A Visit to Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Sanford had us out recently for a visit! Perfect for a day out with family, let’s dive into what you can expect when visiting the zoo!

Conveniently located off the I-4 by Lake Monroe, Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is a short drive from Orlando proper. The property is surrounded by beautiful trees, and features over 350 animals, botanical gardens, a splash pad, a miniature train ride, zipline course, and more!

There are also various animal encounters available – you can feed giraffes, get up close with a rhino at the rhinoceros encounter, and feed barn animals such as sheep and goats at the Barnyard Buddies Children’s Petting Zoo. Keeper chats are held twice daily, so if you want to learn even more about the animals, make sure to check the Keeper Chat schedule when you arrive.

Our first stop when we arrived was the Herpetarium. This area is home to reptiles such as snakes and lizards, and outside the Herpetarium you can also find crocodiles, alligators, and tortoises! I loved that this area featured animals that call Central Florida home – it’s always a great idea to learn about your local wildlife.

Continuing along the path, we got to see bald eagles up close! It was pretty amazing to see our national symbol so close. My kids especially appreciated the clear paneling in the fence so they could see the bald eagles too! This is a great feature that makes the Central Florida Zoo accessible for all ages.

Next we came across a sign indicating there were bears up ahead! Rounding the corner, we came across the black bear exhibit. This was really neat as we were able to get right up close to their exhibit. I think it’s the closest I’ve ever been to a bear! A keeper was there to answer any questions we had, and my kids enjoyed watching the bears up close.

After our encounter with the black bears, we came across the rhinoceros exhibit! Once again we were able to get right up to the edge of the exhibit, and my kids liked watching the rhino eat and wade into the pool.

Near the rhinoceros is a playground, and my kids love a good playground so we had to stop and check it out! Like the rest of the zoo, the playground is shaded by large trees, and there is some bench seating available for parents and caregivers.

There’s also a snack bar nearby, so this is a great place to take a midday break! As we sat on a bench watching our kids play, we noticed some movement in the trees behind us… we turned around and saw a giraffe eating leaves from the nearby trees! It was a pretty cool experience to be with our kids on a playground with a giraffe so close.

After our kids burned off some of their energy we went over to see the giraffes. We were right up close to them and my kids loved seeing them. There were a couple keepers nearby to answer questions, and you could also feed the giraffes here! Near the giraffe was a cute garden area with different flowers and plants. My son liked pointing out the signs and learning about the different plants he was seeing.

Next up we visited the Barnyard Buddies Children’s Petting Zoo. My daughter loves animals and was really excited to get up close to them. Here, you can visit with familiar farm animals such as sheep, alpaca, goats, chickens, and more!

After the petting zoo, we heard a loud bird call and we had to go investigate. We found the sound to be coming from a hornbill! We stopped and listened to the hornbill for quite a bit and we were all surprised how loud it was. Our final stop for the day was to see the warthogs. When we visited their exhibit, a keeper was feeding them and answering questions.

Overall, we were impressed with our visit to the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens! We appreciated the emphasis on learning about animals local to the area as well as from around the world, and we loved how close we could get to the exhibits.

It was such a great learning opportunity for our kids! We also loved how accessible the property is – the walkways are entirely stroller-friendly, there are plenty of snack bars throughout the grounds, and the clear panels on the fences made it easy for little ones to see. It is a very family-friendly, inclusive experience and we can’t wait to go back again!

Thank you once again to the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens for having us!

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