Unmissable Animal Attractions in Florida
POSTED BY Leon | August 28, 2014
Label: Adventure Travel, Holidays to Orlando, Travel Tips
Florida may boast an array of the world’s finest theme parks but it also home to a selection of fantastic animal attractions. After a busy few days exploring the various theme parks of the Orlando area, getting acquainted with some of Florida’s wildlife might be just what you need. With fewer tourists choosing to visit Sea World after recent controversy, we’ve picked some alternative animal attractions to enjoy in Florida.
Lion County Safari
Lion County Safari is Florida's only drive-through safari – think Longleat without the stately home - and is found in Loxahatchee between Orlando and Miami near the east coast. There are over 900 animals to see; as you’d expect from the name, lions are abundant, as are zebras, giraffes and chimpanzees.
The big game wildlife section of the park is navigated by car and is divided into seven distinct sections representing different parts of the world. The ‘Gorongosa Reserve’ is home to the park’s African lions and the Hwange National Park is home to white rhinoceros and zebra amongst others. There are also all sorts of colourful birds to see including: parrots, macaws, flamingos and hornbills, plus an extensive collection of reptiles.
Everglades National Park
For a real walk on the wild side that lets you experience Florida’s untamed nature at its best, the Everglades National Park in the deep south of the state is the place to go. The sprawling Everglades is spread across 1.5 million acres. It is the largest subtropical wilderness in the USA and is renowned for its population of endangered species like American crocodiles, alligators, manatees and Florida panthers. The area is also home to dolphins, butterflies and a plethora of wading birds such as flamingos.
It’s possible to kayak and canoe through various parts of the Everglades to take in mangrove tunnels, lakes, prairies and ponds. The best time to visit is between December and April when the Everglades are at their driest and temperatures are cooler than in summer. The easiest way to access the Everglades from the UK is via Miami which sits just to the east of the park.
Manatee Springs State Park
As its name suggests, this state park is the perfect place to get acquainted with the gentle manatee (sea cow). The area around the spring itself is a popular area for snorkellers and scuba divers to swim with the endangered marine animals. This is particularly good in winter when West Indian manatees swim up river and congregate towards the source of the spring.
The state park is located in north east Florida, around two hours from Orlando. Camping in the park is possible, as is cycling, hiking through the redwood forests. It’s possible to canoe and boat in several sections of the water.
Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Garden
Located near Sandford on Lake Monroe, around 25 minutes north of Orlando, Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Garden combines fascinating sights from the animal and botanical worlds. It is home to over 500 animals and over 200 different species. Some of the most interesting animals include: Bald Eagles, King Vultures, Clouded Leopards, Indian Rhinos and Poison Dart Frogs. A new giraffe exhibit was added in February alongside an expanded rhino enclosure.
Aside from the animal attractions, there’s also an Aerial Adventure Course including zip lines, suspended disks and rope bridges between the tree tops. There are also regular events throughout the week and on weekends that visitors can get involved with. Storytime at the Zoo is a regular favourite which gives pre-school kids the chance to meet zoo animals.
Have you visited any of these attractions? Let us know below.