The only thing better? The zoo’s fun shows and boat tours, which are entertaining as they are informative, making for a day that the whole family will enjoy.
The Kapnick Caribbean Gardens provide a beautiful backdrop for the zoo. First planted in 1919, the gardens are now fully mature and feature towering coconut palms and a diverse collection of plants from across the Caribbean. It’s a lush and beautiful setting for a zoo and its trees provide welcome shade to visitors as they walk from exhibit to exhibit in the zoo’s 1-mile loop. For those interested in plants, the gardens offer daily tours.
The Naples Zoo is home to about 70 animal species, including favorites like African lions, Malayan tigers and giraffes; rare and endangered animals from Africa like honey badgers and fossas; and Florida natives like alligators and Florida panthers. Whether you’re viewing bears from behind glass, apes from a pontoon boat or a two-toed sloth from the audience during a zookeeper-led show, you’ll get a chance to connect with nature up close.
The popular Primate Exhibition Cruise brings visitors on a boat tour of the zoo’s Lake Victoria, where primates live free in their natural habitat on the lake’s islands. You’ll see ring-tailed lemurs, spider monkeys and buff-cheeked gibbons swing from the trees and jump and leap about as you skirt each island. During the ride, a knowledgeable captain will explain the animals and answer questions. (The cruise is included in the price of admission.)
The Naples Zoo understands that some animals are best met with an introduction. So instead of displaying these animals in regular exhibits, the zoo introduces them to visitors during its Meet the Keeper program. This gives visitors the opportunity to view animals like pythons and honey badgers up close as zookeepers display these unique animals and explain what makes them unique.
Uno, the zoo’s endangered Florida panther, lived in the nearby wetlands when he was found dying of shotgun wounds. After being nursed back to health, he was brought to the zoo, where he lives in his natural habitat and helps educate the public about his species.
A highlight of the Primate Exhibition Cruise, the zoo’s buff-cheeked gibbons continually win crowds over with their swinging skills. Have your cameras ready as the boat tour passes by their island.
Behind the scenes, the Naples Zoo works with partners in Florida and around the world on important conservation projects. Endangered species that zoo is helping support include the Florida panther, the African lion and the clouded leopard. In fact, a portion of every ticket sold and every item bought from the zoo’s gift shop supports this project.
The Naples Zoo has a regular calendar of special events and exhibits. Past events have included everything from animal-themed Halloween parties to appearances by Dora the Explorer. The zoo’s current temporary exhibit is Penguins in Paradise, a touring exhibit of African penguins that will be open through April 15, 2018.