If you’ve ever been to our zoo in Orlando, you know you can spend several hours walking our shaded boardwalks and learning more about all kinds of animals, from majestic mammals to creepy crawly invertebrates.
In fact, the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens is home to more than 300 animals representing over 100 species, including some of the rarest and most endangered creatures on the planet. At our Orlando zoo, visitors can meet animals from the furthest reaches of the planet while also getting to know the species in their own backyards, including the Florida black bear and the American alligator.
While we can’t highlight all of the amazing animals at our Florida zoo in just one post, we did want to introduce you to just a few. Here are six of our residents we think you should get to know a little bit better!
- Poison dart frogs — Despite their name, the frogs you’ll find at our Sanford zoo are perfectly harmless! That’s because their toxicity comes from what they eat in their natural habitat. In human care, they don’t ingest insects that have eaten plants with toxins. In the wild, these colorful amphibians use their bright colors to warn predators about their poisonous skin, a tactic known as aposematic coloration. You can see for yourself by visiting them in the Herpetarium!
- Silvery-cheeked hornbills — Silvery-cheeked hornbills are African birds known for the large casque adorning the top of male’s bill. Their beaks are made of honeycomb-shaped bone with a thin layer of overlaying keratin, making them very lightweight despite their size!
- Orinoco crocodiles — Despite being South America’s largest predators, Orinoco crocodiles were almost hunted to extinction by humans in their native Colombia and Venezuela. A group of local farmers established a breeding and conservation program, which is now working with zoos to release and introduce individuals hatched in human care into their native habitats.
- Giraffe — Giraffes have adapted to feed on the treetops of the African savanna, leading them to become the tallest land mammal in the world! They serve an important role in their environment as a pollinator, carrying pollen in their ossicones from treetop to treetop as they feed. Their long prehensile tongues are used to grasp and rip leaves from branches. You can get a closer look with a giraffe feeding, where the giraffes at our zoo in central Florida will reach down to you and stretch their 18- to 20-inch long tongue to munch on a delicious treat right out of your hand!
- Clouded leopard — Native to the mountainous forests of Southeast Asia, clouded leopards are expert climbers! They use their tails to balance while climbing, and their specialized ankle bones allow them to climb upside down, hang from their back feet and grab prey with their front paws, or even climb headfirst down a tree. These beautiful cats are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List due to threats from poachers and habitat loss, which is why the SSP (Species Survival Plan) organizes the breeding of clouded leopards and many other endangered animals held in AZA-accredited zoos, including Central Florida Zoo.
- Greater one-horned rhinoceros — Greater one-horned rhinos, also called Indian rhinos, are the second largest rhino species, clocking in between 4,000-6000 pounds and able to grow over 6 feet tall! Their single horn can grow to be 8-25 inches long alone and will continue growing throughout their lifetime. You can meet PJ, the one-horned Indian rhino, who calls the Central Florida Zoo home, by booking a rhinoceros encounter!
Next time you find yourself looking for things to do in Orlando or Orlando attractions, consider stopping by to meet all these amazing species! From feeding a giraffe and seeing snakes slithering up close, you’ll get to discover the world’s most magnificent creatures at one of the best zoos in Florida. Start planning your visit here!