Billie Swamp Safari at the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation
Address: HC-61, Box 46, Clewiston, Florida 33440
Directions: I-75 to exit 49 (Government Rd. / Snake Rd.), then north 19 miles to the park entrance. Follow the signs.
Billie Swamp Safari is a 2200 acre eco-heritage wildlife park located on the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation in the western wet prairie of the Florida Everglades. The park offers swamp buggy tours, airboat rides, snake and alligator shows, a swamp critter show, day packages, and overnight stays in authentic chickee cabins, dining in the Swamp Water Cafe and a gift shop where Seminole arts and crafts and Everglades souvenirs may be purchased. Other tribal enterprises include the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, the Big Cypress RV Resort, storytelling and Big Cypress Hunting Adventures.
Everglades Wonder Gardens
Address: 27180 Old U.S. Hwy. 41, Bonita Springs, Florida 34135
Directions: (Near Fort Myers and Naples.) Take I-75 to exit 116. Go west on Bonita Beach Rd. about 2 miles, then go north on Old U.S. 41 about 1 mile. (The attraction is on the west side of U.S. 41.)
Everglades Wonder Gardens has over 2000 species of native wildlife and plants, including lush botanical gardens, wild Florida panthers, black bears, native and exotic birds, a live otter show, flamingos, rattlesnakes and reptiles. They have "Big Joe," the world's largest American Crocodile, weighing over 1000 pounds and 15 feet long. The park exits through a natural history museum and unique gift shop.
Gatorama Wildlife Park
Hours: 7 days weekly from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm.
Address: 6180 U.S. Hwy. 27, Palmdale, Florida
Directions: I-75 to exit 141. Go east on Hwy. 80 (Palm Beach Blvd.) for 24 miles to La Belle, then go north on Bridge St. for 1 mile, then east on Hwy. 29 for 13 miles, then south on U.S. Hwy. 27 about 1.5 miles.
Gatorama claims, "The largest collection of alligators and crocodiles, anywhere." It is one of Florida's first alligator attractions, started in 1957, the home of a few hundred alligators. When U.S. Hwy. 27 was paved n the mid-1960's, it became the main route between Tampa and Miami, making Gatorama a thriving tourist attraction. However when I-75 and the Florida Turnpike were built in the 1970's, the attraction suffered. New owners changed Gatorama into an operating alligator farm and alligator attraction in 1986. Gatorama covers 15 acres of giant oaks and palms and boasts a covered 1000 foot walkway and wooden bridge. Visitors can view alligators, monkeys, bobcats, raccoons, peacocks, ducks, geese and 6 species of crocodiles including the American Crocodile. Gatorama is the largest captive breeder of the Acutus Crocodile in North America.
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm (rain or shine)
Address: 14501 South Orange Blossom Trail, Kissimmee, Florida
Directions: Florida Turnpike to exit 249, then west on Osceola Pky for about 1.5 miles, then go north on U.S. Hwy. 92/441 for about 1.5 miles. Gatorland is on the right, near Sea World, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and the Orlando International Airport (near the Orlando - Kissimmee border).
Gatorland bills itself as ""Orlando's Best Half Day Park" and "The Alligator Capital of the World." It is a 110-acre alligator theme park and wildlife preserve that has provided family entertainment since 1949. Gatorland offers a display of alligators and crocodiles, train rides, aviaries, a bird sanctuary, breeding marshes, a petting zoo, a nature walk, a gift shop, and 3 animal shows, each repeated several times daily, including "The World Famous Gator Jumparoo." Park information states free parking and no large lines.
Gator Park Airboat Tours
Hours: Monday – Sunday from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm. The last show begins at 5:00 pm.
Address: 24050 SW 8th St., Miami, Florida 33187
Directions: From Florida Turnpike (S.R. 821) South, take Exit 25 (S.W. 8th Street/U.S. 41) and travel west for exactly 12 miles. On the left, you will see a large Coca-Cola can with an Airboat on top, and that’s Gator Park.
At Gator Park, you can walk around and see the resident turtles, macaws, peacocks and snakes, such as the blackpine, brooks kingsnake, Florida kingsnake and red ratsnake. At the wildlife show you can see alligator wrestling or hold a baby alligator in your arms. Gator Park also offers airboat rides that take you deep into Everglades National Park where you'll see alligators, turtles, snakes, fish and exotic birds. Tours are narrated by professional guides who will explain the wetlands and its native inhabitants.
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
4150 S. Suncoast Blvd. (U.S. Hwy. 19)
Homosassa, FL 34446
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a showcase for Florida Wildlife, offering visitors the opportunity to observe native animals, birds and plants in their natural setting. Walk along a naturally beautiful boardwalk and view many Florida species, including cougars, bear, white-tailed deer, bobcats, otters and foxes.
Informative educational programs are offered daily on manatees, alligators, birds of prey, Florida snakes, alligators and hippopotamuses. Daily educational programs: Wildlife Encounters at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.; West Indian Manatee Programs at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.; and the Alligator/Hippopotamus Program at 12:30 p.m.
A large, 45-foot deep natural spring, from which millions of gallons of water bubble every hour, flows along the Park's "Fishbowl," the centerpiece of this 210-acre park. The springs are the headwaters of the beautiful Homosassa River that flows nine miles west into the Gulf of Mexico. Saltwater and freshwater fish are attracted to these natural springs with their constant, year-round temperature of 72 degrees F. A floating underwater observatory inside the springs allows the visitor to view fish and manatee at close range. About 350 volunteers help in the operation, maintenance and improvement of the park. Food Concessions at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park are provided through 'Remember When Restaurant' at the park's Visitor Center. The Manatee Café is located at the park's West Entrance on Fishbowl Drive.
The park has many reptiles, including venomous and non-venomous Florida snakes, two Gopher tortoises, many turtles and the American alligator and crocodile.
There are six venomous snakes found in Florida, and all are on display in the reptile exhibit. Five of the six venomous snakes are known as pit vipers and all require the same anti-venom for bites. The exception is the Coral snake which has a different type of venom and requires a different anti-venom. The venom of the pit viper is known as a hemotoxin. It attacks skin and muscle tissue and can cause extensive tissue damage. The venom of the Coral snake is known as a neurotoxin which attacks the central nervous system.
Every known species of the gopher tortoise is considered threatened. These animals are very important to the ecosystem. They dig deep burrows which are used by other animals, including the burrowing owl and various snakes. The southeastern species is found throughout Florida. Its carapace coloration is dark brown without lighter areas or markings on the marginal plates.
The alligator is commonly known as a gator. Alligators are found throughout the entire Southeastern United States. Crocodiles are found mainly in the Florida Everglades. Gators usually occupy freshwater swamps and marshes, but are also found in rivers and lakes.
Miccosukee Indian Village - Indian Gator Wrestling
Hours: Daily from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm
Address: U.S. Hwy. 41 (Tamiami Trail), Miami, Florida 33144
Directions: Take U.S. Hwy. 41 (Tamiami Trail) to mile marker 70 where you'll see the Miccosukee Indian Village. (30 minutes west of Miami in Dade County.)
At the Miccosukee Indian Village, you can experience how the Miccosukee Indian Tribe existed, and still exists, in the “Heart of the Everglades.” Guides take you on a tour through the past, present, and future of their history, culture and lifestyle. Includes an Indian Village, a museum, attractions and air boat rides. See demonstrations and exhibits of woodcarving, patchwork, beadwork, basket weaving and doll making. Crafts sold at the Miccosukee Gift Shop include Miccosukee patchwork and beadwork, Cherokee moccasins and Navajo silver jewelry
Jungle Adventures Nature Park
Hours: 365 days per year, 9:30 am until 5:30 pm, rain or shine.
Address: 26205 E. Colonial Dr. (State Road 50), Christmas, Florida 32709.
Directions: Take S.R. 50 to Christmas, Florida (17 miles east of Orlando and 8 miles west of Titusville), where you will see Swampy, a 200-feet-long roadside alligator replica.
Jungle Adventures Nature Park is a natural habitat parks that offers guided wildlife encounters with rare Florida panthers, black bears, gray wolves, white-tailed deer, tropical birds, reptiles and mammals. You can take a Jungle Swamp Cruise and be surrounded by more than 200 alligators. Park features include the Jumpin' Gator Jamboree Gator Feeding, seeing how the Spanish Conquistadores lived during the 16th Century at the Spanish Fort replica or a guided exploration of the Native American Indian Village replica.
Hours: Daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Address: 4580 W. Hwy. 192 (4580 West Irlo Bronson Highway) Kissimmee, Florida 34746
Location: Near Kartworld and Medieval Times, 6 miles east of I-4 and 2 miles east of State Road 535, at 4580 W. Hwy. 192 - at the 120-foot roadside plaster alligator.
Jungleland is a small zoo specializing in “exotic” animals, set on a half-mile looping path. It houses about 300 specimens and has feed dispensers along the way so that you can feed many of the animals. The zoo features three shows daily in a 300-feet ampitheatre, including a Cat Show, featuring tigers and a puma; a magic show titled, Magic of the Rainforest; and The Bushmasters Gator Show.
Residents include primates, including the zoo's only orangutan, Radcliffe, who responds to hand signals such as placing your hand on your head as if you have a headache or sneezing with your hand over your nose, and the verbal command, "smile;" African leopards and lions, brother and sister Bengal tigers, an older Siberian tiger; North American cats, including cougars, lynx, and bobcats; and unusual cats, such as the African caracal with its distinctive ears and the dog-sized serval, which once was the house cat of Egyptian royalty.
Native Village: Gator Wrestling
Address: 3551 N. State Road 7, Hollywood, Florida 33021
Directions: Native Village is on the Seminole Indian Reservation. Take I-595 to exit 8B. Go south on Hwy. 441 for 2.5 miles. Native Village is on the northbound side of the highway, just south of Stirling Rd. (Hwy. 848).
Native Village is one of the oldest, all-natural native attractions in Florida. The private zoo and wildlife sanctuary is dedicated to "eco-tourism," a unique experience for close encounters with native wildlife. Enjoy nature tours, animal exhibits, the museum and gift shop. Walk through the Native Village and step back through time. Enjoy a wildlife show - hold a baby alligator or touch a Florida panther. The dinner bell rings four times a day and you can watch the tour guide feed the aligators. Personalized educational tours are available for large and small groups, individuals or private parties.
Parrot Jungle Island:
Hours: Monday through Friday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm; Saturday & Sunday from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm
Address: 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, Florida
Directions: Take I-95 to exit 2-D onto I-395 East (MacArthur Causeway). Go over the bridge, then take the first right onto Parrot Jungle Trail. Follow the road around and under the causeway to the parking garage on the left side.
Parrot Jungle is home to around 1100 tropical birds, 2000 varieties of plants and flowers, the Ichimura Miami Japan Garden (an exact replica of garden in Tokyo, Japan that was started in the 1950's) and "the best trained bird show in the world." The park also features one of the world's largest crocodiles, along with reptiles, snakes, a ligor (a mix of a lion & tiger), and orangutans. A new attraction is an inflated Hippo Water Slide that stands 3 stories tall with a 40 degree drop. Jungle Tour Packages include the "VIP Safari", a 90 minute guided tour of the animals with their trainers (available for parties of 2 or more) that includes lunch at the Lakeside Cafe, a T-shirt, park admission, a gift shop discount, and parking; and "Wild Encounter" which includes 30 to 45 minutes with a baby chimpanzee or orangutan, baby tigers, and other exotic animals (as available). Strollers & wheelchairs are available for rental.
5656 E. Silver Springs Blvd. (State Rd. 40)
Silver Springs, Florida 34488
DIRECTIONS: Located 90 miles north of Orlando and 9 miles east of Ocala on S.R. 40, also called Silver Springs Blvd. Take exit 352 east off I-75, or exit 268 west off I-95.
HOURS OF OPERATION: Silver Springs is open 365 days a year, from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The park's hours during the Festival of Lights hours are dusk until 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 23, 24 & 30, and Dec. 1, 7, 8 & 14-30.
FREE PET KENNELS: Silver Springs offers free, shaded kennels with running water for your pet to stay in during your day at the park.
SHOPS AND CONCESSIONS: Silver Springs has shops selling gifts and novelties, sandwiches, pizza, ice cream, fudge, cookies, drinks and beer.
Silver Springs nature theme park, billed as "Florida's Natural Wonder," can be confortably viewed in a day. You can also enjoy the adjacent six-acre seasonal park, Wild Waters Water Park.
Silver Springs is a beautiful 350-acre nature theme park that surrounds the headwaters of the Silver River, the largest artesian spring formation in the world. At Silver Springs, you can view the underground springs and the Silver River from glass-bottom boats and see fish, shellfish, turtles and alligators in crystal clear water that’s up to 80 feet deep and 99.8% pure.
You can take the Jeep Safari to view animals in a 35-acre natural environment, and walk the beautiful park grounds to experience the natural habitats of large alligators, endangered bears and panthers, giraffes, the Kritter Korral petting zoo, plus a variety of wildlife shows, including Wings of the Springs Bird Show, featuring hawks, eagles, owls, falcons, vultures, parrots, macaws and cockatoos; the Reptile Show, featuring crocodiles, alligators and turtles; and the Non-Venemous Snake Show.
Twice daily, you can speak with the bearkeepers and pantherkeepers and, once daily during the summer months, you can view the alligator and crocodile feedings. There are rides and exhibits, for all ages, in a natural setting of stunning beauty. Enjoy live entertainment at various times during the year; call the park at (352) 236-2121, for the entertainment schedule.
The 'Science of Supercroc' display by Project Exploration can be viewed through August 26, 2007. View a huge, ancient crocodile skeleton that was pieced together by archaeologists, and learn about the expedition through a short film and displays.
In the 1930's, Colonel Tooey, a concessionaire who operated the Jungle Cruise boat ride, established a troop of wild rhesus monkeys on an island in the Silver River, in order to attract visitors to his ride. However, Toomey did not realize the rhesus monkeys were excellent swimmers. They quickly escaped and formed wild troops along the river, which can be viewed during the tours.
From 1932 to 1942, six of the original Tarzan movies, starring Johnny Weissmuller, were filmed on location at Silver Springs.
From 1958 to 1961, more than 100 episodes of the TV series, "Sea Hunt," starring Lloyd Bridges, were filmed at Silver Springs. Lost River Voyage, a glass bottom boat tour, begins where the Sea Hunt TV series was filmed and continues one mile down the Silver River, showcasing an untouched and untamed part of Florida. Bridges' stand-in diver for the series, a young man who was then in his teens, is now Chief of Security at Silver Springs. On the Lost River Voyage, large alligators can be viewed that are 10 to 12 feet long, as old as 65 years of age and weighing 800 to 1000 pounds!
In 1973, Silver Springs began a Wildlife Rehabilitation Program to rescue and rehabilitate injured wild animals. The Lost River Tour stops by the Wildlife Rehabilitation Program, and a rescue worker comes to the dock to explain the program to people on the tour and introduce animals that are either being rehabilitated or living at the park because they're unable to function in the wild due to their injuries.
St. Augustine Alligator Farm
Address: 999 Anastasia Road, St. Augustine, Florida 32080
Directions: From I-95, take Exit 311 (S. R. 207), turning east toward St. Augustine. Drive 3.7 miles, then turn right onto S.R. 312 and go 3.6 miles (crossing U.S. 1 and going over a bridge spanning the Intracoastal Waterway). Turn left (north) onto A-1-A / Anastasia Blvd., and drive 1.5 miles north to the farm (which is on the left).
Through the underviewing windows, Maximo can be viewed. At 15 feet 3 inches and 1250 pounds, he is the largest animal in the park. Maximo is a Saltwater Crocodile or "saltie" as crocodiles are called in Australia. His egg was collected and hatched by aborigines who sold him to the Cairns Crocodile Farm in Australia. He grew to be 15 feet in less than 30 years and should live to be 60 to 80 years old. Saltwater crocodiles are the largest of all the crocodilians, sometimes reaching a length of 18 feet.
Also explore the native swamp exhibit, where hundreds of wading birds fly in to roost in their natural environment in the late afternoons - herons, egrets, ibis, spoonbills, and wood storks. The birds roost above alligators, knowing that the alligators will keep tree-climbing predators away.
From April through July, the birds are in full breeding plumage, building nests and raising families right in front of visitors. See rare albino alligators from the bayous of Louisiana; a legend claims that those who gaze upon them will receive good fortune. "Gomek Forever" is a massive work of art almost 18 feet long and nearly 2000 pounds; Gomek was one of the largest crocodilians ever on display; he is now preserved and part of a rare and beautiful collection of hand carved Papua New Guinea art.
See exotic birds such as South American toucans and parrots, Australian kookaburras and emus, Asian pheasants, and African turacos and mammals, which include 7 species of endangered monkeys which range in size from the world's smallest monkey, the mouse-sized pygmy marmoset, to the large South American spider monkey that swings across the branches of its exhibit.