Zoo Miami: Into the Wild

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Your kids desperately want to go on an exotic animal safari. While you’d love to help them expand their minds with such an experience, you’re not quite ready to fly the family to Africa. Fortunately, there’s no need to travel far if you’re in Miami. Simply pay a visit to the more than 2,000 animals at Zoo Miami–including several big cats–and everybody will get a taste of the wild life and still make it home in time for dinner.

As you venture toward the zoo’s colorful entrance, you are greeted with your first decision of the day — shall you start your journey in Australia, Asia, Africa, the Amazon, or somewhere else? No matter which one you pick, it won’t take 80 days to travel around the world here.

You’ve wisely allowed the kids to lead the way into the Amazon, and now they’re eyeing the golden poison dart frog, the most toxic on the plant, with fascination. Then, they’re snapping photos of spectacular harpy eagles, whose immense wingspan measures up to six feet. Set aside a few minutes to pose with a blue macaw, whose fame was solidified in the animated flick, Rio. Later, count the colors in the rainbow feathers of a mandarin duck together — quacking is optional.

Since you’re here for a safari, after all, you point your group in the direction of Africa. You’ll get to the stars soon enough, so take some time to gaze at less popular animals like the adorable African crested porcupine (petting not recommended), the greater kudu (something like an elk with really cool spiral horns), and the handsome black lemur–a social little animal who, like many Miami residents, is really into personal grooming.

Now you’re ready for the iconic African animals, so follow your young guides to pygmy hippos, silverback gorillas, zebras, hyenas, and African elephants so tall they dwarf most of the zoo buildings. Finally, you find yourselves face to face with panthera leo, a.k.a. the African lion, and he doesn’t disappoint. With a massive reddish-blond mane, a mouthful of pointy white teeth, and a muscular body, you all quickly realize why he’s considered the king of the beasts.

Before you leave, tell your kids that you have one more surprise planned. They’ll scream with delight when you reveal that you’ll be taking an adventurous camel ride around the park. Opt to pay for the professional photo of your little ones’ beaming smiles as they clench their camel’s hump with both hands — there’s a spot on your refrigerator just waiting for such a classic family picture.

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