The Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo is a ten-acre wooded forest with natural trails located on the main campus of Santa Fe College, and is one of only two teaching zoos in the country. The zoo is home to a variety of native plants and more than 65 exotic animals.
Upon arrival at the zoo, guests pay admission. Here, visitors are given a token that represents 25-cents of what they just paid. Once in the zoo, visitors choose from three conservation efforts to donate their 25-cents to: The North Florida Wetlands Conservation Project, The Crocodile Specialists Group, or Earthwatch’s Trinidad Ocelot Project.
The zoo is run by Santa Fe faculty and students in the Zoo Animal Technology Program who are ready to answer any questions and give visitors information on each animal.
There are over 65 animals at the zoo, but one of the most special is the Guam Rail, a small ground bird. What makes the flightless bird so special is that it is extinct in the wild because of the brown tree snake. The Santa Fe Zoo has successfully bred Guam Rails and released some back into the wild on the island of Rota which is about 40 nautical miles north of Guam.
But many of the animals have unique stories as to how they ended up at the zoo. We were lucky enough to meet Millie M. Falcon, a Peregrine Falcon who injured her wing in the wild. Millie now lives at the zoo and has a special habitat that caters to her specific needs. She got her name from an employee at the zoo who was a huge Star Wars fan. If that sounds confusing at first, check out her name again, and think about how fast she could do the Kessel Run.
The zoo has lots of animals to visit, but perhaps none cuter than the squirrel monkeys. These tiny monkeys live in groups of 20 or more in the wild and love to speak. They use a variety of different sounds to communicate with their friends and visitors.
But while the squirrel monkey is loud, it is not quite as loud as the endangered White-Handed Gibbon. We could head the Gibbons before we even stepped foot in the zoo! Gibbon pairs sing a duet every day to their mate that strengthens their bond.
How’s that for a love story?
Lots of the animals at the Santa Fe Teaching Zoo live with their families. The Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo mother and joey live in a habitat right next to dad. When we visited, the joey was about one year old and had just come out of the pouch. The tree kangaroos come from rainforests in the Huon Peninsula of Papua New Guinea.
The Santa Fe Teaching Zoo is a great learning experience for explorers both young and old. It is open seven days a week from 9 am – 2 pm.
Admission is $6 for adults; $5 for children, seniors, and UF faculty and students; and free for children 3 & under and Santa Fe Students.
The Teaching Zoo is also available for birthday parties and guided tours. So you know where we are going to spend our next birthday.