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The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a simply stunning place to visit. Whether you’re looking for someplace new to visit during your Orlando vacation, or you’re a local looking to break out from quarantine without going to the theme parks, the Zoo has protective measures in place, plenty of easy walking trails, and of course, dozens and dozens of adorable, interesting, and exotic animals.
Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens invited us to visit as press. All opinions are my own.
Covid-19 Prevention Measures at the Zoo
Before we talk about what the zoo offers, let’s ease your mind a bit about the Covid-19 prevention measures the Central Florida Zoo and Botantical Gardnes are taking.
From their site:
- The Zoo is open daily from 9 AM to 3 PM.
- The number of guests entering the Zoo each day will be limited to ensure proper social distancing.
- All guests entering the Zoo – including Annual Pass Holders – must have a dated and timed online ticket.
- Starting Monday, June 29, the use of face coverings or masks is required for all guests 13 and older. Face masks and coverings are still recommended for all visitors under the age of 13.
Due to limited capacity within the Zoo, we are asking all guests to purchase tickets online, in advance. Tickets are valid for the date and time selected. No refunds or rainchecks.
GENERAL ADMISSION TICKETS:
- To help ensure we are not exceeding our capacity, timed tickets must be purchased online, in advance of your visit.
- All guests will have to purchase a ticket online for each member of their party for a designated day and time slot. Children 2 and under are free but still require a ticket.
- Ticket prices are inclusive of applicable tax. No additional discounts are available for tickets purchased online.
- To allow for contactless admission, tickets will be sent to your email and tickets can be scanned directly off of your phone, from that email.
What to See at the Central Florida Zoo
First and foremost, it’s a zoo! What to see includes an extraordinary list of animals. When we visited, it was the first time we’d ever been to this zoo. I was pleasantly surprised by not only the number of sights to see but also simply stunning botanical gardens. More on that in a bit.
At the zoo, you will see:
- Poison Dart Frogs
- Tiger Salamander
- Amazon Milk Frog
- African Bullfrog
- White’s Tree Frog
- Eastern Screech Owl
- Harris’s Hawk
- Bald Eagles
- Guira Cuckoo
- Magpie Jays
- Amur Leopard
- Florida Black Bear
- Spider Monkey
- and so many more!
The gardens and landscaping impressed me the most throughout the park. The entire park is a world away from skyscrapers and traffic. Here you get an authentic Florida landscape experience.
To begin with, the landscape brings tall oaks, draping moss, and expansive ferns along every walkway. Additionally, throughout the zoo is a butterfly garden, cactus gardens, bromeliad, and fern collections. I enjoyed the gardens and landscaping almost as much as I did the animals.
Location & Hours
The Central Florida Zoo is located off of I-4 at 3755 W. Seminole Blvd, in Sanford, FL. Currently, the road is closed for construction, however, they do allow entry to the zoo.
They are open daily from 9 am to 3 pm.
As mentioned above, you do need to select the date and time of your visit in order for the zoo to maintain proper distancing.
- Adults: $19.50
- Seniors 60+: $15.95
- Children 3-12 years: $13.75
- Children 2 and under: Free
Make sure you buy your tickets in advance to secure your time slot and entry into the park. This also makes ticketless entry and social distancing easier.
Why visit the Central Florida Zoo now?
The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens are taking measures to keep safe, yet educate and entertain their guests seriously. During our visit, we rarely felt crowded and there were times we were the only people in the area. The venue itself is incredibly lush, attractive, and an easy-to-enjoy walk.
If you’re looking for something different to do, yet still enjoyable and safe for the whole family, walking around the zoo and botanical gardens is a fantastic option. For us, it was a nice respite from our everyday life. We enjoyed our outing, spending time together as a family, and learning about the various animals throughout the park.
Plus, with the size of the zoo is incredibly manageable. Above all, we truly got up close and personal with the animals. And if you have smaller kids, this is an easy to manage attraction.
Some of the encounters and experiences are limited right now, however, this did not take away from our pleasant outing.
The Central Florida Zoo has lost out on $1.5 million dollars through ticket purchases, field trips, spring break, etc. if COVID-19 didn’t force closures and quarantine. Their goal is to raise $500k by the end of August and another $1 million by the end of the year. It costs approximately $500k each month just to operate the zoo.
This is an open-air venue with plenty of space for social distancing and to come out and support the zoo. The Central Florida Zoo has been around since the 1920s so it truly is a Central Florida staple.
A donation to the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens Relief Fund will provide us with the critical funding we need right now. The Zoo remains committed to providing exceptional animal care, engaging programming, high-quality customer service, and experiences that excite and inspire adults and children to learn and act on behalf of wildlife. But it is only with your help and investment that we can remain an institution in Central Florida.