Featured Article, The Brevard Zoo, Viera, FL

Entrance To The Brevard Zoo

The Brevard Zoo

Born of a dream shared by local business people and community leaders, the Brevard Zoo was created to be somewhat of a retreat from the encroaching man-made jungles that threaten communities worldwide, and Brevard County in particular.

Just a short drive off the bustling traffic of Interstate 95 lies the lush, roughly 50-acre wildlife and conservation hub that is the Brevard Zoo. Past the shopping malls, restaurants and new housing developments, across the busy North Wickham Road thoroughfare, a different world awaits.

The first thing you notice as you walk through the entrance of the Brevard Zoo is the natural beauty of the native trees, the wild Florida flora, and the integration of the animal and wildlife exhibits into this habitat.

Yes, many animals live here. More than 500, belonging to over 165 species, we're told.

Hands-On Experience For Children - Brevard Zoo

A Special Adventure Just For Children At The Brevard Zoo

Sounds of high-pitched shrills, hoots and howls greet the ears and just to the right, you encounter the Paws On area. It doesn’t take long to realize much of that noise is coming from young children and this is their special spot. This area houses the Contact Yard, a shallow swimming area, and an aquarium that is meant to mimic the underwater environment of the Indian River Lagoon. It is not uncommon to see kids splashing each other in the pool, being totally captivated by stingrays and horseshoe crabs or sliding down the whale slide. Meanwhile, grateful parents wade along the sidelines, happy for a little respite from the Florida heat. On the dryer side, kids can make contact with pygmy goats, alpacas, box turtles and others in the Yard.

Habitats and Exhibits - Brevard Zoo

Animal Habitats & Exhibits At The Brevard Zoo

Follow the path and feast your senses as the colorful flora and fauna lead you down various trails, where countless animals welcome visitors, others go about their daily routine mindless of peering eyes, and the occasional recluses try to find a spot of privacy.

The La Selva area loops you through the habitats of quite a variety of animals, including what seem to be a family of jaguars, some curious and cheeky tamarins, illusive iguanas, some sleepy sloth and a grand exhibit of austere vultures.

Alligator at the Brevard Zoo

Next, encounter the alligators, crocodiles, and river otters in Wild Florida which runs along the river and offers pedal boating and the opportunity to see the crocodiles and alligators being feed at certain times of the day. One especially precious experience is the chance to see the nearly extinct, red wolf.

By this time, you will probably need to recharge, refill and refresh, so a stop at the Flamingo Café would likely be in order. Here you can order food to eat at the café or venture out a little further to sit alongside the embankment. You will no doubt catch a great view of a myriad of colors, as flamingos and peacocks prance, preen and generally soak up the midday the sun. Don't be surprised though, if a few of these welcoming birds walk up to the area to take a closer look at you.

The adventure continues on to Australia/Asia where you should keep an eye out for various animals from Oceania and Australia. Think kangaroos, emus and wallabies. There are also gibbon that rest along the gates to the next area. A must-do experience in this area is the free aviary, which is actually made up of three sections; birds, Turaco butterfly and bats. And by the way, free means free flying, as in they fly above and around you. Yes, even the bats.

Rhinoceros at the Brevard Zoo

The final stop is Expedition Africa and it is as grand and awe-inspiring as one would imagine the continent to be. Imagine a safari in 30 minutes. White rhinos, running alongside zebras. Ostriches racing impalas. Meerkats frolicking. Cheetahs in their place. Giraffes sauntering about. A population of scimitar oryx, which are extinct in the wild, grazing by the banks of the river. Oh, and imagine you can also catch these sights while kayaking along that river.

Meerkats at the Brevard Zoo

Price of Admission and Supporting The Brevard Zoo

While the Brevard Zoo is not a big zoo, there are many adventures to be had and a great benefit of its size is that that you can go around for seconds or thirds, if you are die-hard adventurer. With tickets that are fairly priced, ranging from $14.95 for children 3 years to 11 and $19.95 for adults (11 and over), you may want to visit a few times. Special discounts for seniors and group rates are available. Membership plans offer the best value and perks, with the added reward of supporting this important conservation and education effort.

It is this support from patrons, area citizens and community businesses and leaders that has made the Brevard Zoo and its mission for "wildlife conservation through education and participation" a dream come true.

So, armed with this vision and powered by more 16,000 volunteers, the Brevard Zoo became the "largest community built zoo in the world" and officially opened its doors on March 26, 1994.

In keeping with its mission, the Brevard Zoo has worked directly with local and international conservation and training groups, maintained a healthy partnership with the Brevard County Public Schools and other institutions, and contributed to the financial growth of the region. Campaigns to restore native oyster population and conserve the mangroves in the Indian River Lagoon, a Sea Turtle Healing Center, an onsite "Zoo School" and other programs, affect countless citizens and impact tens of thousands of students each year.

Throughout the years, the Brevard Zoo has embarked on numerous projects and undergone various additions and renovations, including a completely revised Paws On area and the former animatronic dinosaur exhibit, which was a huge success in the past and is set to come back later this year.

Adventures and Experiences at the Brevard Zoo

Adventures & Experiences Offered At The Brevard Zoo

Additional Fees May Apply

Giraffe Feeding - Visit the Expedition Africa Platform for some face time with these tall, handsome creatures and their 18-inch tongues. Keep your eyes keen though, as there are plenty of impalas, Stanley cranes, marabous storks, some white rhinos, a few zebras and other creatures lounging about.

Make sure to check with the schedule for the day, as each day at different times guests can meet keepers, learn more about the animals' feeding habits and sometimes even get hands on experience with the animals.

Rhino Encounter - If a chance glance at the majestic rhino is not enough, you won't want to miss out on this up close and personal encounter with the zookeeper. The tours are only offered twice a daily during the noon hour.

Paddle Boats - If you like the freedom of your own pace, then this self-guided excursion through the restored Florida wetlands will suit you just fine. You're more than likely to encounter native birds, turtles, plenty of fish, not to mention the occasional wild otter enjoying the water alongside you.

Train Rides - Whether you have young kids, need a rest from the sun, or just love getting a guided tour from the experts, you are sure to appreciate this fun excursion through the habitats of the camels and ostriches. If you're lucky you may catch a glimpse of the rare oryx as well!

Kayak Tours - Not unlike the paddle boats, one option of the kayaking tour is that you may go off on your own adventure. However, should you choose, a guide can lead you through Expedition Africa, where you are likely to see ring-tailed lemurs, klipspringer, giraffe, impalas or cranes.

Zip Line at the Brevard Zoo

Treetop Trek Aerial Adventures - The name says it all! Adventure in the form of zip-lining from treetop to treetop, climbing rope bridges, crawling from branch to limb and careening your way through acres of Florida landscapes. The self-guided courses offer varying degrees of difficulty, so there's no danger of being bored and all likelihood of adrenaline-pumped adventure.

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