I was pleasantly surprised by the Jacksonville Zoo during a recent visit! I had never been before and for some reason I had low expectations, but it’s quite large and well-kept. There is so much to do and see, with more animals than I was expecting.
Tickets range from $30-35 for adults with free parking, which I don’t think is too bad. It wasn’t too busy during my visit on a weekend, although it was still quite hot. The Jax Zoo hosts several special events throughout the year as well, like a Halloween celebration in October and “Zoo Lights” for the Christmas season.
One of my favorite exhibits was the “Wild Florida” exhibit, where you can spot alligators and see manatees in the rehabilitation center. The Jax Zoo is home to a Marine Mammal Response Team, with the capability to rescue and transport injured marine mammals to rehabilitation centers in Florida, including a Manatee Critical Care Center on-site. Manatees are my favorite animals so I was very excited to see the care center! I wish that we were allowed to go inside and tour the care center, but I understand why visitors aren’t allowed.
Nearby is the Africa section. In Africa, you can see elephants, rhinos, antelopes, an entire reptile building, and the “Stingray Bay.” The Bay is a free area where you can touch or feed stingrays! They were very friendly and interactive with guests.
In between Africa and South America are the giraffes, which you can feed! I love that there are so many interactive areas, like the Stingray Bay and Giraffe Overlook.
One spot that I thought was really cool is the African Forest section, which is home to a variety of different monkeys. There seems to be quite a bit of interactive things for the monkeys to play with, including several climbing trees and overlooks. I’d never seen climbing trees or overlooks like these at other zoos or parks, so I thought that it was cool.
In South America, you can try to spot one of the several jaguars, walk through the Emerald Forest Aviary, as well as find a few food options. Across the way is the Play Park, with a playground, carousel and splash ground – but also a frozen ice stand. During my visit, it was very hot so the frozen ice was much appreciated.
The Asia garden section was beautiful! There was a large koi pond with beautiful statues and landscaping, called the Asian Bamboo Gardens. In this section, you’ll find komodo dragons, tigers, otters and a few other animals. I wasn’t able to get any good photos of them – except one of my favorites, the otters!
In the Australia section, there is a pretty “river plaza” and Amphibian Conservation Center, as well as a Lorikeet Aviary, but I believe that you have to pay for the aviary. I also found this insane prehistoric-looking bird (seen below) – how crazy is this bird?!
There’s also a train that goes around the entire park if you get tired of walking, but it’s an extra fee. Definitely wear comfortable walking shoes to this zoo as it’s quite spread out; I probably walked a few miles. If you have kids, I would recommend bringing a stroller. Also, wear sunscreen! There are many sections that are entirely in the sun so please be aware of the intense Florida sun.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Jacksonville Zoo! I thought that it was fun, well-kept, and interactive. I imagine that it’s a really fun place to take kids or the entire family!
Thank you for reading! Do you like the Jax Zoo? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!