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Celebrate Zoo and Aquarium Month: Explore the Wonders Available Here on the Suncoast

| Angela Naff |

June is Zoo and Aquarium Month, a time to celebrate and support the incredible institutions that connect us with the diverse and fascinating wildlife of our planet. The Suncoast is uniquely positioned to offer residents and visitors alike an array of opportunities to explore both zoos and aquariums, each providing unique experiences and educational programs. Here’s a guide to some of the must-visit zoos and aquariums up and down the Suncoast, where you can enjoy exciting encounters with animals and support their vital conservation efforts.

1. Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium

Location: 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is a renowned marine research institution and public aquarium. Visitors can explore a variety of exhibits showcasing local marine life, including sharks, sea turtles, manatees, and more. Interactive touch pools and educational programs make it a perfect destination for families and marine enthusiasts. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about Mote’s groundbreaking research and conservation efforts.

2. The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature

Location: 201 10th Street W, Bradenton, FL 34205

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature features the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat, where visitors can meet and learn about these gentle giants. The museum also offers engaging exhibits on Florida’s natural history and a planetarium, making it a well-rounded educational destination.

3. Sarasota Jungle Gardens

Location: 3701 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL 34234

Sarasota Jungle Gardens is a historic zoo and botanical garden where visitors can encounter a wide variety of animals, including exotic birds, reptiles, and mammals. The lush tropical gardens provide a serene backdrop for exploring and attending interactive animal shows. Kids will love the petting zoo and the opportunity to feed flamingos by hand.

4. Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary

Location: 7101 Palmer Boulevard, Sarasota, FL 34240

Dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating big cats and other exotic animals, Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary is a must-visit for animal lovers. The sanctuary offers educational programs and up-close encounters with lions, tigers, bears, and other rescued animals. Visitors can learn about the importance of wildlife conservation and the sanctuary’s efforts to provide a safe haven for these magnificent creatures.

5. Sarasota National Cemetery’s Patriot Plaza

Location: 9810 State Road 72, Sarasota, FL 34241

While not a traditional zoo or aquarium, Patriot Plaza at Sarasota National Cemetery features stunning artwork and educational displays that honor the service and sacrifice of the U.S. military. The plaza includes a mosaic mural depicting various animals, making it a unique and reflective place to visit during Zoo and Aquarium Month.

6. Florida Aquarium (Tampa)

Location: 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602

This world-class aquarium features a wide range of exhibits, from freshwater environments to coral reefs and open ocean habitats. Highlights include a walk-through aviary, a large shark tank, and interactive programs like swim and dive experiences. The Florida Aquarium also emphasizes conservation, with programs focused on sea turtle rescue and coral reef restoration.

Support Your Local Zoos and Aquariums

Visiting and supporting these incredible institutions not only provides a memorable experience but also contributes to vital conservation and education efforts. By participating in Zoo and Aquarium Month, you help ensure the survival of endangered species, the advancement of scientific research, and the continued education of future generations.

How You Can Help

  • Visit: Plan a trip to one or more of these local attractions. Each visit helps fund the care of animals and the maintenance of facilities.
  • Donate: Consider making a financial contribution to support conservation programs and animal care.
  • Volunteer: Many zoos and aquariums offer volunteer opportunities. Your time and skills can make a significant difference.
  • Spread the Word: Share your experiences on social media and encourage others to visit and support these vital institutions.

This Zoo and Aquarium Month, take the time to explore the wonderful zoos and aquariums here on the Suncoast. Each visit not only offers a chance to connect with nature but also supports the crucial work of wildlife conservation and education. Let’s come together to celebrate and protect the amazing creatures that share our planet.

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

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