Florida! It's a Zoo!
Kara Killen, August 3, 2018
|3 minute read|
When it comes to wildlife in Florida, we don't monkey around. We have the exotic – Florida panthers, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, wild boar, sea turtles and manatees plus nearly 500 native bird species and dozens of established exotics. Then there's the "scarier" side of the animal kingdom: snakes and alligators. Whatever it may be, Florida's fauna is quite spectacular. Tip: bring binoculars!
When you think of Florida, monkeys are not the first animal that comes to mind. But a population of free-ranging Rhesus monkeys has existed along the Silver River in Central Florida for nearly 80 years. It's believed that the monkeys were either escapees from a Tarzan movie set or intentionally released by a jungle cruise boat captain. The primates forage for themselves and live off a variety of native plants and tourist handouts. However, if you see them, don't feed them because it's against the law. It's a good 100-mile drive from the Orlando area but who doesn't love a scenic road trip?
It's not all about gators. Gatorland also has a free-flight aviary, petting zoo, one-of-a-kind animal shows, the thrilling Screamin' Gator Zip Line and a new Stompin' Gator Off-Road Adventure. Your kids will get an education as well as an exciting and memorable experience.
Located in Lakeland, it's only about a half hour drive from your luxury vacation villa. Here, you can safari by vehicle through an expansive 260-acre wilderness ranch in comfort and safety. Experience close-up encounters with sitatunga, scimitar-horned oryx, nilgai, and a bunch of other cool exotic animals whose names you can't pronounce. You can also safari by kayak where you'll see will see a variety birds including: egrets, herons, ibis and bald eagles. You can even take a Camel Expedition and view spectacular herds of game animals. How do you take your camel, one hump or two?
Swim With Manatees
There are several tour operators you can contact for a boat or swim tour with these precious, passive mammals. I recommend going to the Crystal River area because that's where I went about 10 years ago with a friend who knew exactly where to go and what to do, and it was a phenomenal experience. I cherish the memory. This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of adventure.
Wild Florida Airboats and Gator Park, located about 45 minutes from your vacation villa, is more than just an airboat tour. You can stroll through their Gator and Wildlife Park. Get up-close to exotic animals: pet a porcupine, feed a fox, stroke a sloth at their animal encounters. Ride an airboat through part of the Florida Everglades ecosystem and catch a glimpse of alligators, eagles, wild boars, and other native creatures. Make a day of it by refreshing yourselves at their restaurant. Dine in air-conditioned comfort or surrounded by beauty at a picnic table along the shore of Lake Cypress. Connect with our beautiful nature on your Florida vacation.