Brevard Zoo voted top zoo in Florida, No. 3 in North America

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Brevard Zoo has been voted the No. 3 zoo in North America by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice awards.

A panel of travel experts worked with 10Best’s editorial team to choose the nominees for each category, and the winners were decided by popular vote. This is the fourth year Brevard Zoo was nominated as one of the best zoos in North America, and the first year the zoo has placed in the top three.

"Our inclusion in the top three – a first since we began being nominated for these awards four years ago – is a testament to the incredible support our zoo has been shown by our community since the start," Brevard Zoo said on its website. "We appreciate the vote of confidence in our work in animal wellness, conservation and education."

"Our zoo may not be as big as some of the others on the list, but we make up for that lack of size with immersive habitats, one-of-a-kind animal experiences, and a commitment to wildlife right here in our own backyard as well as around the globe," said Brevard Zoo communications manager Lauren Delgado. "We hope this brings more attention to our zoo and our amazing Space Coast community."

Brevard Zoo has been voted the No. 3 zoo in North America by USA Today's 10Best Readers' Choice awards.
Brevard Zoo has been voted the No. 3 zoo in North America by USA Today's 10Best Readers' Choice awards.

Manatee care: Brevard Zoo plans to open a facility to care for sick and injured manatees

Aquarium plans: Port Canaveral aquarium should break ground by fall 2024, feature manatee rehab facility

But the honors don't stop there. This is the first year that the zoo’s kayaking experiences have been voted the No. 7 zoo exhibit in North America.

Guests can choose from two kayaking experiences: a guided tour around the zoo’s Africa habitats or a self-guided adventure in the wetlands area.

A popular guest experience at Brevard Zoo is kayaking, which leads to close encounters with some animals. The experience was voted the No. 7 zoo experience in North America by the USA Today 10Best Reader's Choice awards.
A popular guest experience at Brevard Zoo is kayaking, which leads to close encounters with some animals. The experience was voted the No. 7 zoo experience in North America by the USA Today 10Best Reader's Choice awards.

Delgado noted that Brevard Zoo is looking forward to the 2024 opening of a permanent lion habitat in Expedition Africa. "This area will offer incredible views of our lion trio in an enriching habitat well-suited to their needs," she said.

The zoo also plans to break ground on a new aquarium at Port Canaveral by fall of 2024. The facility will include a manatee rehabilitation center to treat sickly and struggling sea cows as well as the Dr. Duane De Freese Coastal Conservation Hub, a three-story structure with laboratories where university researchers and students will study the Indian River Lagoon.

The zoo is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Admission is $31.95 for adults, $26.95 for seniors, $19.95 for children ages 3 to 11, and free for kids under three. For an additional cost, guests can feed giraffes and small parrots, go on a kayaking adventure, have up-close animal encounters or ride a train. Call 321-254-9453 or visit brevardzoo.org.

Christina LaFortune is the Entertainment and TGIF Editor at FLORIDA TODAY. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/christinalafortune or send her an email at clafortune@floridatoday.com.

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This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Brevard Zoo recognized as top in Florida, North America