The drop in humidity and the diminished crowds make early Fall one of the best times of the year to experience the Emerald Coast‘s festivals and other special events. A perennial favorite of children and adults alike, Zoo World’s Zoobilee 2008 is coming up on September 27 and 28. Zoo World has staged the event for over a decade, with last year’s attendance counts coming in at over 8,000 visitors for the weekend. With admission for the event set a mere one dollar per visitor once again, Zoobilee promises to be a hit this year as well.
As in years past, a visit to Zoobilee promises to be a day of fun for the whole family. Visitors will find numerous special attractions, including a dunking booth, and prize giveaways throughout the day. Visitors may also purchase raffle tickets in drawings for various valuable prizes donated by local businesses. Although its famous animal shows will not take place during Zoobilee, the park has promised that many of the animals will be available throughout the event for posing with visitors for photographs.
Now in its sixteenth year of operation, Zoo World is a zoological and botanical conservatory housing over 200 exotic and, in many cases, endangered animals on over seven acres of lush vegetation. ZooWorld is an active member of the (UZA) United Zoological Association, and is also an active participant in the (SSP) species survival plan program. It is perhaps best known for its big cats and delightful shows featuring talented exotic birds. However, Zoo World is also home to a large variety of animals, including primates, giraffes, reptiles, and amphibians. Those visitors in search of a closer encounter can enjoy a petting zoo as well.
Zoo World is open year round and is always in need of both donations and volunteers. Interested parties who choose to donate their time can work as either Animal Keeper Volunteers or Gardener Volunteers, but in either case must be at least eighteen years old and in good physical condition. In order to participate, volunteers need to contact the park at least twenty-four hours in advance in order to be matched up for training with the correct Zoo World professionals.
One of the best things about a visit to Zoo World is that it offers parents a unique opportunity to help their children make connections between what they see on their favorite television shows like Nickelodeon’s “Go, Diego Go!” and their own lives. Over twenty million viewers a month tune in to watch Diego and his sister, Alicia, rescue various exotic animals, many of which can be found at our own Zoo World. The Spectacled Bear, Kinkajou, and Scarlet Macaw are just a few. Furthermore, an interest in exotic animals and their environments can have ramifications far beyond childhood.
In July 2008 Science Daily published an articled discussing a scientific study of children’s perceptions of tropical rain forest environments. “Turner and colleagues found that children’s awareness of rainforest biodiversity is highly developed, with the majority of the children depicting a rainforest with a diverse animal fauna, even though most have presumably never visited a rainforest. This knowledge of the natural world is crucial for inspiring and recruiting the next generation of naturalists and conservationists.” Children seem to have a natural affinity for animals and parks like Zoo World allow them to connect to nature by being in the presence of animals normally only seen in the wild.
As captivating as photographs and videotaped encounters can be, they cannot compare to the experience of being in close proximity to such fascinating creatures. It is often difficult in today’s high tech world for parents and caregivers to compete with television and videogames for their children’s attention, but special events like Zoobilee can at least help to level the playing field by providing a vibrant and memorable experience to treasure for years to come.
Zoo World is located at 9008 Front Beach Road. The gates open at 9:00 AM with the last admission at 4:30 PM. The park will close at 5:00. Free parking is available at the Super Walmart parking lot and free shuttle service will be provided from nine until five. Zoo World will provide free parking for handicapped drivers, all other drivers must pay a three dollar charge.
More can be learned about Zoo World at www.ZooWorldPCB.net.