TAMPA, FLORIDA — Three of the nation’s best zoo exhibits are located in the Sunshine State, a new report says.
Zoos in Tampa, Jacksonville and Melbourne secured spots in USA Today’s 10 Best Zoo Exhibits for 2023. The exhibits were selected by a panel of zoo professionals and family travel experts and voted on by readers.
MANATEE RESCUE IN TAMPA
The highest-ranking exhibit from the state went to the David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center at ZooTampa. The Center is the largest non-profit and one of only four critical care centers in the world.
The exhibit finished at number four in the country because it allows guests to see injured manatees rehabbing at the facility. Nicknamed sea cows and native to Florida, manatees are synonymous with the state and a beloved creature worldwide.
JACKSONVILLE’S “LAND OF THE TIGER”
Voters picked Jacksonville Zoo’s “Land of the Tiger” for the nation’s fifth best exhibit. The 115-acre zoo cares for over 2,000 animals from around the world.
Land of the Tiger sprawls across 2.5 acres and features Malayan and Sumatran tigers roaming through the “Asia Loop” on a series of trails. The zoo also offers a venue rental space where patrons eat and drink while they watch the big cats roam.
Although not listed in the rankings, Jacksonville is also home to the popular “Catty Shack” wildlife sanctuary, which allows visitors to stand a few feet away from a variety of rescued animals. The sanctuary is known for its impressive collection of jungle cats, including tigers, lions, panthers and leopards.
AN AFRICAN EXPEDITION AT BREVARD ZOO
America’s 7th best exhibit sits on the Space Coast at Brevard Zoo in Melbourne. The unique “Expedition Africa” is the only exhibit in the country to offer a guided kayaking tour around an animal exhibit.
Tour guides lead guests down the Nyami Nyami River, educating them as they float past giraffes, ostriches, impalas, lemurs, zebras and more. Visitors can also embark on a self-guided kayak tour through the restored Wetlands area in the “Wild Florida” exhibit.