Miami MetroZoo is fast becoming one of the best zoos in the nation. Its climate allows it to keep a wide variety of animals from Asia, Australia and Africa like no other zoo in the country. One of the first free-range zoos in the country, the exhibits are entirely cageless. Animals are grouped according to their geographic territory and animals that live together peacefully in the wild are placed in exhibits together. Other animals in the area are separated by moats. Looking out across the African plains, for example, you see the animals apparently co-mingling much as you would on a safari. The trees, foliage and even soil mimic as closely as possible the native habitat of the animals.
Among the newest members of the zoo are the critically endangered baby addux “Abacus” and a critically endangered baby black rhino. You can also see white tigers, gibbons, Cuban crocodiles and a komodo dragon, as well as the regular lions, tigers and bears. The coolest animal stunt is the painting elephant- a real elephant, armed with a paintbrush and easel, creating a masterpiece!
Feed a Giraffe
The Samburu Giraffe Feeding Station (open daily from 11AM-4PM) allows you to climb up and see a giraffe eye-to-eye. For a $2 fee, you’ll have the opportunity to reach out and feed these graceful creatures. They’ll take the food right out of your hand!
Wings of Asia Aviary
The American Bankers Family Aviary Wings of Asia is a testament to the variety of animals kept here; over 300 rare, endangered and exotic birds live in the largest open-air aviary in America, including the only known captive Sultan Tit in the western hemisphere. The exhibit of the aviary focuses on the link between the birds and dinosaurs. These creatures are closely related and it is believed that some of the birds in the aviary are direct descendents of the giants, once believed to be related solely to lizards.
Miami MetroZoo is also making a foray into the dramatic arts and culture with Zootroupia. Partnered with the Miami Performing Arts Center, actors will be presenting performances around the zoo at special times. At the time of writing, Sundays each week will bring Asian cultural performers to the Wings of Asia Aviary. But with the tag line of “All the Zoo’s a Stage”, the aviary is not the only place you’ll find them- the “Flying Squad” will perform unannounced at various locations around the zoo on Saturdays and Sundays, and you’ll never know what’s coming next. This is the first-ever production by the Performing Arts Center.
Hurricane Andrew’s Effects
When Hurricane Andrew destroyed the Country Walk area, the zoo lost many buildings and exhibits. Fortunately, most of the animals survived. While the top of the existing aviary blew off and many birds were lost, most were recaptured, and the number of animals that actually perished due to the storm was only about 20 out of 1,200.
Getting Around the Zoo
If you visit the zoo, be prepared for some walking. There are 300 acres of animal exhibits to see, on 740 acres of zoo property. If you’re not into walking this distance, a great way to see the zoo is renting one of the two- or four-seat bicycle carriages at the entrance. While they are convenient, there is an additional charge for the rental and on weekends they can be hard to get.
If it is summer, be assured that the zoo is one of the best outdoor options you can choose. With over 8,000 trees for shade and plenty of foliage, there are plenty of shaded rest areas along the paths. There are also misters along the walkway to provide a cool-down and fountains for the children. Children can also enjoy the new carousel, playground and petting zoo.