Best Zoo Near Orlando

Maria Johnson
• Tuesday, 10 November, 2020
• 7 min read

For families looking to save money on their vacation budget, zoos offer a great alternative to the expensive theme parks. Gator Land is a great park to learn about the Sunshine State’s most spectacular wildlife, including giant alligators, ibis, herons and roseate spoonbills.

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Jungle Land is home to more than 200 live gators, as well as other exotic animals such as the rare Florida Panther, Black Bears, Gray Wolves, White-Tailed Deer and Tropical Birds. If you’re in the mood to see the world’s most venomous snakes, be sure to visit Reptile World Serpentarium, located at 5705 East IRL Bronson Memorial Highway in St. Cloud. The exhibit was originally used as a research facility in the early 1970s, and is now home to Cobras, Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, Water Moccasins and many other dangerous species.

His hobbies are spending time with his three great kids, traveling with his wife (Amanda) and going to Ole Miss sporting events. Exotic Animal Experience, a privately-owned facility stretching over 7 acres, is a magical place.

Our exotic animal zoo in Orlando, FL, is home to many diverse species, all indigenous to different countries, including: Since the decade, it’s grown to include more than 40 super sweet and tame animals that are sure to steal your heart.

Private and group visits are available to either share the joy with friends and family or have more time alone with the animals. Schedule an exotic animal encounter ASAP to play with our sweet babies.

Children of all ages are welcome to brush the adorable pygmy goats in the Animal Care Yard or touch the Southern and Atlantic Stingrays at Stingray Bay, while adventurous animal lovers can feed giraffes at the Giraffe Overlook or hold a cup of nectar for the Rainbow Lorises at the Australian Adventure area. It’s here that you can see an array of exotic animals, from manatees to tigers, monkeys, and rhinos to African elephants, koalas, and orangutans.

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Perfect for young visitors, there is a splash pad to cool off in, an area to feed playful goats, and plenty of engaging educational shows that will keep them entertained. For a unique birds-eye view of the park, visitors can delight in a ride on the monorail, or if it’s a hot summer day, you can cool off in the splash zone.

Offering some of the unique experiences you can have at a zoo, you can kayak through Africa or get a birds-eye view of wild animals by zip lining through South America. Kids will delight in the memorable experiences to be had here, from colorful Tories resting on their arms to touching a baby gator, stroking a rhino and feeding a giraffe.

The park’s shaded boardwalks are surrounding by lush foliage and wetlands, while a 20,000-gallon aquarium offers a peek at the diverse underwater marine life and a touch tank play area for kids. Domestic animals can be found at the Barnyard Buddies Children’s Zoo, while those who are fascinated by fierce creatures can see the Southeast’s largest collection of venomous snakes and non-venomous reptiles in the Herpetarium.

Make sure to take a look at the fossa, an animal that is closely related to the mongoose and civet and is the largest native predator on the island of Madagascar. The walkthrough portion is called Safari World, where kids of all ages will delight in the colorful displays of birds and fish.

Take home souvenirs at the Lion’s Den Gift Shop or rent a paddle boat to float along Lake Shanna lee, while the kids will want to explore the Safari Splash Spray ground with water features and slides. Lively animal shows and multimedia exhibits keep the entire family entertained, while a boat cruise sails past the primate island where you’re given a chance to see monkeys and lemurs.

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Make sure to see the Black Bear Hammock exhibit, catch a captivating “Snakes Live” show or plan a visit to the 19-foot reticulated python. The kids will love the Safari Line Train, where you can ride past hippos, gorillas and antelope roaming free on the 30-acre preserve while you relax on a classic CP Huntington style locomotive.

Visit the free flight aviary to see hundreds of colorful parakeets flying around as they perch on your hand, or take a walk along the elevated boardwalk for a bird’s eye view of the roaming herds of deer, zebra, and rhinos. See the one-eyed Screech Owl, watch ring-tailed lemurs at play, hold an alligator, or take a stroll along the winding jungle trails that wrap along the tropical landscaping and gardens.

In addition to being the only zoo in the country where travelers can see animals from all four great ape species, Fort Worth's wildlife habitat offers the reptile- and amphibian-filled Museum of Living Art. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has evolved from philanthropist Spencer Penrose's private exotic animal collection into a noted educational facility.

While exploring the exhibits that house the zoo's 170 species, be sure to pet the wallabies, greet the orangutans and feed lettuce to the friendly giraffes. Weekends are especially crowded, so the best way to see this can't-miss attraction is to splurge on a premium zoo experience, such as an early morning breakfast with pandas followed by a property tour.

Save money by going on a Wednesday (when the entrance fee is any amount you wish to donate), bringing food and buying a Metro-North Railroad Getaway Package. Families can take advantage of free facilities like a lagoon and an aquarium or pay for special experiences like train rides, zip lining and giraffe feedings.

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For a unique zoo adventure, join a guided kayak tour to see Expedition Africa's rhinos and lemurs from the water. The year-round facility features exhibits with red pandas, primates, hippos, penguins and more, plus a 4D movie theater, a carousel and a railroad, among other amenities.

The zoo's naturalistic habitats range from an African savanna to rainforests for South American creatures to a sand-floored barn where zookeepers bury food and toys for elephants. Board the monorail for a guided Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari past a waterfall and five exhibits that are not otherwise accessible.

Or, participate in an evening Family Safari Night Hike, which is available on select days and costs $20 per person for visitors ages 5 and older. For 60 years, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has grown from a brewery and bird park to a major fixture encompassing thrill rides, live shows, animal exhibits and expert veterinary care.

At this Tampa attraction, travelers have access to an array of animal encounters, including the 30-minute Serengeti Safari, which allows visitors 5 and older to hand-feed giraffes from open-air vehicles. Fans of “The Wildlife Docs” series on The CW won't want to miss the 45-minute Animal Care Center walking tour.

This $29 per person experience includes watching park animals receive wellness exams and interacting with the zoo's veterinarians. The Wilds were founded in 1984 when the Central Ohio Coal Company gifted nearly 10,000 acres of surface-mined land to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

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Zookeeper and TV host Jack Hanna helped develop the plot of land roughly 75 miles southeast of downtown Columbus into a large educational preserve that complements the main zoo. Adults can prolong their stays by reserving private yurts at the Nomad Ridge camp, where binoculars are available to watch passing animals like rhinos and red-tailed hawks.

In the Louisiana Swamp exhibit, visitors will learn how Cajuns used Native American conservation techniques to create a unique culture and cuisine in a swampy environment. The petting zoo gives little ones the chance to interact with zebus (miniature cows) and giant Algebra tortoises in an African farm setting, while the five-story treehouse at Monkey Hill (New Orleans tallest point) is a great place to burn off some energy.

While exploring this Rapid City attraction from late April through November, you may encounter black bears crossing the road and mountain lions, buffaloes, elk and reindeer roaming in fields. Before leaving, stretch your legs in the Wildlife Walk area, which features a gift shop and is lined with educational exhibits about foxes, skunks and other small mammals.

Native California desert plants line well-marked hiking trails that overlook Eisenhower Peak and the Coachella Valley, while African baobabs, triangle palms and elephant trees grow in the Madagascar Garden. The zoo also offers educational camel rides, reptile encounters and an endangered species-themed carousel, though some amenities and activities are only available during select months.

Big Cat Crossing, one of five Zoo360 trails, features an overhead mesh bridge for lions, pumas, jaguars and more. Standard admission costs $28 to $37 per person and includes entry to the walk-through Safari World amusement park, with animal presentations, bird and giraffe feedings, a petting zoo, a water playground and more.

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And if you don't feel like trekking 21 miles east to a hotel in central West Palm Beach, you can pitch a tent at the on-site GOA campground. Designated areas include an Alaska-inspired region with everything from brown bears to porcupines, a water-filled habitat for Peruvian penguins and a tropical rainforest where jaguars live alongside frogs and birds.

At the city's Safari West nature preserve, which sits less than 28 miles northwest of Sonoma, visitors can get an up-close look at nearly 1,000 animals from 90-plus species. The nearly 100-acre Tucson facility uses invisible fencing in animal habitats, including those for endangered species like Mexican gray wolves and thick-billed parrots.

At this wildlife park in downtown Indianapolis, visitors can interact with approximately 1,400 animals while exploring the gardenlike setting and attending a number of special events. Can't-miss exhibits include Oceans (an aquatic area with an underwater dolphin-viewing dome) and the Simon Skoda International Orangutan Center.

Travelers can watch native Alaskan creatures like rare snow leopards, moose and other Arctic species roam the wooded, hilly landscape of Anchorage. On a chilly Midwestern day, visitors can stay warm while observing otters, monkeys and more in the zoo's Tropical World area.

Travelers can also head to the Living Coast exhibit to check out aquatic animals like sharks and Humboldt penguins. As part of the nonprofit Chicago Zoological Society, the zoo uses a portion of entrance fees to support various global conservation projects, including youth leadership training in Botswana and dolphin tagging in Brazil.

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The zoo's busy social calendar includes various conservation fundraisers, such as Pints for Pangolins, Wine for Rhinos and Beers for Bears. Another must-visit exhibit is The Edge, where you can see Amur tigers walking across overhead bridges and from a viewing area with a perforated wall.

Visitors can use an animal map to navigate the park's dirt roads on foot or ride the complimentary shuttle, which stops in four areas. Watch zookeepers prepare special diets, get an up-close look at various critters (during select months) or explore the Enrichment Playground, which is filled with toys similar to those used by the property's animals.

You'll find the action-packed Hermann Memorial Park, where the zoo resides, easy to reach by Eurorail's Red Line from downtown Houston.

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