Go on an Adventure to the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens
While Florida has its fair share of off-roading opportunities for Land Rover drivers, you can’t yet take your SUV over the water to an African safari or arctic adventure. However, you can drive to the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens. Walk through lush, tropical foliage to see over 70 different species, meet animal keepers, and learn about conservation all at this wonderful Florida Zoo.
From Private Garden to Conservation-Focused Zoo
Illinois botanist Dr. Henry Nehrling first purchased land in Gotha, Florida in 1884 for his private garden, but after a freeze killed everything off in 1917, he relocated to Naples. Following his death in 1929, the gardens fell into disarray until it was reopened to the public in 1954 as the Caribbean Gardens.
In 1967, world travelers and animal lovers Jungle Larry and Safari Jane came to the Caribbean Gardens looking for a place for their exotic animals to spend year around. Still in the family, today’s Naples Zoo has 70 different species and is focused on conservation in Florida and around the world. They have animals from around the world, as well as rescued Florida wildlife that have been injured and can no longer live on their own. Visiting the Naples Zoo is both fun and educational!
What to See and Do at the Naples Zoo
When you visit Naples Zoo, there’s a loop that takes you all around the zoo, past every exhibit, and through the remaining parts of the Caribbean Gardens. While you can easily spend an hour or two just wandering the zoo, there’s a lot more you don’t want to miss:
- Alligator Bay Feeding: the Naples Zoo has a large water area filled with gators, but they’re not very active most of the time. But during the daily feeding, the gators swarm to eat while the keepers train the animals. Many of the gators recognize their names and only come for food when called.
- Meet the Keeper: during the day at scheduled times, the keepers are out front of to talk about the animals they take care of. This is a great way to learn more about them and how you can help keep their wild populations thriving.
- Primate Expedition Cruse: perhaps the most unique feature of the Naples Zoo is the primate cruise. In a man-made lake, various species of gibbons, howler monkeys, and lemurs live on their own islands that are free of bars or barriers. You relax during a gentle boat ride as you get up close to the different species.
- Safari Canyon Open Air Theater: the Naples Zoo has daily animal shows where you get to see many of the animals they have that are not on regular display. This isn’t sea world, they don’t perform tricks, but it is a great opportunity to see animals up close and in person without a barrier.
- Snakes Alive: once a day, you have the opportunity to see a variety of snakes and learn more about them. Their keepers bring out the animals one by one to slither around, and you can observe from a safe distance.
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