When visiting the Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, there is so much to see and do. There are exotic plants and mature trees that surround the animals in this tropical garden which was founded back in 1919. Fifty years prior to the animals being introduced, the botanical collection was planted. Due to the very special need for space conservation, visitors are very close to the animals, at times even just a few steps away from them. Voted consistently the best place to take your kids, it’s a great family fun day trip, whether you live locally or abroad.
The layout of the Naples Zoo is one major loop that is about a mile long and winds along the lovely botanical gardens and past all of the main exhibits. There are about eleven main exhibits around the main loop, these include:
- The Panther Exhibit
- Tiger Forest
- Backyard Habitat
- African Oasis
- Alligator Bay
- Leopard Rock
- Black Bear Hammock
- Lake Victoria
- Fosas of Madagascar
- And Lion´s Lair
Home to Uno the Florida Panther, the Panther Exhibit houses this big cat who had been discovered after being shot at close range and left for dead. He was fortunately nursed back to health and later brought to the zoo and placed in his home that resembles that wetlands he loves.
On the South side of the loop, right across from the Alligator Bay you will find the African Oasis. Many African animals call this area home, for example: Dorcas gazelles, miniature zebu, African gray parrots, crested porcupines, greater kudu, impala and leopard tortoises.
Home to black bears, Black Bear Hammock consists of two separate habitats; one which simulates a back yard and the other simulates a natural environment. Both areas are able to be viewed and appreciated behind protective glass. East of the Mississippi River, this is that largest black bear exhibit you will find.
There are several islands on Lake Victoria that are home to the primates of the zoo. These islands are able to be viewed by visitors very close up by taking the Primate Expedition Cruise. This tour lasts around fifteen to twenty minutes and takes you around the lake on one of the catamarans at the zoo. The great thing about this exhibit is that, the majority of these species in the wild are endangered.
Home to the American alligators at the zoo, the Alligator bay also houses many native species such as an annual collection of herons. On Leopard Rock, both the black and spotted leopards are housed. Visitors can watch them play and frolic together at close range.
A section of the gardens that has been set aside as well as certified BWH (Backyard Wildlife Habitat) program by the National Wildlife Federation, the Backyard Habitat includes a beautiful pool where visitors are able to spend some time feeding the fish.
There is so much to see and explore, throughout the day the zoo offers visitors events that highlight the conservation and the animals, these include; Meet the Keeper, hosted at various exhibits throughout the zoo, on Sundays there are Botanical tours and at the Safari Canyon Open Air theater enjoy the shows of Planet Predator and Serpents: Fang and Fiction.