Palm Beach Zoo
||Palm Beach, FL|
Print Leave a comment
Palm Beach Zoo is blessed with an incredible piece of land absolutely bursting with beauty and abundance. There are huge banyan and fig trees galore, and tropical plants of all kinds including some with giant leaves, growing up on the shores of large bodies of shimmering water. The zoo is a circular path with a few diversions, and is easy to follow for two hours or more. The animals are lucky to be in such nice enclosures, with a few exceptions (always sad to see and the reason I mostly avoid zoos).
For some reason, while my husband and I loved walking around the zoo, my 5 year old daughter was not impressed, and the others kids we encountered were also whining and discontent. This is possibly because the zoo was all about "looking" with no hands-on experiences like they have at the nature centers in Florida. Kids need flaps to lift, buttons to press, and things to climb! At one point, my daughter was more interested in playing with the buckle on her stroller than watching the gorgeous golden lion monkeys leaping around above us! The exhibits are also unsatisfying for kids because from an adult's height you only look through one wire fence but from a kid's height, they look through two. This sux for kids and I don't know why zoos aren't planned from their point of view! Honolulu Zoo is so lovely how kids can see a lot despite their short stature. So on the day I visited Palm Beach Zoo, the parents walking around looked very stressed and the kids sounded very whiny, but the single people seemed to be having fun!
There are some lovely animals at this zoo. The falmingoes with their orange-pink feathers are a delight, as are the spooky owls and scary vultures. There are furry black bears with a cool exhibit showing how tall a bear can stand (ten feet) compared to a human. The information by the American alligators is also very interesting, telling you how alligators have a reflective membrane in their eye that glows red that helps them see at night. It explains how they have evolved to ambush by having their eyes and nose high on their head so they can lie in wait below the surface of the water. When they lie in the sun their skin becomes almost black to absorb the heat but then returns to an olive color when they return to the shade.
There is a funny-looking Capybara, like a giant guinea pig, in the Americas section, as well as strange Bush dogs. A giant anteater sits with his furry back turned to passersby. Spider monkeys "hang around" by the lake along with Capuchin monkeys. There is a white alligator in his own shaded enclosure- he is like an albino that can't be in the sun. The Komodo dragon looks huge! The golden lion tamarins and cotton-top tamarins have a blast running along branches in their enclosure. There is a butterfly garden as well as plenty of aviaries and reptile houses, plus peacocks wander around the zoo freely. The emus look cool as do the kangaroos. The tiger has an enclosure with a waterfall and bamboo rustling in the breeze. The Aldabra tortoise is a giant, weighing hundreds of pounds- the zookeeper better watch her toes!
A few enclosures are too small- the African servals pace back and forth in a tiny enclosure and just break your heart. A huge space of empty land sits right across from their enclosure and one wonders why a large enclosure for them wasn't built there. The koalas, used to being in a eucalyptus forest, are surrounded by white walls and floor in a horrid enclosure with just a few fake tree trunks and a few leaves strung over them and poop all over the floor.
There is a cafe with reasonably priced, frozen-style (yuck) food situated in a lovely location on the lake. You can grab a bag of chips and relax for a minute. The carousel has zoo and native Floridian animals and is fun for kids. Bring $2 for the carousel token machine, plus quarters for the animal food machines that are spread out throughout the zoo. There is a huge interactive water fountain for kids to play in at the entrance to the zoo (a sign warns not to swallow the water though).
There are shows and zookeeper talks spread out through the day.
The most wonderful area of the zoo is the Tropics of the Americas area, made to look like the Mayan Riviera in Mexico with a cenote and magnificent sculptures such as a huge geometric ball and a reclining man. Reaching up to the sky is a stone temple carved with monstrous faces and patterns like at Chichen Itza. A large wood and rope suspension bridge leads over the water. It is lovely to walk around this area, though again, my daughter did not care about it! There are interesting panels here explaining the cultural practices in the Yucatan. This area inspires your imagination and makes you want to travel to Mexico!
In the same park, Dreher Park, is the South Florida Science Museum which is undergoing a renovation and should be promising when it looks more new and modern.
If you like animals, you may also enjoy Monkey Jungle in Homestead, inland from Miami. Or even better, feed the goats and cows in the petting zoo at D & D Family U-Pick Farm 45 minutes north in Palm City.
Photo GalleryClick on photo to see large version
Palm Beach Zoo is located at 1301 Summit Boulevard, West Palm Beach FL 33405, call (561) 533-0887.
Exit Highway 95 at Southern Blvd and head toward the ocean. Turn right on Parker Ave and right on Summit Blvd. Immediately turn right into the driveway for the zoo. Parking is free.
Open 9-5 daily. Closed on Thanksgiving (fourth Thurs in Nov) and Dec 25.
Admission is $19 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $13 for children aged 3-12.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating:
|A great zoo! Shady, beautiful, and fun! I took my guests from out of town with their kids and we had a memorable visit!|