Zoo Miami is preparing for the grand opening festivities in celebration of its newest exhibit, Florida: Mission Everglades, on December 10 & 11, 2016.
The $33 million attraction, occupying 4.5 acres, has been created to showcase the region’s flora and fauna, many of which are endangered or threatened.
“We’re very excited to see this project open to the public, ” commented the zoo’s Director, Carol Kruse. “The goal of Florida: Mission Everglades is to give our visitors a deeper understanding of the importance of the Everglades and to engage them in helping us save it. We want visitors to be inspired to actually visit the Everglades.”
Visitors will enter the new exhibit from the recently opened Entry Plaza where they will be immediately immersed in the sights and sounds of a songbird aviary filled with blue jays, doves, red-bellied wood peckers and other native birds. After passing a naturalistic lake inhabited by pelicans and wading birds, they can choose a couple of novel ways to explore the next sections including sliding through the North American river otter exhibit and crawling through a tunnel at the American crocodile exhibit.
Further along, guests will encounter Florida’s biggest and most impressive land mammals, the North American black bear and the endangered Florida panther. A variety of viewing opportunities and demonstrations by zoo keepers are intended to give guests a better understanding of, and stronger connection to, the region’s wildlife.
A couple of highlights will undoubtedly be the elevated boardwalk area, which features a rope bridge, and the Lostman’s River ride, developed by WhiteWater, that allows guests to float through the heart of the ‘Everglades’ on a slow-moving boat with plenty of surprises in store.
Designed by PJA Architects, both phases of the project were a collaborative effort of the Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, Zoo Miami and Zoo Miami Foundation. This project was funded primarily by the “Building Better Communities” General Obligation Bond Programme.