Brevard Zoo: A Small Zoo That Does BIG Things!

The result of a concerted community effort, the Brevard Zoo opened in 1994.

I headed over to Melbourne the other day to visit the Brevard Zoo which (they say) “is a small zoo that does big things.” It’s not massive; it’s a manageable 50 acres where nearly 600 animals from 165 species are lazing, grazing, perched or rambling in a variety of habitats.

Although my timing was a bit off (stop-and-go showers found animals seeking shelter), even when the animals were out of sight, I was content just reading extremely clever signage that’s creepy/cool for kids and informative/entertaining for adults. For instance, I stepped on a scale at the vulture exhibit and learned it’d take 66 days for my body to rot into bones in the jungle if left undisturbed, but when vultures pitch in, the process takes less than two days.

Allow about a half-day to see the zoo, taking your time in the four loops: Expedition Africa, Australia/Asia, Wild Florida and La Selva where you’ll see giraffes, cheetahs, lemurs, kangaroos, emus, wallabies, cockatiels, kookaburras, river otters, alligators, white rhinos, ostriches, crocodiles, tamarins, bald eagles, warty pigs, tapirs, red-tailed hawks and dozens of other species. You can board the Cape to Cairo Express train for a round trip, take a guided kayak tour through the wetlands, or on the African river, do the Treetop Trek aerial obstacle course and zipline, and drop in at Paws On Play, the petting zoo/playground.

Oh! Don’t miss the exhibit of bonsai trees. Many are a half-century old and are cared for by botanists with infinite patience. Last thing: Before you go, be sure to visit their website to learn about special programs like the kid-focused Wildlife Detective Training Academy.

Man, there’s a lot of stuff here. Like they say, it’s a small zoo that does big things. Perhaps the biggest is reminding us that all wildlife serves a purpose in this web of existence.

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