10 reasons to visit the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. It’s a great place to visit with your family. You’ll have fun exploring and learning!
During a recent hosted trip to Jacksonville, Florida, we visited the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. My whole family had a wonderful time visiting since there are fun things to see and do throughout the day.
There are many great animal attractions in Jacksonville. The zoo is a premier attraction in the city as it offers the ability to see over 2,000 exotic animals and 1,000 plant species throughout the 115 acres.
Located along the Trout River, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has been a wonderful zoo in Jax for over a century. It blends together zoo exhibits with lush pocket gardens as a way to highlight their active animal conservation and botanical garden programs.
10 reasons to visit the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
Whether you are a resident or a visitor to Jacksonville, you should plan a Visit to the zoo for a fun activity. You will stay engaged and have tons of fun when you wander the different exhibits to see the different animals and exotic gardens.
More than 2,000 exotic animals
With exhibits featuring animals from the African plains, African Rainforests, South America, Australia, and Asia there is something from every corner of the world.
Besides animals from around the world, there is a section on Wild Florida animals. Florida has some pretty cool animals; from native alligators, pelicans, flamingoes, panthers, and bears there are some many to see up close. Plus, who doesn’t love seeing an animal they have never seen before or having an unexpected animal encounter.
The zoo has a main path that has different habitats that branch off that centrally located trail. Follow the trail to see the different exhibits and it will take you to overlook where you can enjoy some beautiful views of the Trout River.
The animals are organized by were they are from so this gave us a change to talk about the different kinds of animals you find in different locations around the world. This helps spark conversations about travel and how to be a conscience explorer of the world.
One of the things that was really cool about the zoo was how you can view the animals from different vantage points. The different overlooks gave expansive views showcasing where the animals could roam.
In the land of the Tiger, the different areas were connected with a cat walk that allowed you to observe the tigers walking above you. In fact, one of the tigers was taking a snooze above our heads in the cat walk.
One of the funniest things we saw at the zoo were the Asian Small-Clawed Otters chasing around North Sulawesi Babirusa because it stole some clams that the otters were being fed. The poor babirusa was out of breath from the 8 of the otters chasing it.
When we travel, we like to focus on educational experiences with our kids. Our family loves to learn and ask questions to the care givers as they clean or feed the animals.
With over 2,000 animals to experience by viewing, petting and feeding, you can stay busy for a whole day while visiting the zoo and gardens.
Award Winning Garden Exhibits
The garden exhibits are integrated throughout the animal exhibits so you seamlessly move through the gardens as you move throughout the zoo. You’ll love the beauty in the variety of colors and textures of the plants all around you.
The Range of the Jaguar garden won the 2005 AZA Exhibit of the Year Award. You are in for a real treat when you are visiting the zoo when everything in vibrant and blooming.
One important aspect of the gardens is the conservation work they do. Through habitat loss and climate change, plant species are in need in conservation, just like animals. The gardens include orchids in their conservation efforts as way to promote them while educating the community about them.
The Kids’ Play Park
I swear the Kids play Park is reason enough just to visit the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. There is a maze, goat petting zoo, a penguin exhibit, and a splash pad.
The 4,000 sf Splash Park that kids love to play and cool off in during the hot summer months. Florida gets hot!!!!
Be sure to bring a change of clothes and towel for the youngsters to stay comfortable. There’s nothing worse than a disappointed child watching others play because a change of clothes was forgotten.
Our favorite part of the Kids Play Park is the goat petting zoo.
The Kids Play Park as a Goat Petting Zoo. I repeat a GOAT PETTING ZOO!
The petting zoo is a fun, safe activity that everyone is sure to love in your family. The kids are taught safe petting practices to interact with the friendly goats. They love some good scratches behind their ears.
I loved this just as much as the kids. Even when my new feisty goat friend bit my hair when I was trying to take goat selfies!
Take a Train Ride
The vintage train loops around the whole zoo so you get to enjoy a some behind the scenes views of the exhibits and maybe a glimpse of animals you didn’t see on the walking path.
You can start your visit to the zoo by hopping on the train at Main Camp, and then winding your way through the exhibits along the main path. Or you can just enjoy a full trip around the zoo for a nice leisurely loop around the zoo.
There are beautiful art exhibits throughout the zoo at are integrated throughout the exhibits, gardens, and cafe.
There are pieces that are made from recycled materials, pieces from local artists, and art that animals that interact with as well. The Bee Hotel is a great example of a beautiful piece of art that is functional as well, as it attracts bees.
Eye to Eye with Giraffes
You can get eye to eye with some giraffes at the Giraffe Overlook. Climb onto the covered elevated platform to get breathtaking views of the African Savanna. You’ll have an intimate experience with the gentle giants. You can even feed the giraffes!!
Purchase a Total Experience Ticket to be able to feed the giraffes, as well as other animals. This is great for everyone, young and old!
Check Out Some Cool Reptiles
While our kids have seen some small geckos running around outside, they were surprised a the size of the Komodo Dragon that was part of the Asia Loop.
The Amphibian Conservation Center is filled with a wide variety of scaly, slick, slimy animals. Turtles, snakes, newts, and frogs- oh my!
Feed Some Fun New Friends
One of the really cool things about the Jacksonville zo is that with an Total Experience Ticket, you can feed several kinds of animals.
At the touch tank in Sting Ray Bay, you can feed the stingrays. They are very friendly and my kids loved this. As well, you can feed giraffes at the Giraffe Overlook and birds while you stroll through the aviaries too!
The 4D Theater is really cool as it creates a thrilling experience with fun special effects that brings the on screen images to life. They regularly change out the movies for you to enjoy in the theater.
Your ticket to the 4D Theater is included in the Total Experience Ticket.
Take a Spin on the Wildlife Carousel
Kids have so much fun riding on the carousel. They can choose which animal they want to ride from traditional horses to extreme gators.
Unlimited Carousel Rides are included in the Total Experience Ticket.
The education programs are a really important reason to visit the Jacksonville Zoo. They strives to create a fun, interactive, educational experience that teaches everyone about the animals and gardens. Conservation is such an important part of their work so they are trilled to share about their work in protecting animals, both near and far.
The zoo has great programs for schools, scouts, and homeschooling programs.
There are even virtual programs that you can enjoy from home too! Your kids can learn why it’s important to turn off lights at night as part of ways to help migratory birds.
Enjoy your next visit to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Your family will have so much fun exploring and learning!
While our trip was hosted by Visit Jax and we received complimentary ticket to the Jacksonville Zoo and gardens , all opinions are honest and my own.
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