Have you ever gone somewhere with your kids, paid the expensive fees, and then been determined to experience every inch of the grounds for how ever long it takes? But then it never takes very long, so you feel a little bit cheated?
Welcome to the Zoo of Northwest Florida in Gulf Breeze. Just empty out your wallet at the cash register and prepare to pay the most money for possibly the lamest zoo for the price in the civilized world. What sounded so good online was almost laughable in person. According to the website, there should be more than 1,200 animals at the zoo. I think we literally walked every inch of the place, and I’d say their calculations are off by, oh, a good thousand. Well, unless that thou was doing a great job of hiding.
Now I’m not saying it wasn’t an enjoyable experience. I happen to be a zoo lover, so I like seeing each city’s interpretation of how best to display their animals for everyone’s safety. However, at most zoos, I would want to have my Nikon 70-200mm lens on my Nikon D300, the better to really zoom in and capture the animals. At this zoo, my Nikon 105mm was plenty of zoom . . . when there was something to see.
Let’s just say that when the petting zoo is the highlight of the place, it’s not the greatest zoo on earth. Definitely not for $11.50 per person!
Every zoo has its contrast of cute vs. ugly and deadly, and this one was no different. Some of those adorable things included the tamarin and baby black swan shown above. As well as the one below:
And then there’s the not-so-cute. Florida, of course, is known for its alligators. The zoo had lots of them. Interesting to photograph, but they still give me the creeps.
And, of course, there are always snakes. Indiana Jones would’ve hated seeing this Burmese python:
See the online girlfriend (OGF) in the above photo? Yes, she came with us. As we walked through the zoo, it seemed like there were animals cheering for her and my #1 son’s relationship.
Sidebar: I snapped a photo of what two of the peach-faced lovebirds were doing right there in public (a little too much love for those particular birds to be on display), but I’d like to keep this a G- or PG-rated blog. You can thank me later.
Yes, #1 and OGF were the true lovebirds in this little, expensive zoo. I don’t think they really saw any of the animals; they usually only had eyes for each other.
Well, they might have noticed that peach-faced lovebird pair!
A final thought
We took a short train ride around a free-roaming wildlife area. Ka-ching three more dollars per for something that should be included in the general admission price, because you can’t really see this part of the zoo on foot. The tour “guide” was a cute but often-confused young man who often told us animals were on the right side of the train when they really were on the left.
But his unintentionally funniest line came when he pointed out the caged komodo dragons.
“Komodo dragons are native to Indiana,” he claimed.
Yes, maybe in the zoos in Indiana! Then he caught himself.
“Make that India!”
Or should it really be Indonesia?!? Whatever!