As a child I looked forward to zoo outings either with my family or school. I just loved seeing all the animals and for me this was very exiting! My favorites were big cats and seals. The other day I came across an old photo album filled with seal pictures that I had taken as a young girl. There were dozens and on some photos the seals heads were missing but they found a place in my album regardless. Zoos were the only place where I could see and observe exotic animals and this is where my appreciation for these majestic creatures was born.
Nowadays, zoos are often a controversial topic but for some this might be where their love affair with animals and perhaps their desire to protect them will ignite, like it did for me…
About an hour north from us is the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society
A bit of history
Starting in the 1950s with modest beginnings of a red barn and a few farm animals, the zoo housed residents with a colorful history including an escape artist kangaroo that became an honorary Boy Scout member among other things, read more here
Thanks to many generous donations, the zoo now spans 23 acres and welcomes about 300,000 visitors a year. You can find a wide variety of animals including bears, big cats (jaguar, tiger, panther, cougar), small wild cats (ocelot, caracal, lynx), a koala, and a wide variety of monkeys and birds. Of course there are many native Floridian creatures too including alligators and tortoises and a beautiful flamingo park.
Facilities and admission cost
Admission is about 12$ with children’s and senior’s discounts. The park is open daily from 9 am-5 pm, and you should plan anywhere from 2-4 hours for your visit. There are numerous workshops and feeding or informative events throughout the day – you will also find vending machines with water and sodas as well as a number of concession stands and a gift shop.
We did find the attractions nicely appointed with one area setup with Mayan statues and monuments, another in a Wild West log cabin style, and yet another in a 50’s gas station scene. Not sure what the animals think of this but it made for some interesting backdrops for photos. Perhaps these are part of the zoos history.
Our visit in the heat of mid July was both hot for us and we also found the animals looking for shade and slow moving due to the heat. We would recommend an early morning or late afternoon (last entry at 4:30 pm) visit, perhaps in the colder months to enjoy the attraction and animals more. For those who intend to return often, season’s passes are also available.
We are not sure of the provenance of the animals and whether they are rescued, born at the zoo or how they were acquired. We ourselves love to know a little more and would have appreciated signs detailing some info about how the animals came to be at the zoo. Perhaps, it was available and we missed it in our effort to get through the attraction in the heat of midday.
For many people, the zoo may be as close as they will ever get to some of these beautiful creatures in their lifetime. While we love seeing them and photographing them, there remains a lingering sadness in us at their predicament of being caged in and on display. Even if life spans may be longer when cared for and diets may be healthier, those of us lucky enough to have seen these creatures in the wild in their natural habitats running freely will understand how special that experience truly is. If you have not done this and are an animal lover, do put it on your bucket list and if you’re like us you will be moved!