Gulf Breeze Zoo
|Date opened||1984 (as The Zoo Northwest Florida),|
18 February 2010 (as Gulf Breeze Zoo)
|Location||Gulf Breeze, Florida, United States|
|Land area||50 acres (20 ha)|
|No. of animals||900|
|Major exhibits||train ride, petting area|
The Gulf Breeze Zoo (originally The Zoo Northwest Florida) is a 50-acre (20 ha) zoo located in Gulf Breeze, Florida. It has over 900 exotic animals including rhinos, hippos, Western lowland gorillas, and orangutans that visitors can view during an African preserve train ride. Activities include hand-feeding of some animals including giraffes. The Gulf Breeze Zoo supports captive breeding, wildlife conservation, and habitat preservation programs.
The zoo started on an acre of land on Burgess Road and later on a larger tract in Cantonment, Florida. It was established in its current location in 1984 by four local businessmen. Pat Quinn, one of the founders, became its first director. The zoo began with about 60 animals on 19 acres of land.
In 2004, unable to make a profit, the founders handed over ownership to the nonprofit Gulf Coast Zoological Society.
In 2004 and 2005, hurricanes Ivan and Dennis struck the area with devastating effect to the Zoo. It closed temporarily on August 17, 2009, awaiting the decisions from the governments of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties to provide $125,000 each in funding. On August 20, 2009, city officials announced that the closure of the zoo would be permanent.
In December 2009, the zoo was purchased and rescued by a team of zoological professionals from Virginia Safari Park of Natural Bridge, Virginia. It was renovated and reopened on February 18, 2010, as Gulf Breeze Zoo.
The Gulf Breeze Zoo is divided into 20 acres of walking exhibits and a 30 acres free roaming preserve area that guests take a guided train ride through. The walking portion includes many animals including primates, lions, tigers, marsupials, bears, tortoises, and a large variety of exotic birds such as peacocks, owls, macaws, rhea, emu, ostriches, toucans, flamingos and storks. The Zoo has several interactive feeding areas including a large petting area, a giraffe feeding area, and a walk-through parakeet enclosure. Other highlighted exhibits throughout the park include warthogs, otters, alligators, and camels. Primate exhibits include lemurs, gibbons, guenons, siamangs, golden headed lion tamarins, spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys, Western lowland gorillas, and orangutans. Activities include feeding some animals including giraffes and American alligators, as well as a free-flight Australian parakeet aviary.
Another unique area of the walking portion of the Zoo includes a large raised boardwalk that allows visitors to see herds of deer, antelope, capybara, kudu, Southern White rhino and the Orangutan Island.
A C.P. Huntington locomotive train takes visitors on a 20-minute guided tour, where they can see many different types of deer, antelope, zebras, and white rhinos roaming on 30 acres and get a close view of the gorillas and Nile hippos.
- Leavenworth, Christina (February 18, 2010). "Former Northwest Florida Zoo reopens". Fox 10. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
- "Hurricane Michael puts Gulf Breeze Zoo on alert". Pensacola News Journal. October 9, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
- Diaz, Julio (July 22, 2017). "What to do when there's 'nothing' to do in Pensacola". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
- Isern, Will (July 18, 2015). "Gulf Breeze Zoo faces challenges, uncertain future". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
- "Zoo Northwest Florida closes for good". Associated Press. August 20, 2009. Archived from the original on March 8, 2012. Retrieved November 7, 2019 – via Fox 10.
- Barker, Jeff (February 12, 2010). "The Zoo Northwest Florida to reopen this month". Northwest Florida Daily News. Archived from the original on October 17, 2010. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
- Newby, Jake (May 17, 2018). "Baby white rhino, Katana, is first ever born at Gulf Breeze Zoo". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
- Delaney, Anne (August 31, 2018). "Gulf Breeze Zoo welcomes two new babies — Gus the giraffe and Lexington the camel". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
- Newby, Jake (February 26, 2019). "Gulf Breeze Zoo welcomes family of orangutans from Connecticut conservation center". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
- Delaney, Anne (September 7, 2018). "Gulf Breeze's Shoreline Park South trails to be expanded, renovated". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
- Jackson, Tyra (June 3, 2018). "ZooWorld works with other zoos to find best pairs". The News Herald. Retrieved November 8, 2019.