The Brevard Zoo is one of the best Space Coast attractions right alongside the Kennedy Space Center. I have been to quite a few zoos in my life, but the Brevard Zoo really stands apart from them. This is mainly due to all the unique experiences they offer, but also in part to how connected to nature this zoo is compared to others. There is no other zoo in the world that offers guiding kayaking tours around an enclosure where visitors can get close to giraffes and other African wildlife. There is also a zip line course, opportunities to meet rhinos and lemurs, and a kangaroo walkabout. I was thoroughly impressed with all the different exhibits and I think it’s worth taking a day trip to Melbourne for, regardless of your age.
Entry to the Brevard Zoo
If you are taking a break from the Orlando attractions to visit the Brevard Zoo, then you will find everything about it extremely refreshing. The parking is free and relatively close to the entrance. It only costs $20 per person ($15 per child) and you can purchase your tickets online or at the entrance. There was not much of a line when we got there around 1 PM on a Sunday and we were quickly in the park.
You will be greeted by gorgeous wooded paths and the sight of a lagoon with filled with flamingos and swimming koi. It really feels so much more down to earth here than other zoos. Of course they do offer to take your picture at the entrance, which you can then purchase for $25. You are much better off just asking a passerby to take on of your family instead. From there the zoo is a big loop with different sections branching out. There are a variety of birds in the middle, but the meerkat exhibit is too adorable to pass by. There had to be at least twenty of these little guys burrowing and seeing them was the perfect start to our day at the zoo!
From there we headed towards Expedition Africa. The Africa area of the Brevard Zoo is everyone’s favorite because that’s where the giraffes, zebras, cheetahs and rhinos are! You cross under a Baobab tree onto a wooden bridge that leads to tall walkways all around the exhibit. The elevated viewpoint makes it so that you can see the entire savanna and all sorts of animal interactions. When we got there in the afternoon, the zebras and rhinos were active and we enjoyed watched them.
Unfortunately the giraffes were full for the day and were hanging out on the other side of the enclosure. You can feed the giraffes for a few dollars, but there is no guarantee they want to be fed. We were told if you want to feed them it is best to come earlier in the day. That is when they hang around the raised platform where you can feed them right out of your hand! Then they hang around a more shady area in the afternoon that is conveniently near the kayaking path. If you are doing the Adventure! package which includes giraffes feeding and the kayaking tour, start at the giraffe area first thing for feedings, then make your way around the zoo and come back in the afternoon for kayaking.
We spent most of our time here admiring the rhinos and the zebras. The cheetahs were slightly visible, but they were lounging in the shade like typical African cats seem to do in the daytime. We also got a good look at the impala, cute deer-like creatures. Other notable animals in this section include ostriches, guineafowl, oryx, cranes, storks, any python. Each section includes a short description about the animal, and you can definitely learn a lot about African species.
Lands of Change
Lands of Change is the section that covers Australian and Asian animals. It is a newly renovated section where you can find the kanagroos, komodo dragons, and a large theater for interactive shows. One of the coolest things the Brevard Zoo offers is a kangaroo walkabout. This is an area where you actually can walk around the kangaroos enclosure! They are mostly harmless, so you can get up close and observe them. You are not allowed to touch the kangaroos, but if you are lucky they might come up to you!
I don’t think I had ever even seen kangaroos before, so I was very excited. They were way smaller than I expected and quite cute! We visited on a hot September day and most of the kangaroos were lounging in the shade. Then all of a sudden, two of them hopped right in front of us! It was so surprising to see! One of the kangaroos was trying to get frisky with another, so that was a little weird. You may have to have a talk with your kids about what was going on after this exhibit! But for the most part it was awesome to get so close to these marsupials.
This exhibit is also sponsored by Florida Power and Light (FPL) who placed solar trees around the are for generating electricity. These are basically towers with solar panels and the kangaroos seemed to enjoy the shade they provided. They then use this energy to provide warmth for the komodo dragons. I love when zoos show how environmental initiatives can work and this one is an especially good example.
There are many other animals in the Land of Change section besides the kangaroos. They had a couple types of pigs including the North Sulawesi Babirusa pigs who had just had a baby piglet a month ago! His name is Java and it was adorable to see him cuddling with his mom. There are also the critically endangered warty pigs that were like very fluffly looking warthogs. We must have missed the dingos, but you can find them here in addition to other Australian favorites like the kookaburra, the wallaby, and emu.
The one exhibit we avoided was the Aviary. Here there are all sorts of birds flying around including rainbow lorikeet, cockatiel and spoonbill. You can even feed these birds for only $1! It’s apparently a great exhibit, but Andrew wanted to be no where near those birds. The tip of his finger was bitten off by a parrot at a pet store when we was little and he has avoided birds ever since! There is nothing to worry about here and the exhibit is completely safe and fun, but I just thought I would share that fun fact about Andrew. There was no way I could convince him to go into that aviary!
The Wild Florida section of the Brevard Zoo has some interesting exhibits and was educational. It features habitats natural to the state. Wild Florida starts out with a bridge over a section of crocodiles and alligators. I didn’t think crocodiles were native to Florida, but apparently there are some in the Everglades so I learned something new! They were just kind of resting in the water and not looking particularly scary when we walked by. They do have daily feedings if you want to see these fierce reptiles in action!
There are a variety of native Florida birds to see. One of my favorites is the Bald Eagle. They are just so magnificent looking and always larger than I imagine. They also have a few rescued owls, like a barred owl that could no longer fly. It was sleeping and looking cuddly and comfy on its perch. I love getting to see little foxes so I was delighted at the Red Fox exhibit. That is until I noticed a squirrel had made it inside. We were worried for a few minutes that we might witness the fox catching some prey, but luckily the foxes were not very interested in the squirrel!
We got to see a red wolf, which was pretty cute and seemed to be enjoying roaming his habitat. All the enclosures looked extremely large for each animal and I really do think this zoo is doing a great job of keeping the animals happy, especially the many who were rescued. In addition the wolf, there were also otters, tortoise and snapping turtles.
The best part of this area was the butterfly garden which is unfortunately being closed and renovated starting this month. They are making tons of improvement at the Brevard Zoo, so I’m sure it will make room for something equally or more impressive. I did enjoy being surrounded by butterflies though. They also had some lemurs you could get close too.
There’s also a beautiful boardwalk area that leads out to a wetland overlook. Here you can see Florida in it’s natural state. It’s something I am used to seeing most days, but it can be peaceful to relax here and see the wild birds fly by and maybe even a wild alligator in the water. They really aren’t any different from the ones in the zoo, but this section definitely makes your appreciate Florida’s beauty.
La Selva Rainforest
La Selva is the rainforest section that was closed when we visited in September 2018. It will be partially open by the end of October 2018 and then full opened sometime in 2019. The main animals we missed here were a variety of monkeys and the jaguars. I hear this is an exciting section with all sorts of species, so we will definitely be back to check it out. The different monkeys include howler monkeys, spider monkeys and common squirrel monkeys. There are also vultures, anteaters, iguanas, sloths, and lots more birds.
Paws On Play
This last section is mainly focused on different hands-on exhibits, that more appeal to children. However, I think it is worthwhile for everyone to spend at least half an hour here since there was a lot to see. They had a really great exhibit about all the environmental initiatives the Brevard Zoo is involved in, including building oyster mats. These oyster mats are placed all over the county to help restore reefs and improve the river ecosystem.
A main section of this area includes a petting zoo where you can meet goats, alpacas, tortoise, armadillos and lizards. All the animals were all friendly and it was fun getting to see them up close. The other main area is actually a splash zone. There is an average size pool that’s probably at most two feet deep with some sprinkler like water features. However, one thing that surprised me here was an aquarium that was built right next to the pool. It was a pretty impressive aquarium too, with stingray, crabs, snapper, tarpon and some other large fish. I ended up taking my shoes off and walked in the water so I could see right up to the glass. If you have kids, I definitely recommend bringing bathing suits so they can take a much-needed break from the heat and splash around here.
For the rare days that it is not swimming weather there are also two large playgrounds for kids to explore, one indoors and one outdoors. The outdoor playground is themed to gopher tortoises and has this giant wooden statue of one. The indoor playground looked like a great place to escape from one a passing storm. There is even have an educational vet lab with stuffed animals. Between all of these exhibits, I think young families could spend a full day here. Kids would be ready for a nap by the end of the day!
We were at the zoo for about three hours this past visit and did not see everything. We knew we would be back again when La Selva opens, so we decided to take advantage of $10 Brevard County Resident entrance price special they had going on in Sundays in September and do a short visit. Older families and couples would probably be satisfied with a half-day visit, but this zoo offers so many unique experiences that you can’t find anywhere else which could stretch it to a full day.
I think the Adventure! Package is the best for most Brevard Zoo visitors as it includes admission, a kayak tour, and giraffe and bird feedings for $30. This is only $10 more than regular admission, so it’s a great deal for a kayaking experience. You do not have to worry about being an experienced kayaker. The water is extremely calm and the kayaks are hooked to an underwater line so they will stay in the center of the waterway. The only restriction is that children have to be at least five years old to participate.
If you are a serious animal lover, they have some cool encounters that you can add on. For $45 (not including admission) you can get the kayaking tour and a forty-five minute lemur encounter. Here you get the opportunity to feed lemurs and they will come right up to you. The lemurs at the zoo looked so playful and I am sure it would be fun to spend more time with these creatures.
There is also a fifteen minute rhino encounter, which is a $20 add-on. Here you get to touch the rhinos and learn more about them. If you really want to go all out, you can pay $125 (does include zoo admission) and get a two hour backstage tour where you meet the lemurs, rhinos and giraffes and zebras. This also includes the kayaking, so this is the way to splurge for an adventurous day of animals!
There’s one other awesome add-on you can enjoy at the Brevard Zoo and that is Treetop Trek. This is a zip-line and obstacle course they have at the on-site forest area. I still have yet to try this, but I have heard it’s one of the best places in Florida to go zip-lining. The have five different options for all sorts of ages and it seems affordable for such an attraction. There is no age minimum, however most of the courses require participants to be at least 54 inches tall. Here are the five different options.
Chutes & Ladders – Kids eight and under might want to stick to this obstacle course which consists of bridges, tightropes and a couple zip lines. It takes at least 45 minutes and can be a great introduction for adventurous kiddos. It costs $20/person and you cannot be more than 60″ tall.
The Canopy Walk – An introductory course where participants can walk twenty feet above the ground through the Rainforest area of the zoo past parrots and vultures. There are 21 different elements like tightropes and such as well as two zip-lines. This experience can take up to two hours and it costs $35/person.
Challenge Reloaded – This includes the Canopy Walk, as well some high up elements and large zip-lines. The zip-lines cross over 600 feet of wetlands, including ones with gators below. Activities include a high-wire bicycle ride and a some rock wall features. This option takes up to three hours to complete ad costs $55/person.
Black Diamond – Serious thrill-seekers can do this option for the challenge reloaded experience with the addition of more zip lines and more challenge features. There’s a lot of high-up activities and also some climbing that requires serious upper body strength. It’s kind of like ninja warrior in addition to zip lining. This one takes at least three hours, but reviews say that you do not even notice the time flying by. It costs $70/person and some say it is worth it for the extra challenges.
Zip Only – If you would just prefer to do the zip lining and not all the intense challenges, then you can choose this option and experience nine zip lines. This will take a little over an hour, and you will get to see the beautiful views of the rain forest and the wetlands. It costs $45/person.
If you go during a holiday you will want to get to the Brevard Zoo early and sign-up first thing. You cannot buy your tickets online so lines can occur on busy days or they might sell out before you get there. Anyone under twelve years old requires a chaperone to join them.
Know Before You Go
- The Brevard Zoo is open most days from 9:30-5 with the occasional schedule changes due to events
- You are welcome to leave the zoo and get a stamp so you can come back later
- The Brevard Zoo does sell basic fast food and drinks (including wine and beer)
- You cannot bring in any food or drinks, but there are picnic tables right outside the zoo if you would like to bring a cooler in the car and eat lunch there (I would recommend doing this as the food didn’t look too exciting)
- Book your experiences (Treetop Trek or Kayaking) as early in the day as possible
- The Brevard Zoo is open rain or shine and will only close due to weather in the event of a hurricane
- You will not be refunded for any inclement weather
- They are located off of Wickham Road in Melbourne, which is close to the Avenues of Viera and Cedar’s Cafe if you are looking for somewhere nearby to dine
Andrew and I love the Brevard Zoo and are excited to go back and try the Treetop Trek soon. Let me know if you have been or if you have a favorite zoo that I should visit. For more ideas for local things to do in the area, check out my guides on Cocoa Beach, and Melbourne, Florida!