Zoos in South Florida
There is no shortage of places to visit wildlife in Florida, thanks in part to the many wildlife sanctuaries dotting the east and west coast of the Sunshine State. With that being said, there are definitely some stand outs we thought our readers might enjoy, so here we are, showcasing a smattering of the finest places to view lions, tigers, and bear (oh my!) in sunny SoFlo.
Before we begin, just a quick caveat: this list of must-visit Zoos in Florida is by no means a complete list, nor is it listed in any particular order. Whether you are visiting South Florida with your family on vacation or have lived here your entire life, these animal attractions are all great places to visit critters of all shapes and sizes.
Zoo Miami in Miami, FL
Located in Miami, Florida, Zoo Miami – better known as the Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens – holds the distinction of being not only the largest and oldest zoological garden in Florida, but also the only sub-tropical zoo in the continental USA. The zoo and its exhibits feature animals from all walks of life, with a focus on Asian, Australian, and African wildlife.
Grouped according to geographic origins, the animals are allowed to live in an open-air environment that tries its best to mimic the critters native lands – right down to the trees, foliage, and even soil.
Animals you can expect to encounter at Zoo Miami: meerkats, African Elephants, African Lions, Asian Elephants, Rhinoceros, Malayan Tapir, Tree Kangaroo, Warthog, Gorillas, and the Somali Wild Ass.
Zoo Miami is located at 12400 SW 152 St., Miami, FL 33177. Call 305-251-0400 or visit https://www.zoomiami.org/ for more information!
Jungle Island in Miami, Florida
Another great zoo to visit while you are vacationing or visiting in Miami is Jungle Island. Dubbing itself an “eco-adventure theme park”, this hands-on zoo experience is nestled between downtown Miami and South Beach, making it an ideal place to visit during the day so that you can get a taste of the local night life in the afternoon.
Jungle Miami has been in operation for more than 80 years and proclaims itself to be more of a theme park than a zoo. This in part due to its interactive zoo exhibits, such as fan-favorite Lemur Interactions (where you interact with lemurs), Sloth Encounters (interaction with sloths), the Capybara Encounter, and the Flamingo Experience. They also feature a few VIP tours for those with a big budget that are looking for even more of a hands-on zoo adventure.
Animals you can expect to encounter at Jungle Island include Kangaroos, giant tortoises, a variety of birds and reptiles, capybara, sloths, and more.
Jungle Island is located at 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, Florida 33132. For more information call 305-400-7000 or visit the zoo’s website https://www.jungleisland.com/.
Sheriff’s Animal Farm in Key West, FL
Not your typical zoo by any stretch of the imagination, the Sheriff’s Animal Farm in Key West Florida is a quaint place to visit critters of all types, including those normally found on farm settings. The animals on the 20-year-old Sheriff’s Animal Farm are all owner surrender – meaning that the owners could no longer take care of them and so the farm – and inmates from the detention center – have assumed care of the wildlife and farm animals.
It is definitely a unique zoo experience for anyone visiting or vacationing in South Florida. Animals you can expect to encounter at Sheriff’s Animal Farm include horses, pigs, goats, chickens, rabbits, albino pythons, peacocks, llamas, and tortoises.
Sheriff’s Animal Farm is located at 5501 College Road, Key West, FL, 33040. For more information call 305-293-7300 or visit the South Florida Finds Sheriff’s Animal Farm listing.
Monkey Jungle in Miami, Florida
Although it is currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, we thought it was important to include this unique zoo experience on our list. Unlike most zoos or interactive animal sanctuaries, Monkey Jungle lets the animals in their wildlife park run free, while keeping their visitors where they belong – in a cage!
Created in 1935, the zoo prides itself as a 30-acre jungle park where visitors and scientists alike can get close and personal with monkeys in a natural subtropical forest. This Miami-Dade zoo has a number of simian exhibits, including the Wild Monkey Swimming Pool, Wings of Love aviary, Amazonian Rainforest trail, and – our favorite – the Cameroon Gorilla Forest.
As you might have guessed, animals you can expect to encounter at Monkey Jungle include Java Macaques, Squirrel Monkeys, Black-Capped Capuchins, Howler Monkeys, Gorillas, and a host of rescued parrots.
Monkey Jungle is located at 14805 SW 216th St., Miami, FL 33170 in Miami-Dade County. For more information, call 305-235-1611 or visit their website at https://www.monkeyjungle.com/.
Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, Florida
One of the best zoos in Palm Beach County has to be Lion Country Safari. Known the world over, this safari park allows visitors to have a safari experience on 600 acres of natural land. Over 1,000 animals reside at this “drive-thru zoo”, where you and your family get to drive through an open environment to get close and personal with wildlife from across the globe.
The safari has won many awards and distinctions, including being named one of the 10 Best Parks in America, Top Ten Amazing Zoos, Best Camping Site, Best Drive-Thru Safari, and is heralded as a top family-friendly activity in South Florida.
You can expect to encounter a wide variety of mammals, reptiles, birds, and critters of all types at Lion Country Safari, including Pygmy Goats, sloths, Siamangs, Giraffes, Monkeys, Pythons, Alligators, Turtles, Lions, Rhinos, Hippos, and many more.
Lion Country Safari is located at 2003 Lion Country Safari Road, Loxahatchee, Florida 33470 in Palm Beach County. For more information, call 561-793-1084 or visit their website at https://www.lioncountrysafari.com/.