Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (370 Zoo Pkwy., 904/757-4462, www.jaxzoo.org, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, extended summer hours, $12 adults, $10 seniors, $7.50 children, children under 3 free) is a moderately-sized zoo located north of downtown Jacksonville. Covering 110 acres and providing a home for 2,000 animals, the zoo’s marquee attraction is its Range of the Jaguar exhibit.
Taking home an award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for Exhibit of the Year in 2005, Range of the Jaguar makes it exceedingly easy for guests to gawk at Jacksonville Zoo’s six jaguars as they lounge around, which is most of the time, or fish for food in several pools of water. The exhibit’s South American theming extends to an aviary and reptile house.
Another exceptional and somewhat underplayed exhibit is the Australian Adventure. Obnoxiously sponsored by Outback Steakhouse, it’s nonetheless a great opportunity to see wallabies and kangaroos, and as in many other zoos, there’s a free-flying aviary where guests can feed lorikeets. A substantial primate exhibit and the Wild Florida exhibit are also worth checking out.
Jacksonville Zoo has two middling restaurants and a couple of snack bars in case you get hungry, and a children’s play area with a small water park and petting farm.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition