Palm Beach Zoo

March 21, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Posted in For the Family | Leave a comment
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Another beautiful South Florida day means another perfect day at the zoo.  I know what you’re thinking.  “This girl goes to the zoo a lot!”  OK, guilty, I do.  I happen to live an hour or less from 3 great zoos and I have a 2 year old son, of course I do!  Plus, with annual passes, why not!  This AZA accredited zoo is a great place to spend just a few hours or the entire day. During the summer time I can promise you won’t see so many trips to the zoo.  But that’s not what this post is about, we’re here to talk about the animals we saw!

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The first direction we always head when entering this zoo is to the left.  Call it habit.  We love to see some of the zoos larger reptiles, including Mardi, the zoo’s White Alligator.  Seeing him is always very cool… My son loves alligators and this is one you’re able to see quite close, I always find myself amazed that Mardi is one of only 10 White Alligators in the world (truly white, not albino, they have blue eyes), making him an incredibly rare sight!

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There are a lot of other adorable and entertaining animals as you make your way into the zoo.  You’ll come across animals from the slow Sloth to two breeds of quick little Tamarins, colorful Macaws, and the always playful Ocelots.  Today the Ocelots we playing with whatever was nearby, chewing on bundles of plant debris and ambushing each other and they moved around their enclosure.

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In the Australian area of the zoo you’ll find some of coolest and cutest Aussie animals out there.  The New Guinea Singing Dogs aren’t always super active, but today we got lucky!  The pair actually approached the fence, tails wagging, and actually seemed genuinely interested in visitors.  The kids loved that they were able to get so close and the dogs even licked their hands through the safety of the fence, we even got to hear one “sing”.  You’ll also see Wallaby’s and Australian water fowl when you enter their habitat, being separated by a mere gate on the boardwalk.  The Australian Birds habitat features some of the islands famous feather species.  On this particularly cool day we watched at the Red Kangaroo did absolutely nothing.  Sounds exciting, right?  It was actually quite adorable, it laid itself out in the sun as if it were a tourist laying out at the beach.  And of course, the Australian Exhibits main focal, Oz and Abby the Koalas.  Palm Beach Zoo was chosen by the AZA to participate in the Koala Species Survival Plan, recieving this adorable pair in hopes that they will reproduce.  Their enclosure is fronted with glass, allowing people to get a close look at these precious little marsupials, and hopefully leaving them with a lasting impression to care and take action toward Koala conservation.

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The Asian area of the zoo has a good selection of critters from Asia, including the Howler Monkey who’s yells are rivaled only by my son and a walk through Asian Bird aviary with colorful birds from the continent.  The big feature of this area is obviously Asia’s famous big cats, the Tigers.  This May, Tiger Cubs Jaya, Bunga, and Penari will be celebrating their 2nd birthday.  Their births at the Palm Beach Zoo was a huge success for their breeding program and the zoo deserves a high five for taking such great care and ensuring the success of their program of this critically endangered species.  With any luck, they will continue with their success!

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Over in the Tropics of the Americas display you’ll find some wonderful animals from Central and South America.  Here you can see the beautiful resident Jaguar, check out the Nocturnal Animal Observation, and kids can take their pictures on structures in the Mayan Plaza.  When you cross the bridge you may catch a glimpse of Tapir’s swimming in the water and Patagonian Cavy’s lounging around.  Also be on the look out for Delilah, the zoos baby Giant Anteater.  Look carefully, that adult Anteater doesn’t have a hunched back, that’s actually little Baby Delilah hanging on her mothers back.

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Heading along our way, we walked past the Spider and Capuchin Monkey Islands.  The sight on the Spider Monkey Island stopped me (and everyone else) in my tracks… a little bitty baby hanging on its mother.  It was too cute for words!  I watched as Momma Monkey climbed down the tree and over to the water to grab herself a drink.  Just as I thought for sure there was no way possible the sight could get any more adorable I was proven wrong.  Anyone who argues that animals don’t have emotional feelings needed to see the precious moment we watched.  Momma Monkey walked over to another monkey sitting alone and they threw their arms around each other and embraced in a monkey hug.  It was a moment I almost missed capturing on film because I was too busy “Awwwwwww”ing the precious moment between these two friends.

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Our last stop at the zoo was the Florida Wetlands area.  Here you can see on display our very own wildlife found here in Florida.  There is an aviary with Roseate Spoonbills and Scarlet Ibis, a pair of beautiful Bald Eagles, an Alligator display, and Florida Black Bears just to name a few.  A favorite of so many, including my son now and myself as a kid (and admittingly now) is the River Otter display where you can watch Otters swim and play and glide by you.  They seem to love an audience, even pressing against the glass when people gather to watch them.

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Naturally, no Florida display would be complete without the Florida Panther.  This endangered cat’s population is dangerously low in the wild with only around 100 cats remaining, though this is a serious improvement from the estimated 30 in the early 90’s.  Last march the zoo lost their Panther of 17 years, Colin Patrick, but were fortunate enough to add two new cats over the summer, both orphaned rescues.  The two here at Palm Beach Zoo are still considered kittens, and boy were they acting like it today! They were pouncing at each other, chasing one another, and climbing everything in their enclosures.  In case you’re looking at one of the above photos and thinking “Why is there trash in their enclosure?”, it’s not.  The cardboard box is part of the zoos enrichment program, giving the animals safe objects to play with they they don’t usually have within their enclosure, providing physical and mental exercise. They seemed to love it and be enjoying life.

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IF YOU GO:

This is a great zoo to visit and time of year.  During the summer it is well shaded and has a fountain the kids can play in.  They also offer special events throughout the year after regular hours like overnights and nighttime parties as well as birthday parties and weddings.  For more information, visit them here…

http://palmbeachzoo.org/

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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