Photo Gallery | Jacksonville Zoo: SNOW SATURDAY!

"I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles." - Anne Frank (1929-1945),Entry in her diary, February 23, 1944


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If you have not visited the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens recently, then gather the family and plan your visit.  The last time our friends were there was about 15 years ago, just after the completion of the Main Entrance Convention and Meeting Center. 
I was just notified that the Jacksonville Zoo will hold a special "SNOW DAY" on Saturday, July 21, 2012.  Tons of snow will be trucked in for everyone to enjoy.  Sled riding will begin at 11:00 a.m. and end at 2:00 p.m. sharp.  In addition, there will plenty of games, prizes, music and dancing.  Sponsored by Bubba Burger.  For more information visit: http://www.jacksonvillezoo.org/events/event_details/2012/07/21/

Having traveled to quite a few zoos around the country, I would rate the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens as one of the "top" zoos in our nation.  With its luscious gardens and plenty of shade, the days of a flat, colorless, hot zoo are over.  Now, Jacksonville has a zoo and gardens that it can be truly proud to show visitors and guests.
 

Upon entering, be sure to obtain your Zoo Loop Directory.  That's your map for the day because there is so much foliage and greenery and weaving paths to exhibits that you can easily miss major attractions.  Your zoo adventure begins at the Main Camp and should start with the Africa Loop, which includes the Plains of East Africa and the Reptile Building.  We always prefer a morning visit to the zoo to beat the crowd and the heat and to watch the animals being fed.  One of our favorite areas is the Giraffe Overlook and the Savanna Blooms Garden.  We were fortunate to arrive just in time for the giraffe feeding and to see the baby giraffes.  This is a wonderful setting for the children to get up close and personal with the gentle giants amid the amazingly beautiful gardens. 
 

Then, stroll down to the South America Loop, with the Range of the Jaguar, a national award-winning exhibit.  Today, the Jaguar (approximately 200 pounds) was quite busy chewing on some grass right up against the fence, so we were able to get a close-up view of him and his gorgeous coat.  The Jacksonville Zoo Jaguars are fed six times a week.  On Sundays, they are only fed bones in keeping with their natural feeding habits.  Jaguars (in the wild) are not always successful in finding prey.  This Jaguar looked so adorable that many spectators commented that they would love to pick him up and cuddle him.  But, zoo employee Jarrod quickly reminded everyone that Jaguars prey upon other animals by grabbing them by the head and then, with their overpowering jaws, crushing right through the skull.  With that explanation, the crowd moved to the next exhibit. 
 

TO SEE THE ENTIRE PHOTO ALBUM OF THIS ZOO STORY, VISIT  http://www.milleronsports.com/2012/07/must-see-jacksonville-zoo-and-gardens.html 

Don't forget to visit the wallabies and kangaroos who were busily digging holes in the dirt for a secure cool resting place.  One baby wallaby was enjoying some quiet time under the tree by himself.
After the "Save the Frogs" exhibit (this area is air-conditioned, so be sure to stop and enjoy the cool air), enjoy the beauty of the Gardens at Trout River Plaza, with Grecian columns, a breathtaking view of the Trout River (you can even see the Bank of America Tower in downtown Jacksonville), an interactive fountain and sculpture, seasonal plantings, and hanging baskets. 
 

In Asia, you will pass the Honey Bees (do not enter, but just look) and then come upon "Butterfly Hollow," a seasonal exhibit from March 9 through September 30, 2012.  Hundreds of butterflies reside in a picturesque backdrop along the Trout River.  There is an extra $2.00 charge for admission into this exhibit. 

Be sure to save enough time for the Asian Bamboo Gardens, where you can take a break from walking and rest under the shade and enjoy the Koi, orchid pavilion, bamboo mist forest, bronze Panda sculpture, and Komodo Dragon exhibit. 
 

The "Play Park and Splash Ground" offers a place for adults to relax while the children roam, explore, hang, climb and/or get wet.

Another favorite is the Great Apes exhibit, especially when the apes decide to pose for the camera.  One ape actually took a liking to the camera and struck a pose that is priceless.  Wonder what she was thinking! 

The last stop (unless you decide to wrap around the loop again or just want to revisit an exhibit) is "Wild Florida," where you will see panthers, alligators, black bears, bobcats and bald eagles.  As you exit through the Main Camp building, be sure to take note of the spectacular 26,000 square foot thatched roof that was intricately created by Zulu craftsmen from South Africa.  This is the only structure of its kind in North America.  It is a work of art and certainly worth a view.

 Undoubtedly, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has changed over the years, and now it is much more than just a zoo.  The staff is friendly and helpful, and the park is extremely clean and shaded. 

Check the daily schedule so you can hear the "zookeeper talks" because the park is truly an educational experience.  When you plan your visit, check the Internet for special pricing or offers.  Last Monday, the zoo offered a $2.00 per adult admission, and the week before, the price was discounted if the temperature in the park exceeded 92 degrees. 

As always, have fun, and tell them "Miller on Sports sent us."    

Check your refrigerator or cabinet for one of the "Much Needed" items to feed the animals before you leave home.  Your food donation will be appreciated.  http://www.jacksonvillezoo.org/support/wishlist/           



 

THIS INFORMATION WAS COMPILED BY RADIO SPORTS TALK HOST AND JACKSONVILLE GIANTS TELEVISION PLAY BY PLAY ANNOUNCER RICHARD MILLER.  AT 26, RICHARD MILLER IS THE YOUNGEST RADIO SPORTS TALK HOST IN THE NATION.  HIS SHOW, MILLER ON SPORTS, AIRS WEEKDAYS FROM 4:00 TO 6:00 P.M. ON AM 1600 – THE BEACH.  LISTEN TO MILLER ON SPORTS.   “EVERYTHING ELSE IS JUST TALK.”  All photographs and images are the property of Miller On Sports.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

 

Photos by:  B.L. Miller

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