Central Florida zoo turns 37

Opening in its current location in Sanford, Florida back on July 4, 1975, the Central Florida Zoo has been entertaining and educating the many thousands of its visitors with a variety of animal exhibits, informative shows and demonstrations, zoo events, educational classes, and summer adventure camps for 36 years.

This year marks the zoo’s 37th birthday and even the monkeys are excited.

“My favorite animal at the zoo is the Black Howler Monkey,” expressed Olivia Jones, 9, at the zoo for a friend’s birthday party. “I think they saw the balloons I was holding and it made them really happy- like they wanted to party!”

Not only does the zoo have a birthday to celebrate, but it will also combine its 37-year bash with Fourth of July festivities, giving the visitors more reasons to hang out with the animals.

“I’ll definitely be at the zoo on the fourth,” said zoo fan, Mary Owens, mother of two. “We go every year to catch the music, games, and animal shows. My kids love it!”

The festivities begin on June 30 through July 1 from 9:00am until 3:00pm.

There will be activities for all ages including, games, food, live music, arts and crafts, face painting, a water slide, and animal encounters.

Sadly, what will be missing from this year’s celebration will be the watermelon-eating contest with Maude and Mary- the zoo’s former elephants.

On March 4, 2010, Mary the elephant died at the age of 63 leaving Maude the sole elephant in the Elephant Encounter exhibit. On February 21, 2011, Maude was relocated the Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens leaving room for the Rhinoceros Outpost exhibit to expand.

Other up and coming events the zoo holds annually include:

Black Tie on the Wild Side- A silent action with dinner and dancing all to benefit the zoo’s animals on August 18, 2012.

Fiesta del Coqui- Celebrating Hispanic culture with dancing and honoring the iconic coqui frog of Puerto Rico on September 16, 2012 from 10:00am to 5:00pm.

Zoo Boo Bash- A not-so-spooky Halloween party for children and adults alike with hayrides, trick-or-treat stations, and animal encounters on October 20, 21, 27, 28, 2012 from 9:00am to 3:00pm.

ZOOloween- A haunted party for adults 21 or older with adult spooky spirits, strange foods, live bands, zombie dancing, and a ghost train on October 20, 2012 from 7:00pm to midnight.