The Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens, also called The Naples Zoo has a rich history dating back to 1969. The land was once the gardens for botanist Dr. Henry Nehrling. The Naples zoo has about 70 species, not all are on display. The zoo includes a mile long path of animal exhibits through tropical gardens that were first planted in 1919. Don’t miss the Primate Expedition Cruise that gets you close to the primate islands on the man made lake.
We spent the weekend in Naples celebrating my dad’s wedding. As we were driving to our hotel: The Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club we saw the Naples Zoo. We love going to the Zoo so we knew we wanted to go if we could find the time.
We are lucky to have the best zoos in South Florida like Zoo Miami, the Palm Beach Zoo and Lion Country Safari. The Naples Zoo was a fun experience, but I think it is best to know that it is a smaller walk-through zoo and it cannot compete with some of the zoos in South Florida. If we lower your expectations it is a fun family-friendly activity if you are in Naples. The zoo keepers do such a great job of thanking everyone for coming to help support their mission.
We even ran into another family from Boca when we were there. They were on their way home from Sarasota. It is the perfect stop by place to let the kids run around before driving home.
Naples Zoo is a nationally accredited zoo and nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable institution. If you enjoy gardens and tropical settings than this is the zoo for you. On the map the zoo looks huge, but it is about a mile walk. Sections of the zoo are focused on the historic tropical garden of exotic plants first planted in 1919 with a fascinating history.
In addition to the beautiful tropical setting the zoo is home to animals like lions, giraffes, monkeys, pythons, and bears. Naples Zoo is self funded and does not rely on taxes. Your visit, membership, and donations allows the zoo to take care of their animals and help support animals around the world. The honey badger below was one of our favorite animals.
This is the closet I think we have ever been to lions.
When we went to Africa we joked that we could make a photo book of the “Butts of Africa” we had a similar experience at the zoo this weekend.
This boat cruise is about 15 minutes. It takes you out to the islands were the monkeys and lemurs live. The captain does a great job of educating you about the animals. We found that the times listed on the map did not align with the times they took the boats. And the line got really long so be prepared to wait a few minutes. Each boat takes about 24 people.
Check your brochure to see the times for each of the “Meet the Keeper” talks. We went to the one with the giraffes. The keeper was so passionate about the animals and grateful for everyone being there. It was a great way to learn more about the animals, the behavioral enrichment programs at the zoo. You will discover how accredited zoos support the conservation of species for future generations both in and outside the wild.
The Safari Canyon open-air theater that hosts a fun shows showcasing wildlife you will not see in an exhibit. Arrive a few minutes early to learn wildlife trivia, recent conservation data, and fun nature facts. If you arrive late you can still go in just enter through the sides because they close the main entrance.
Alligator Bay Hand Feeding
We missed this experience, but it sounded cool to see. You’ll learn the truths behind the myths about the more than one million alligators that make their homes in Florida. This natural lake environment is also home to numerous native species, including an annual rookery of herons.
The Zoo offers very little protection from the sun. Make sure you bring sun protection including sun screen, hat and sunglasses. There is a lot of walking so you may want to bring a stroller or rent a wagon from the zoo directly. You may also want to bring water bottles. They have some water fountains, but in the heat you may want to have water with you. Don’t forget to bring your camera (or phone) since they have lots of photo opportunities.
Naples Zoo Hours of Operations
The Naples Zoo is open 7 days a week from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Note that they sell their last tickets at 4:00pm. Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is open every day except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
They may close for bad weather since there is little coverage.
Naples Zoo Location
They recommend you use their address 1590 Goodlette Road N, Naples FL 34102 for your GPS. Searching by name on some GPS units provides directions to an unaffiliated facility miles away from the zoo.
Washed Ashore Exhibit
They also have a special exhibit opening that is to help everyone visually see how much trash we are putting into the ocean. The artwork is made from trash found in the ocean.
Pin for Later: The Naples Zoo
The Naples Zoo Video Recap