobos, and Madagascar.
The last stop, that you don’t want to miss, is Wild Florida. In this area, you can see American alligators, black bears, Florida panthers, bobcats, bald eagles, cranes, snakes, salamanders, and frogs. My favorite is the Bald Eagle! This area is also home to the Manatee Critical Care Center which is used to rehabilitate manatees from our area that are illness or injury. Check the schedule for Keeper Chats including the Bald Eagle Chat, Reptile Encounter, and Alligator Feeding.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the zoo and seeing a sampling of photos. I highly recommend a visit to this zoo whether you are a local or a visitor, whether you are young or old. There is so much to see and do at the zoo! Below are a few links to give you more information about the zoo hours, costs, educational programs, zoo experiences, and more! If you want to learn more about other places to visit in Northeast Florida, be sure to follow my blog and like My Page on Facebook. Happy Adventuring! ~Kristina~