Mail: Brevard Zoo
8225 North Wickham Road
Melbourne, FL 32940
“Wildlife conservation through education and participation.”
To support that mission, we focus on:
We are a small zoo
It began as a small group of people with a big dream: building a zoo. A world-class zoo that would serve as a conservation hub where people could gather to learn about animals, nature and conservation. A place to escape from the manmade world and reconnect with the diversity of the life with which we share this planet.
They had the vision, but they needed the resources. Former Florida Today publisher Frank Vega recruited several community leaders and the dream began to take shape. Executives from the major aerospace companies collaborated to craft architectural designs and provide labor for this ambitious project. A. Duda and Sons graciously donated a large tract of land just east of Interstate 95—a prime location for the Zoo.
The next major show of support came from the county commissioners. Through the Tourism Development Council, they committed a $2.5 million loan to be paid back with 15% of the one-third penny hotel tax.
Another fundraising effort included the establishment of a 303-member Founder’s Society that helped the Zoo match a $500,000 grant from the state. More money was raised by selling T-shirts and thousands of memberships, all before the Zoo was even built!
More than anything, these early fundraising successes illustrate the incredibly high level of community support the Zoo has enjoyed since its inception. This small band of dedicated people had raised $3.5 million and recruited more than 16,000 volunteers to construct the largest community-built zoo in the world.
In March 1994, the Zoo opened its gates to the public. Visitors delightedly meandered the newly built boardwalks, exploring a thick native Florida forest as the animals settled into their new homes. A jaguar, tapirs, anteaters and a myriad of monkeys and birds inspired fascination and a passion for conservation.
La Selva, Wild Florida and the innovative Paws On play area were the first areas of the Zoo to be constructed. Australasia made its debut in 1996 and Expedition Africa opened in 2003. Treetop Trek, a parallel attraction consisting of five expansive aerial obstacle courses, welcomed its first guests in 2011.
As the Zoo itself grew, so did its commitment to conservation and education. The Zoo is involved in efforts to restore native oysters and mangroves in the Indian River Lagoon to ensure cleaner water and stable shorelines. The Sea Turtle Healing Center opened in early 2014, and it is the only sea turtle rehabilitation center in Brevard County.
Through daily presentations, summer camps, field trips and an onsite “Zoo School,” the Zoo’s education department impacts tens of thousands of children each year. As part of the “Lagoon Quest” program, every fourth grader in Brevard Public Schools is brought to the Lagoon for two full days of hands-on exploration and learning.
Click here to see our board of directors.
More than two decades later, we have held steadfast to our mission and exceeded our expectations. We have earned 90% of our funds through admission-related income. We welcome more than 400,000 guests annually, with 40% from outside the county, and our annual economic impact exceeds $28 million. With the help of the community, the Zoo has continually been recognized as a leading institution in top ten zoo lists and awards from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. We now look ahead to build on our success for the next 20 years!
Brevard Zoo has accreditation and membership with industry-leading organizations, and often receives grant support from these institutions: