Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cool zoo. Who knew?

GAINESVILLE — Tucked away on the campus of Santa Fe Community College is a place where people can not only learn about animals but learn from them.

At the Santa Fe Community College Teaching Zoo, visitors are treated to the sight of about 70 species from the most remote corners of the earth, including African leopard tortoises, South American guanacos (similar to llamas) and Matschie's tree kangaroos from New Guinea.

"The focus here is a little bit different," said Jack Brown, who teaches zoo animal technology and has served as zoo director since 1985. "We try to provide an atmosphere that people aren't likely to find anywhere else."

As the name implies, the zoo functions as a hands-on learning center for young people eyeing a career in the business. The 110 student workers from the zoo animal technology program do everything from conducting guided tours to cleaning cages.

"One of the first things they learn is that it's often very hard work that has little glamor to it," Brown said. "But if they are dedicated, there are plenty of personal rewards to be had."

Visitors to the sprawling 10-acre nature center will find plenty of rewards as well.

About three-quarters of the species inhabiting the zoo can be found only in the most elite U.S. zoos. Some animals, like the Perdido Key beach mouse and the Matschie's tree kangaroo, are rarely seen in the wild.

Youngsters will certainly enjoy many of the zoo's features, including up-close interaction with ocelots by way of a special glass viewing area designed into the animals' habitat.

Another popular tour stop is the reptile house, which contains several species of snakes and tortoises and even a couple of poison arrow frogs from Costa Rica.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1435.

If you go

The Santa Fe Community College Teaching Zoo is on the college's northwest campus at 3000 NW 83rd St. in Gainesville. The zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. except Halloween Eve, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and during semester breaks. Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for children 4-12 and seniors. Weekday visits require a guided tour, which must be scheduled three days in advance. Call Anita Courtot at (352) 395-5601 or e-mail anita.courtot@sfcc.edu. On Saturdays and Sundays, no reservations are needed; tours are conducted about every 30 minutes. For information, call (352) 395-5604.

Cool zoo. Who knew? 06/26/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 26, 2008 6:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 13-year-old Janessa's father holds memorial service at Rogers Middle School

    Crime

    RIVERVIEW — About 100 people sat in the tile-floored multipurpose room Saturday at Rodgers Middle School where Janessa Shannon once sat as a student.

    A mourner embraces Nahshon Shannon after the memorial service for Nahshon’s daughter, Janessa, Saturday at Rodgers Middle School in Riverview.
  2. Trump: Aircraft carrier a symbol of America's might (w/video)

    Politics

    NORFOLK, Va. — With praise and a blessing for the military, President Donald Trump helped hand over the USS Gerald R. Ford to the Navy on Saturday and said the state-of-the-art aircraft carrier will send a "100,000-ton message to the world" about America's military might when it is ultimately deployed.

    President Donald Trump commissions the USS Gerald R. Ford on Saturday in Norfolk, Va.
  3. Kushner discloses additional $10M in assets

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner "inadvertently omitted" more than 70 assets worth at least $10.6 million from his personal financial disclosure reports, according to revised paperwork released Friday.

    Kushner
  4. Virtual line tech leads to long waits at Universal's Volcano Bay

    ORLANDO — Customers are keeping Universal Orlando's new Volcano Bay waterpark filled to capacity most days, but not all are pleased with the experience.

  5. Police: Errant U.S. bombing kills 12 Afghan security forces

    World

    KABUL, Afghanistan — An errant U.S. airstrike confirmed by the Pentagon killed 12 Afghan National Police officers and wounded two others, as another 11 police were killed and six wounded in clashes with the Taliban, Afghan officials said Saturday.