Zoo Miami – Miami, FL

October 11, 2012 at 5:33 am | Posted in For the Family | Leave a comment
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Back on September 29th, The Smithsonian celebrated their Museum Day Live by offering free passes to different museums all over the country.  I can’t even tell you how excited I was to see Zoo Miami on the list!  I hadn’t been down there since it was Miami Metro Zoo and shortly after Hurricane Andrew had plowed through.  Needless to say, a lot has changed over the years, and everything was much better than I had expected.

We showed up before the zoo had even opened and were one family of about a dozen waiting to get in.  It felt like we had the place to ourselves.  We decided to head over to the bog cats first before they got too hot and tired.  The lions and tigers (and later on, bears) were wide awake, enjoying their morning.  A lot of the habitats have areas where you can see them up close through glass as well and my son was super excited to see the lion up close and roar at him. (My kid roaring at the lion, you read that right)

Some of the other really cool guys that kids and adults are sure to love are the large apes.  Zoo Miami had orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees that always seem to be ready to entertain.  We almost missed the orangutan hiding out in the tree, but there he was, looking like he was either waking up from or settling in for a nap.  The gorillas looked as if they were observing people in the same fashion as the humans were watching them.  Then there were the chimps.  One of the bigger ones in particular was extremely animated.  I’m pretty sure the tram that runs through the park were aggitating him (earlier I had watched the Pigmy Hippo go plowing through its habitat like a bulldozer when the tram approached) and every time the tram went by he would scream, run full speed, and punch anything in his path.

In “Asia”, we saw a variety of animals from that part of the world like the Malayan Sun Bear (named for the “sun” on its chest), the Clouded Leopard, the Malayan Tapir, the Asian Small-Clawed Otter, the Onager, and many others.  The big hit (literally) or Asia are the Asian Elephants.  A little smaller that their African cousins, the Asian Elephant can live up to 60 years.  Sadly, they have been hunted onto the Endangered Species list for their tusks, which are large on the males and anywhere from small to non existant on the females.

“Africa” was surely my favorite part of the park.  Home to Gazelle, the Greater Kudu, Ostrich, the mysterious Okapi, both Grants and Grevy’s Zebras (Grevy’s is the largest of the Zebra family, reaching a whopping 9 feet tall), Giraffes, African Elephants, and much more, there is plenty here to be seen.  The Okapi, which many people assume is related to the Zebra with it’s striped legs, is actually closely related to the Giraffe.  The critically endangered Black Rhino. The African Elephant is sure to make you feel tiny.  But the hilight of Africa has to be the Giraffe…

My sons absolute favorite part of the entire zoo, be sure not to miss out on feeding the Giraffes!  While they are huge and have crazy, long purple tongues, they’re incredibly gentle and seem to love taking treats from zoo goers.  They have the freedom to come and go as they please as the feeding station is off to the side of their habitat and when it gets busy zoo staff only allow so many people on the feeding deck at one time, which is nice for when you’re feeding them and not trying to compete with someone shoving their handful of food in front of yours.  Their long tongues, which usually wrap around leaves up high in trees, will gently wrap around their hands and take the lettuce away.

Over in “Australia”, you’ll find animals like the Red Kangaroo, New Guinea Singing Dog, and others.  The Koala had to have been the cutest resident in this part of the park.  Sure, they don’t do much, in fact every time I see one it’s sleeping, but I can’t get over how absolutely precious they are!

All over the park, you’ll find wonderful, fascinating animals.  There are many different types of mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish to see.  You can watch the White Handed Gibbons swing from trees, watch the Lemurs clean each other, enter one of two aviarys and walk amongst the birds, and still manage to miss something!  This zoo is huge!

Another great area of the zoo you shouldn’t miss out on if the interactive Childrens Zoo.  Here, you can feed Goats at the Petting Zoo safely from the outside of the fence or go inside and grab a brush and groom them.  There are a lot of other zoo animals here too like Sheep, Pigs, and Ponies.  Also in this area you will find Camel rides, educational areas where kids can pet animals like Guinea Pigs, and a Reptile House where you can press your face against the glass of all the creepy crawlies you want.

Of course, there is also more to do here than just the animals.  There is also a Dinosaur playland for the kids to burn off some energy, paddle boat rentals, and Splash Pads to play in on hot days.  There are adorable animal statues all across the zoo as well that are perfect climbing size for kids and make for great photo ops.  You have a few transportation options as well.  You can ride the monorail across the park, take the tram, or even rent carts in the front of the park.  It’s something to consider for sure as this place really is massive.

Photos taken with my Nikon D3100

IF YOU GO:

First and foremost, as stated above, be careful not to get peed on by a Rhino!

Go early in the day, the animals are more active and the crowds are much less.  We felt like we were having a VIP experiece with how little people traffic we encountered.  If you can go on a cooler day, you’ll be extremely greatful.

There are several concession areas inside the park.  The food is surprisingly good and not greasy at all.  You are not allowed to bring in your own food, but there is a picnic area at the enterance to the zoo if you wish to pack your own.

Consider renting one of the carts.  It basically looks like a golf cart and a bicycle had a love child, but it might save you a lot of energy with walking, and it can fit several people, has front row seats for the little ones, and you’re even able to store things on top like a stroller if you wish.

You can learn more about Zoo Miami here… http://www.miamimetrozoo.com/visit-the-zoo.asp

Have as much fun as we did!

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