Adventures of Gus and Kim: Don't miss the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens!

Do you love animals? So do we! Visiting zoos is one of our favorite things to do, and we took the opportunity to go to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens when we were in Florida earlier this month.


We are members of our local zoo, so we were able to get 50% off the regular admission price at Jacksonville Zoo. We upgraded to the Total Experience tickets, which included admission to the Park, Dinosauria, the Carousel, 4D Theater, Campground Critters, and the train.

The zoo is laid out a little differently than other zoos we've visited. It has a Main Path which runs straight through the zoo from one end to the other. Off that, there are many smaller paths that lead to exhibits.

woman and cat
Cat in Campground Critters show

When we arrived, it was almost time for a Campground Critters show, so we decided to head over that way and see that first. (Of course, it was as far away from the entrance as you can get! Ha!) It's a 20 minute outdoor show that has the stage set up like a kids camp. They have all sorts of animals performing tricks that help "set up" camp. We saw ducks, macaws, dogs, cats, a porcupine, an owl, an emu, a cockatoo, and more. It was so much fun! The best part? Every animal in the show is a rescue animal!

emu and woman
Emu in Campground Critters show

After the show, we walked through the lorikeet and frog exhibits, and made our way back to the main path. They're building a new Great Ape exhibit, so unfortunately, we couldn't see the apes. If you look at the photo below, you can see part of the new exhibit being built behind the HUGE succulent.

large succulent
Large succulent (with ape habitat construction in back)

We were starving, so we stopped at the Trout River Grille and had traditional zoo fare - hot dogs and chips. I thought the food was reasonably-priced - two hot dogs, two bags of chips, and two bottles of water was just under $15.

Alligator in Wild Florida exhibit

After eating, we walked through the Wild Florida exhibit where we saw alligators, bald eagles, a bobcat, coyotes, manatees, and more!

bald eagle
Bald eagle in Wild Florida exhibit

Next up was a train ride, which took us through the entire park. There are train stations at both ends of the Main Path, so you can get on/off at either one. (The photo below is blurry because it was taken with Snapchat on my phone, and it was a bit dark aboard the train!)

woman & man
On train ride

After the train ride, we decided to walk the Africa Loop. We saw cheetahs, warthogs (Pumbaa and his family!), rhinos, and a ton of white storks that nesting in a tree! (At least I think they were storks!) So many baby birds! Gus went in the reptile house while I had a bathroom break, and then we went on to see the elephants, leopards, and lions.

Rhino in the Plains of East Africa exhibit

stork with nest
Storks in the Plains of East Africa exhibit

Lappet-faced vulture in the Africa exhibit

We walked through the Savanna Blooms Garden on our way to the Giraffe Overlook. There were some little ones having a blast feeding the giraffes.

tropical trees and plants
Savanna Blooms Garden

Giraffes at Giraffe Overlook

We decided to see the Land of the Tiger Loop next, which was at the other end of the zoo. This exhibit sits along the Trout River, so there are beautiful views. They have an amazing tiger habitat! We talked to one of the zoo employees and he told us that every morning, they give the tigers a choice of going into the open area or on the walkways - which are up above the pathways and loop around into the open areas. He said that they almost always choose the walkways. I'm not sure how many tigers they have in all, but we saw two adults and two cubs. The cubs were fun to watch - they were playing!

Mama tiger in the Land of the Tiger exhibit

tiger cubs
One of the tiger cubs in the Land of the Tiger exhibit

At this point, we were both exhausted and hot (it was in the 90's that day), so we opted to take the train back to the main entrance. From there, we went to Stingray Bay, where they have a touch tank filled with cownose rays, bluntnose rays, Atlantic rays, and guitarfish. You can feed the stingrays for $2, so Gus did!

Gus feeding the stingrays at Stingray Bay

We decided to take a quick walk through the Dinosauria exhibit (which is there through July 7). I wanted to take pictures for my great-nephew, who is two and loves dinosaurs. You walk through a winding path that has different areas with buildings set up like Jurassic World. When you get to the entrance to the "park", you see many animatronic dinosaurs just off the path as you walk through.

One of the dinosaurs in the Dinosauria exhibit

We couldn't believe it was time for the zoo to close! We had figured we would spend a couple of hours, but we ended up being there almost 5 hours! There were a few exhibits that we missed, so we will want to stop by again when we're in the area.

If you're visiting the Jacksonville area and love animals, we recommend visiting the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. It's a great way to spend the day and learn more about the animals of the world! And if you have a membership at another zoo, be sure to see if you're eligible for 50% off admission at Jacksonville!

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
370 Zoo Parkway
Jacksonville, Florida  32218

Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm
Saturday & Sunday 9am - 6pm

Have you been to the Jacksonville Zoo? What's your favorite zoo? I'm making a list of zoos to visit, so let me know in the comments below, on Instagram, or Snapchat!


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