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“Not a zoo.”

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
Ranked #3 of 48 things to do in Sanford
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Nestled in a protected natural wetland, the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens has animals from around the world including, rhinos, giraffes, leopards, monkeys, exotic birds, an Insect Zoo, and much more. Our Reptile House offers the southeast's largest collection of reptiles. We also offer live animal encounters, many educational opportunities and demonstrations, daily Keeper Chats and Shows, a Tropical Splash Playground, and the Little Florida Coastline Railroad and Animal Carousel. For a small fee, you can feed our giraffes, or go behind-the-scenes with our Indian rhinos! With something for everyone, the adventures are endless!
Useful Information: Stroller parking, Bathroom facilities, Wheelchair access
Reviewed February 5, 2014

After a year+ being a member, I gave up on visiting this zoo. Recent additions, such as the rhino and giraffe exhibits, would be celebrated, if they were not partnered with the quiet and mysterious disappearance of other exhibits. Kangaroo, who?

I've seen staff smoking near the cages. I've seen parents beating their children amidst the monkeys. Booths are unattended, the air reeks of popcorn, the constant whizz of zip lines and paintball/airsoft warfare shatters whatever animal dignity might have existed. The plants are rife with infestations, whatever nod at a "botanical" garden being established here is paltry, and invasive species flourish throughout the property, choking native plant life. The beavers are covered in sores, the cats and languid and cramped, the entire facility needs a revamp, with more active/interactive discussion.

Perhaps this zoo suffers simply by being surrounded by better zoos? Brevard, Tampa, Jacksonville, all offer better experiences, more animals, friendlier and more knowledgeable staff, etc. etc.

If you compare the prices and the crowds with the facilities presented, it becomes clear that SOMEONE is pocketing a ton of cash off this attraction.

7  Thank AGP2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CentralFlaZoo, Business Development Manager at Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded February 28, 2014

Thank you for being an annual pass holder in the past, your support is very important to our non-profit Zoo. That said, we feel we must respond to some of your statements to set the record straight for other readers.
We do change our exhibits from time to time, which keeps us fresh and exciting. This is not uncommon in the Zoo world, and frequent guests are typically excited to see what is new. Some animals are sent to us and ours to other facilities for conservation breeding purposes. Some are on loan to us from other facilities and their time with us comes to an end. The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) is aware and approves of all animals changes at our facility, there is nothing mysterious about it.
We would like to clarify that the Zoo is a non-smoking facility, with very limited smoking areas far from our animals. This includes the staff.
We're not sure how you can think the "air reeks of popcorn" as we only sell popcorn in an enclosed concessions area and it is certainly not our top selling item. We are also puzzled by your comments about the zip lines as they are outside the actual zoo and do not span over our animal habitats. Additonally, we don't have paintball and the laser tag partner is located even further from our animals on the road leading up to the zoo, and you can't even hear it at all if you are not actually playing.
In the past our botanical offerings have not always been top notch. However the last 2 years has seen an amazing turn around in that department. We are receiving compliments all the time on our improved plant life and increased education regarding our tropical botanicals.
We don't have beavers here and none of our animals are uncared for or unhealthy. Also, each habitat is designed with that particular animal's territory in the wild in mind. Again, we are an AZA accredited facility so there is a tremendous amount of oversight into every thing we do. But more importantly, the animal keepers put a tremendous amount of work and love into caring for their animals.
Your last comment about someone pocketing cash on our facility is frankly insulting to everyone who works on a shoestring budget to make the Zoo a wonderful place to visit . A zoo is an extremely expensive place to operate and our prices are still very low. We'd like you and other readers to know that as a registered 501c3 non-profit our financial statements are published and available to the public.
It is our hope that other readers will know that your comments are simply not reflective of our Zoo. We are dedicated to our animals and our guests and we work diligently to excel as a dynamic regional resource providing a unique interactive experience with the natural world.

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381 - 385 of 599 reviews

Reviewed February 5, 2014

A little bit small, but the variety of animals is good none-the-less. The park is well maintained, good playground and the water recreation area is a heap of fun if the weather is warm. A few animals are out and about on display, with the rangers very happy to have a chat and explain the animals to the kids.
A good enclosure and wide variety of snakes, bugs and spiders. Also a variety of farm animals that the kids can easily recognize.

2  Thank MaximRossOz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CentralFlaZoo, Business Development Manager at Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded February 17, 2014

Thank you so much for visiting and reviewing our Zoo! It is true, we are smaller than other facilities in the country but that can be a good thing, especially if you are visiting with small children. We are so glad you enjoyed your visit and had an opportunity to chat with some of the keepers. They love talking with guests about the animals they care for!
Thanks again for visiting and we hope when your travels bring you back to Central Florida you'll come see what is new at the Zoo!

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Reviewed January 27, 2014

This is a small zoo with a decent variety of animals on display. We visited with our one-year-old grandson who was just learning to walk. He was able to pet the animals in the Barnyard Buddies children zoo and enjoyed observing the other animals. There were lots of shade trees covering the walkways so we never felt too hot.The walkways were either concrete or wooden boardwalk which made navigating with a toddler much easier. Kids can run off some energy at the Kaboom play area while parents get a rest on the benches. We visited during the afternoon which turned out to be feeding time for the majority of the animals. This made for more activity from the monkey, leopard and cheetah exhibits than usual. I was impressed by range of animals which included rhinos and many large cats. I have visited the San Diego zoo and the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE; no, this does not compare but it is pleasant way to spend a few hours with family.

1  Thank zuebee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CentralFlaZoo, Business Development Manager at Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded January 30, 2014

Thank you for visiting and reviewing the Zoo. It appears as if you were able to take in a lot of what the Zoo offers! We are so very glad to hear that you had a nice day out with your grandson. We are a terrific place to spend an afternoon with a small child and our Zoo is designed to be just that for families.
We aren't a big city Zoo like San Diego, that is for certain. But we think we offer a lot of charm that might be lacking at a larger facility and a closer experience to many of the animals, not to mention the lower price! We are so pleased to hear you felt the same way.
Thanks again for visiting and we hope you'll bring your grandson back someday!

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Reviewed January 24, 2014

We went to the Central Florida Zoo because it seemed a nice place, the website showed nice picture.

hen we got there, I was entitled to a military rebate. The place is nice, but, yes there is a but, half of the animals were "stored" for winter...si there was not allot to see..and, no one told us at the begining. If we would have been told...we would not have gone.

3  Thank maferland269
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CentralFlaZoo, Business Development Manager at Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded January 30, 2014

Thanks for visiting the Zoo during your trip to Central Florida. I'd like to point out that we do not "store" our animals for winter. Temperatures in Florida during winter are actually very hard to predict. They can range 20-30 degrees day by day! If you visited on a colder day, I am sure you did not see as many animals as if you had visited on a warmer day. We do not force our animals out of their dens as some facilities do. Since we can't control the weather, all we can say is that we are sorry to hear that we did not exceed your expectations. We hope you enjoyed the animals you did get to see, many of which are more active on colder days. If your travels bring you back to the Orlando area during a warmer time of year, we hope you'll come see what you missed and what is new!

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Reviewed January 22, 2014

This isn't a huge zoo but a great day trip for small kids. The staff was great and answered all our kids questions. At $15pp it's a good value in Orlando. The Camel rides and snake show were my five year olds favorites.

2  Thank MCHmomma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CentralFlaZoo, Business Development Manager at Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded January 30, 2014

Thank you for visiting and reviewing the Zoo. We are glad you saw good value in our low entrance prices. We are very glad to learned you enjoyed the snake show, that is something we've just recently added!
We hope you'll visit again soon to see what is new at the Zoo!

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