This 290-acre, sparsely landscaped complex is quite a distance from Miami proper and the beaches -- about 45 minutes -- but worth the trip. Isolated and never really crowded, it's also completely cageless -- animals are kept at bay by cleverly designed moats. This is a fantastic spot to take younger kids (the older ones seem bored and unstimulated here); there's a wonderful petting zoo and play area, and the zoo offers several daily programs designed to educate and entertain. Mufasa and Simba (of Disney fame) were modeled on a couple of Metrozoo's lions. Other residents include two rare white Bengal tigers, a Komodo dragon, rare koala bears, a number of kangaroos, and an African meerkat. The air-conditioned Zoofari Monorail tour offers visitors a nice overview of the park. The zoo is always upgrading its facilities, including the impressive aviary. A cool exhibit is The Samburu Giraffe Feeding Station, where, for $2, you get to feed the giraffes veggies. Opened in late 2008, Tropical America, featuring jaguars, anacondas, giant river otters, harpy eagles, sting ray touch tanks, air-conditioned buildings, and a unique display of a forest before and during flood times. At 27 acres and $35 million, the exhibit is massive and makes Metrozoo the third Zoo in the country to have Giant River Otters, its keystone species. Private tours and overnights are also available for those who really want to commune with nature. Note: The distance between animal habitats can be great, so you'll do a lot of walking here. There are benches and shaded gazebos strategically positioned throughout the zoo so you can rest when you need to. Also, because the zoo can be miserably hot during summer months, plan these visits in the early morning or late afternoon. Expect to spend about 3 hours here.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010