Brevard Zoo

Top choice zoo in Melbourne

Image by AlyssaNicole24 Getty Images

For more than 22 years this community-built zoo has set standards for imaginative design, immersive wildlife experiences, education and conservation. Since hammer-holding locals came out in force in March 1994 to start construction, the zoo’s landscape has evolved via winding boardwalks through hardwood hammocks into distinct geographical zones featuring wildlife from Florida, South America, Africa and Australia. Specially designed enclosures merging with the undergrowth and free-flight aviaries give a real sense of wandering through a wilderness.

The zoo's best experiences are the kayak tours past gangling giraffes down the Nyami Nyami river and the Tree Top Trek, an aerial adventure course incorporating ziplines over wetland ponds and alligator pools.

Once you’ve got over the enjoyment of wandering around the zoo’s unique environment, you’ll begin to notice its dedication to the serious work of conservation and wildlife education. The Paws On children's area invites kids to build, explore and splash around on a real sand beach, engage in hookless fishing and pet the resident pygmy goats and alpacas. Volunteers work tirelessly to create oyster mats for the oyster-reef-regeneration project in Indian River, and the Wildlife Detective Training Academy encourages curiosity and inquiry in older kids through self-guided mystery tours designed around the zoo.

In addition, there are night hikes, a Junior Zoo Keeper’s Club, summer camps, animal-adoption programs and well-attended community events, including the popular Boo at the Zoo Halloween celebration. For kids and animal lovers this may well outshine the Space Center.

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