The Palm Beach Zoo, home to more than 500 animals, is one of the top-rated attractions in West Palm Beach and is also one of the top ten zoos to visit in Florida.
The zoo features many exhibits and unique interactive experiences that engage visitors with the animals they have. Also, you and your kids will learn about ongoing conservation efforts the zoo is involved in that are happening worldwide to save endangered species.
But the great pastime of going to a zoo is only getting more enjoyable this month as the Palm Beach Zoo is letting all kids get in for free during September, so they can have closer looks at exotic animals from all over the globe.
Ready for adventure?
Well, here are a few facts about ten animals you must see at Palm Beach Zoo if you visit this month:
Let’s give these birds all the credit they deserve. They are everywhere, in all marketing materials, in every zoo, in most gift shops’ merchandises, but they are not Florida’s official state bird.
Still, flamingos are fun to watch. There are six species of these tall, pink wading birds with thick downturned bills. They have slender legs, long, graceful necks, large wings, and short tails. Flamingos eat various types of food, including diatoms, algae, blue-green algae, and invertebrates such as minute mollusks and crustaceans.
But they are also highly gregarious birds. The Palm Beach Zoo has a very exciting exhibit called “The Flamingo Experience” where visitors can learn fun facts about them, walk with the birds along the zoo’s pathways, and also feed them.
Did you know that the word “flamingo” comes from the Spanish and Latin word “flamenco”? It means fire, and refers to the bright color of the birds’ feathers, though the chicks are born gray or white and take up to three years to reach their mature pink, orange, or red plumage.
The Bald Eagle
Our national emblem and mascot, the bald eagle isn’t bald. But this bird is uniquely North American, living only across much of Canada and the U.S., as well as northern parts of Mexico.
Their eyes are amazing. Eagles have sharper vision than people, and their field of vision is wider. Plus, they can see ultraviolet light.
Though the bald eagle is revered in North America, it almost became extinct. Over-hunting was one cause of the population decline and manmade products are also to blame.
Fun fact: Bald eagles have no sense of smell, but they can taste. For example, if a bald eagle thinks that its food tastes spoiled, it won’t eat it.
Two bald eagles are residing at Palm Beach Zoo that have been there for long, brought to the zoo because they were found injured.
Once common throughout the southeastern United States, fewer than 100 Florida panthers are estimated to live in the wilds of South Florida today. The primary threats to the remaining panther population are habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation. Other factors include mortality from collisions with automobiles.
The Palm Beach Zoo assists all incapacitated native animals through an active role in native wildlife rehabilitation and they have rescued endangered Florida panthers with precarious life.
Fun facts: although mountain lions are one of the largest species of cat found in North America, they have more in common with the house cat than a lion or tiger. Unlike other large cats, mountain lions are unable to roar.
Even though they look a little like a domestic dog, bush dogs are wild animals and are poor candidates as pets. But they are gorgeous animals to come see at Palm Beach Zoo.
Bush dogs are found in Central and South America. It is a rare species, and its numbers are declining as a result of the destruction of its natural habitat. Little is known of its habits, though it is reported to be nocturnal, to hunt in packs, and to feed largely on rodents.
Anteaters are not aggressive but they can be fierce. You can see them at Palm Beach Zoo pacing insatiably from one side to another.
They have been around more millions of years but It is estimated that fewer than 5,000 giant anteaters are left in the wild, while a small number (around 90) live in zoos in the US. While giant anteaters are not currently endangered, they have lost much of their population due to hunting and the destruction of their habitat and are considered vulnerable.
Fun facts: giant anteaters spend most of their day looking for food. foraging on the ground. Despite the name, the main diet of a Giant Anteater is termites. Although they do eat ants regularly, termites are they’re number 1 choice.
They are named that way because they hang from the trees by holding different branches with their limbs and long tails, “shaped” like spiders. Most species of spider monkeys are either endangered or critically endangered as they’re still hunted for food by locals in Central and South America as well as other causes, including habitat loss and destruction due to the clearing of land for farming or as a result of logging.
Fun facts: Spider monkeys do not have a thumb. They spend most of their lives in the treetops and can be rarely seen on the ground.
Golden Lion Tamarin
These little cute monkeys have impressive manes—thick rings of hair reminiscent of Africa’s great cats but they have far more in common with their monkey relatives than any feline.
You can see them at Palm Beach Zoo in trees, traveling from branch to branch. They’re hard to stay put.
As Brazil’s Atlantic coastal rain forests are disappearing due to ever-expanding logging, agriculture, and industry, and unfortunately, so are the golden lion tamarins in danger of vanishing with them.
Golden lion tamarins have been the focus of reintroduction efforts during the last three decades. Thanks to conservation efforts, their population in the wild has grown but continued conservation is still needed, especially continued protection and restoration of tamarin habitat.
Red ruffed lemur
The red ruffed lemur is one of the largest species of lemur and is critically endangered. They are primarily fruit eaters, especially figs, but they do also eat pollen, nectar, leaves, and shoots. Red-ruffed lemurs are some of the most vocal of all the primate species in the world.
Lemurs fill an important ecological role in Madagascar. They often feed on an assortment of seasonal fruits and as they travel throughout their environment, they disperse undigested seeds which will soon sprout to replenish the vegetation that sustains Madagascar’s unique inhabitants.
It’s sad to imagine that animals that have been on this planet for 50-60 million years, could one day disappear because of habitat destruction by logging, burning of habitat, and mining.
For the curious mind: Lemurs are also called prosimians, which means “before apes.” They have primitive primate features such as a small braincase and a prominent nose.
This bird, only found in peninsular Malaysia, has a prominent golden-yellow horn on the top of its beak and is fun to be around.
Get ready for a show when you visit the zoo!
Rhinoceros Hornbills are colorful, beautiful birds. They have black feathers on their wings and body and their tail feathers are white. Hornbills are large birds and require immense areas of forest to find enough fruit to sustain themselves. In the process, they provide an invaluable service to many species of trees, transporting the seeds contained in their fruit far from the “mother tree” so that they can germinate.
Both hunting and habitat loss threaten hornbills. Hunting is both for food and traditional medicines, while various parts of the bird are also used in costumes and rituals.
Fun fact: When a female hornbill is ready to lay eggs, she enters a hole in a tree and seals the entrance, leaving just a narrow opening. Once sealed inside, the female becomes dependent on the male, who passes food to her through the hole.
North American river otters are found anywhere there is a permanent food supply and easy access to water. They normally live about 8 to 9 years in the wild but in captivity they can live up to 20 years. They are known as playful animals, exhibiting behaviors such as mud/snow sliding, burrowing through the snow, and waterplay.
Kids that come to the Palm Beach Zoo –and adults as well– will have a terrific time watching them, but hey, there’s a trick. Many “play” activities serve a purpose. Some are used to strengthen social bonds, to practice hunting techniques, and to scent mark.
The otters were locally extirpated from portions of their range but reintroduction and conservation efforts have helped stabilize populations. They have been hunted for many years for their attractive and durable fur. Otters are presumed extirpated in New Mexico.
This water-loving animal is also found throughout Florida except the Keys.
Visiting a zoo is always a good help for children to understand the importance of conservation and will always have a significant impact on their lives.
This month of September is a good opportunity to spend quality time with children at Palm Beach Zoo as it is free for kids to encourage questions about habitat, physical features, and characteristics of the animals in the zoo’s care.
If you visit, the Palm Beach Zoo is located at 1301 Summit Blvd here in West Palm Beach and is open daily from 9 to 5 pm. Free admission also includes all weekend special events this month.
Ten Amazing Animals You Definitely Have to See at Palm Beach Zoo