Fortunately, zoos have been evolving more and more in this direction in recent years. And the Miami Metrozoo has been a world leader in the "cageless zoo" concept.
Children are sure to have a wonderful time in this 300-acre environment, which is surprisingly close to Miami's urban centers. Climate is a favorable factor: Metrozoo is the only zoo in the continental United States that has a subtropical climate.
For my family, the best moment was the stunning sight of a majestic white Bengal tiger in front of an archway that looked like it had been plucked from India.
From this magnificent start, winding walkways take you past Komodo dragons, gorillas, the highly-endangered black rhinoceros, African elephants, while your excited kids run ahead to see what's next. Metrozoo does more than display these animals, however; it's won awards for the successful breeding or endangered species.
Metrozoo also has an aviary, Children's Zoo, and special exhibits. A modest extra charge will get you a tram tour, or a ride on the Metrozoo Wildlife Carousel.
Tips for Visiting
- allow at least three hours to visit. Because the animals have extensive areas instead of cages, the zoo is a vast place.
- begin by riding the monorail around the zoo,, to get an overview.
- or take a tram tour, for a modest price (approx. $2.50-- check Metrozoo site for current price.)
- once you're on foot you'll be covering a lot of ground, so be sure everyone has comfortable footwear, and that babies and small kids are in their strollers.
- bring water, sunscreen and sunhats.
- you'll find plenty of shady rest-stops, and snack bars.
- Metrozoo has a great giftshop.