If animals could talk, they would tell humans how they really feel, revealing zoos' tangled cross-species love triangles and opining that no one looks good in a beret. Commune with the animals with today's Groupon: for $6, you get gate admission to Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (up to a $13 value); during September, the deal includes a train ride as well as gate admission (a combination ticket, up to a $15.50 value).
With origins dating back to 1914, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens offers the only walking safari in northeast Florida, with interactive and educational activities to inspire visitors to respect and conserve their local environment. The zoo and gardens offer glimpses at more than1,400 exotic animals and about 1,000 varieties of plants, but do not include a single labyrinth-dwelling minotaur. A promenade down the 1,400-foot-long African Loop boardwalk affords a front-row seat to watch old-world monkeys, Nile crocodiles, cheetahs, gray elephants, and lions frolic in the constructed wild. The two-time national-award-winning Range of the Jaguar recreates a South American habitat for jaguars, capybaras, and howler monkeys, and the River Valley Aviary presents a two-story enclosure full of yellow-billed storks, white-bellied bustards, and other airborne squawkers.
As you meander among exhibits, take a stroll down the River of Color, a ribbon of multi-hued blooms and foliage. From this path, one can access two-acre pocket gardens that provide themed forecourts to the exhibits that follow. Examples include African savanna, South American jungle, and an authentic Asian garden replete with bamboo trees and elegant footbridges over rivers of bubbling-hot ponzu sauce. Visitors will not want to miss the pièce de résistance, the 12-acre Primary Garden, which features native riparian flora and panoramic views of the Trout River. Additional attractions include five dining venues, a carousel, train rides, and a play area equipped with water jets and fountains to provide much-needed moisture to amphibious families.
This Groupon is valid for a combination ticket during the month of September or a gate admission ticket until the end of the year. It is not valid for after-hours events.
Featured in Fodor's and Metro Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens boasts almost 8,000 Facebook fans. TripAdvisors rank the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens fifth out of 53 Jacksonville attractions.
- Among the zoo's outstanding exhibits are its collection of rare waterfowl and the Serona Overlook, which showcases some of the world's most venomous snakes. – Fodor's
- The Zoo houses over 2,000 rare and exotic animals and over 1,500 unique plant species and participates in many preservation and breeding programs... – Metro Jacksonville
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
When the Jacksonville Zoo first opened in 1914, it had only one attraction––a red fawn. Today, nearly a century later, it’s home to more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 plant species, and welcomes an ever-changing lineup of visiting exhibits. Guests stroll along the boardwalk in a large, open environment called the Plains of East Africa, where cheetah, antelope, and warthogs roam in environs that simulate their native habitat. The African loop also includes Elephant Plaza, where elephants stir up tidal waves playing marco polo in a 275,000-gallon pool. Visitors can also pet and feed stingrays, stand eye-to-eye with a giraffe, and head to the award-winning Range of the Jaguar exhibit to roam a replica of an abandoned Mayan temple. During summer months, kids get wet at the Play Park and Splash Ground, where they can climb into a treehouse or peer through an underwater window to see penguins swimming overhead.
After guests explore the wildlife, rest and relaxation await within botanical gardens such as the Asian Bamboo garden, where patrons cross a traditional moon gate to see a tranquil waterfall, komodo dragons, and an interactive bamboo mist forest. The zoo also features a carousel, train rides, and several restaurants where humans can tap into their own wild instincts by hunting their natural prey—the sandwich.