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Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Bringing wildlife and educational fun to Central Florida families since 1923

The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens opened its doors to the public in 1923 with a collection of donated animals from the Sanford Fire Department. Over the years, the Zoo relocated to several locations throughout Sanford, until it finally set down roots at its current location on July 4, 1975.

Today, the Central Florida Zoo is home to over 400 animals, not including the enormous collection of bugs at the Massey Services Insect Zoo. The Zoo continues to serve the Central Florida community as the premier recreational and educational attraction for the entire family.

Breaking News!

The newest animal addition to the Zoo is a pair of clouded leopard cubs. The adorable pair’s exhibit, a brand new clouded leopard enclosure, was opened to the public on February 11, 2012.

The leopards came to the Zoo as the result of a partnership with the Clouded Leopard Consortium in Thailand. The male cub was born March 28, 2011 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute – National Zoological Park.  He was transferred to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere in Nashville, Tennessee on September 9, 2011 and then transferred to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, WA on September 22 to be introduced to their young female cub.

The female was born at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on June 14, 2011. The female’s parents were born at the Khao Kheow Zoo in Thailand and are descendants of wild clouded leopards.

“We are pleased to be able to give these new cubs a home,” says Shonna Green, Central Florida Zoo’s  Director of Communications & Community Resources. “The majority of our guests have never had the opportunity to see a clouded leopard up-close or experience the thrill of seeing such an animal in the wild.”

What To Do at the Zoo

Are you an adventure fanatic? The Zoo will get your adrenaline pumping with its ZOOm Air Adventure Park, where you can fly through the sky and zip through the treetops on an aerial adventure course. If you’re a little shy of heights, schedule a fast-paced laser tag adventure with Battlefield Live Orlando, or take a guided Segway x2 On-Road or Off-Road Adventure Tour through the Zoo.

During those blistering hot days at the Zoo, bring your flip-flops and bathing suit to cool off in the Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground! Parents will enjoy the shaded Adirondack chairs to relax in, as the kiddos splash and play in the refreshing water.

Have you ever wanted to feed a llama? At the Animal Adventure Children’s Zoo, you can spend time feeding and petting domestic animals, such as sheep, goats, turkeys, zebus, and llamas.

Also, don’t forget to stop by the Herpetarium, which is home to the largest collection of venomous and non-venomous reptiles in the Southeast and the favorite exhibit of the Hughes, a local family of five. The Hughes love visiting the zoo to see the animals and exhibits. “We’ve been there a few times,” states Erica Hughes. “I really like the reptile exhibit and everyone there is really friendly.” Erica adds that the facilities and exhibits are very clean and that she and her sister have always enjoyed their zoo experience and the memories they made.

Weekends at the zoo are always entertaining with special animal education programs, such as Keeper Chats, Reptile Demonstrations, Feline Feeding Programs, and Bird Shows. The zoo offers several educational animal awareness programs every month that give kids the opportunity to have nose to nose animal encounters. The “Snake Awareness Presentation” teaches parents and kids the do’s and don’ts when encountering a reptile, as well as offering tips to keep snakes out of your yard. Also, “Snooze at the Zoo” and “Wild Night Camping Adventure” give kids the chance to stay overnight at the zoo and see the animals after dark.

Birthday parties, camps, and preschool programs are always exciting ways for children to get immersed in the tropical and exciting setting at the zoo. Not only are there great programs for children, but the zoo also offers teacher and adult workshops.

Brittany Friedrich, a Longwood preschool teacher, shares some insight regarding the benefits of the zoo. In her classroom, Brittany is teaching a unit on the Rainforest and plans to take her kids on a field trip to the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens this year. “It’s an exciting opportunity for them to see the animals that we learned about in school and have heard about in the stories I have read to them,” says Brittany.

Green Living & Recycling

The folks at the zoo recently received a grant from the PNC Foundation that allowed them to install eight cisterns capable of holding over 4,000 gallons of rainwater to recycle  and then use for irrigation around the zoo’s property. To support a greener environment, the zoo also provides an Electronic Waste Recycling Drive, where you can drop off your old e-waste items, such as computers, printers, cell phones, and DVD/VCR players at the zoo’s community recycling station.

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
3755 N.W. Highway 17-92 at I-4 (Exit 104)
Sanford, Florida


Zoo hours: open daily from 9am to 5pm

Zoo Admission:

  • Adults: $12.95
  • Seniors 60+: $10.95
  • Children 3-12 Years: $8.95
  • Children 2 & Under: FREE
  • Central Florida Zoo Members: FREE

ZOOm Air Adventure hours: 9am to 4:30pm

*Parking and picnics areas are free.