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A tour group explores Rainforest Revealed.

Adventure awaits with all the opportunities we offer to interact with our animal residents, whether it’s feeding giraffes lettuce or getting up close and personal in our free-flight aviaries. But if you want the behind the scenes scoop on how we ensure our animals are happy and healthy, join us for a tour!

We currently offer three tours – a private guided tour option, Closer Look: Rainforest Revealed Experience and our Behind the Care: Africa tour.

On our exclusive tour option, your private group will be accompanied by a charismatic member of our Education team who’s got the inside scoop about the Zoo! You can tailor your hour-long adventure by picking which areas of the Zoo you want to explore together!

For a more in-depth look at one of our loops, our Closer Look: Rainforest Revealed experience is a guided tour through our Rainforest Revealed loop. Education Curator Amy Shea explained that a trained education specialist will, “take you around the Rainforest Revealed loop and they will stop at different habitats and give you an inside view. Then at the very end, you’ll meet up with one of our animal keepers, where you will meet one of our animal residents and get to have an interaction if they’re feeling up to it.”

“We created these tours as a way for our guests to have a closer view into the work that we do, and also an opportunity to connect with our animals in ways that they might not otherwise have the opportunity,” Amy said.

Guests approach the Africa Barn at Brevard ZooFor the Behind the Care: Africa experience, guests will be guided behind the scenes to see all the inner workings of the Zoo including our commissary, quarantine barn, browse dumpster and more! Amy hopes this tour provides participants with a better understanding of how our Zoo works as a whole.

“It’s one thing for me to tell you that we provide the best possible diet for animals, but it’s another thing to go back and see how all the food in the kitchen is prepared and the effort that goes into that. So, I think it’s a little bit more of a peek behind the curtain of what’s happening,” said Amy.

A Look Behind the Scenes

From the time you start your tour until the very end, you will be learning about what it really takes to provide the best possible lives for every single animal under our care, including how the Zoo elevates the animals’ diet, habitat design, enrichment, and training.

Two female zookeepers are outside a Baird's tapir habitat. One woman is using a stick to give the tapir a massage.As part of the Closer Look: Rainforest Revealed tour experience, after hearing all about these four elements that provide animal wellbeing, guests may have the opportunity to help Rainforest Revealed keepers with tactile training of our Baird’s tapirs! Area supervisor of Rainforest Revealed, Sidnee Santana-Mellor, shares that, “a lot of our tapir training is done through tactile and not through reinforcement with food like a lot of our other animals.”

For our tapir Antonio, the tactile training enables keepers to monitor and manipulate parts of his body, including his front foot that he has hoof issues with. Training, “allows us to make their lives easier because a lot of the things that we’re doing with them, if we didn’t have this training and the setup and the barns that we do, we would have to anesthetize them to do those things, which is a lot because they’re larger animals,” Sidnee said.

Sidnee stresses the importance of these interactions with the tapirs because they, “create that connection, so that people understand what we are doing can directly impact what happens out in their natural range because we’re basically winning hearts for animals.”

 Affecting Conservation Throughout the World

Not only do these tour experiences foster connections with animals throughout the world, but they also help raise awareness for conservation efforts.

Our Behind the Care: Africa tour experience includes the opportunity to interact with our stars of Africa, giraffes Greg and Mapenzi. Tamara Thompson, the area supervisor for the Africa Barn, shares the necessity for giraffe conservation. “Giraffes have been going through what is called a silent extinction… Within the last three and a half decades, the populations have dropped about 30%, so there’s only about 117,000 giraffes in all of Africa.”

“People don’t realize the decline in recent years with human population growing, agriculture, habitat loss, fragmentation, and poaching. All these things are making the giraffe population decline,” Tamara continued.

“It’s amazing to come to work every day to work with giraffes,” gushes Tamara. She hopes that when guests on the tour get to see them and gain that connection, they learn not only how awesome these animals are, but how they are declining and we can help them.

Conservation coordinator Alyssa Rice said, “I hope these tours really do inspire people to want to participate more in species conservation because the things they can do here at the zoo does affect conservation all over the world.”

In addition to inspiring conservation efforts, a portion of the proceeds from each of the tours goes to support field conservation of these animals. For the Closer Look: Rainforest Revealed tour, $50 from every experience is donated to the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative. For the Behind the Care; Africa tour, $50 from every experience is donated to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Through September of 2023, the Zoo has raised $700 for conservation efforts for tapirs and giraffes.

Alyssa explains that, “the conservation work these organizations do applies to so many species in their area. So, when we talk about impact, that’s one of those things that by focusing on this animal, you’re actually helping tons of species at one time.”

Amy really hopes that guests who experience these tours gain a sense of connection to the animals and the work that the Zoo does. “Beyond that, I hope that connection grows to empathy and empathy leads to action. Action that we all can take in our everyday lives that add up together to make a difference for animals that they meet on these tours, but all animals across the world too.”

Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.