The Brevard Zoo
Where can you kayak and go past a pair of camels in Florida? Well, we’ve done it and know it is at the Brevard Zoo on Florida’s Spacecoast. The Spacecoast is best known, of course, for the Kennedy Space Center and NASA. That visit will be part of another story.
It consists of a a series of beach towns on the barrier islands as well as some nice towns on the mainland. The primary towns would include Melbourne, Titusville, Cocoa, Cocoa Beach and Satellite Beach. There are others but from what I could tell, these are the most interesting.
The Brevard Zoo is located in Viera – and in fact doesn’t even show up on the interactive map on the Spacecoast Convention and Visitor’s Bureau uses unless you specifically click the option of seeing attractions. So it might go unnoticed to you. There wasn’t a brochure in the hotel we were staying either.
But trust me, it is well worth finding it! Don’t let the lack of visibility fool you. This is one attraction that packs a lot in and it is well beyond what I expected. The zoo is organized around a central roundabout with each themed area located off it or around it. We’re not animal experts – just your casual Floridians playing tourist so I may not have a lot of specifics. This is more about our experience than anything.
We ventured into the Africa section first, passing a really nice display of bonsai along the way. It is most interesting because your eye is caught by giraffes and as I walked up the wooden pathway I found myself at the railing with a giraffe directly in front of me – I could have touched it.
For some reason this completely delighted me and I felt like a kid. There were about half a dozen of them and they had apparently just finished eating. I couldn’t believe how up close and personal we could get. There were smaller (presumably a baby) giraffes too. There is an option to actually feed the giraffes!
Also in this area were some rhinos which were really cool. Again, it was nice to be able to get up close to them – although certainly we couldn’t reach out and touch those! There were also Lemurs – an island full of them. It was so intriguing to watch them – and we had been to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa only a few months before. There were volunteers who answered our questions and engaged us in conversation. This had to be the friendliest zoo ever!
As we were leaving the giraffe bit we saw that you could rent a kayak and take a guided tour around the island which we couldn’t wait to do. We did a tandem kayak and our guide was very informative and entertaining. It was perfectly safe for anyone who had never kayaked – though we’ve certainly done our share of kayaking. We really enjoyed it and at one point there were a pair of camels along the bank of the water that were just stunning.
The option to get away from people and kayak around an island with wild exotic islands is super cool. You don’t want to miss this part when you go. In all it couldn’t have been more than about thirty or forty minutes of kayaking – and it was nice and slow – and just the right amount of shade.
After the Africa section we went to Australia and Asia where we encountered a lot of birds that were incredibly beautiful in a series of aviary type structures. It was, again, amazing that you could get so close to these birds – in many cases actually holding them. It was this area that I found an emu and some warty pigs that were just adorable.
There is a cafe and a train station nearby but we didn’t get a chance to do either of those. There’s plenty of picnic tables and an area for groups too. We went directly to Wild Florida where, despite living in Florida over 25 years each, we found it interesting and pleasant. We saw alligators, otters, a bald eagle (stunning), a fox and more. There was also a large wetlands area you could hire a paddle boat and go around – which we didn’t do but would certainly be something well worth doing for any visitor.
The next area we went to was called La Selva, or the Rainforest. It was fascinating too with lots of monkeys. I must admit that the creature I most couldn’t stop looking at was the giant anteater. There were several of them and they were completely mesmerizing. There were a lot of other animals (sloths, a jaguar, tapir plus many other birds – all interesting).
There is another section called Paws On which unfortunately we weren’t able to visit and it has a petting section adjacent to it. This area includes aquatic life. We will have to go back to see this! Overall, it was a wonderful experience visiting the zoo. The educational programs look terrific and it is very easy to spend hours walking and not realize where the time is going.
One of the coolest things here we didn’t get a chance to do but will return and do if for sure and that’s the zip line course that is offered. We witnessed people having a lot of fun on this and it looked incredibly exciting. It covers a lot of ground and is thrilling in parts from what we witnessed. Well worth a go of it!
There’s plenty of free parking and admission is very reasonable and well worth it. If you are a local or even regional resident, you should definitely opt for an annual pass. The entire zoo is non-smoking and extremely friendly for children and we observed a lot of families interacting and having fun (and learning at the same time).
Of course we exited through the zoo store and had to spend some money there – there are a lot of really nice products with a great educational value. If you’re ever in the area, this is well worth a visit. Happy travels whether it is in your own backyard or abroad – make the most of it all.