One of the first free-range zoos in the United States is home to animals, exhibits, amusement rides and a strong focus on education and conservation.
Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens, or Zoo Miami, houses tree kangaroos, pygmee hippos and Orinoco crocodiles, among other rare animal species. This is a lush animal kingdom, where a over 2,000 wild animals roam freely among 1,200 plants in expansive natural habitats. The three miles (five kilometers) of walkways cover only part of the 740-acre (300-hectare) reserve.
What started in 1948 as Crandon Park Zoo, with three monkeys, a goat and two black bears from a stranded road show, grew to become Miami Metrozoo in 1980. It was named Zoo Miami in 2010 after years of expansion and, before that, rebuilding from Hurricane Andrew.
Zoo Miami plays an important role in animal conservation, housing and breeding 40 endangered species. Observe the protected animals, listen to howler monkeys and feed a giraffe to get even closer to nature. The zoo focuses on education and the many displays provide interesting facts about all animals.
Bring your kids to a living classroom, an engaging way to learn about animals in their natural habitat. Daily shows include the Critter Corner at Sami Amphitheater at noon and Meet the Zookeeper talks throughout the day at the various exhibits. The park offers day camps for children, and adults can sign up to become Zookeeper For A Day over the weekend.
Rent a Safari Cycle to move the whole family around the zoo. If you have difficulty walking rent a stroller or wheelchair. Board the monorail to explore the zoo from the comfort of an air-conditioned cabin. Or, tour the Asian and African exhibits during a Safari Tram ride.
Zoo Miami is located in the south end of Crandon Park, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of downtown Miami. Drive a car here or take public transport. It’s open every day of the year.