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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens offering behind-the-scenes access to animals

The zoo will offer special behind-the-scenes access to six different animal enclosures starting Labor Day weekend.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Are you an animal lover or maybe an aspiring veterinarian looking to interact with several different zoo animals?

If so, First Coast News is On Your Side as Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens announced Wednesday, the launch of its new 'Behind-the-Scenes Experiences,' offering guests an "extraordinary opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the zoo's most beloved residents," a news release states.

Visitors will have the chance at exploring the inner workings of some of the animal habitats while also gaining insight into the care, conservation and research efforts that take place daily, the release states.

The zoo says this opportunity is offered as a first in its 110-year history and that the exclusive experiences will last an average duration of 45 to 60 minutes with an encounter with different species.

"We are excited to unveil our new Behind-the-Scenes Experiences, which will allow our visitors to get one step closer to their favorite animals and engage with our zoo and gardens in a whole new way," said Director of Marketing and Sales at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Kelly Rouillard. "These unique experiences help us accomplish our mission of connecting communities with wildlife and wild places and offer valuable insight into the vital role zoos and aquariums play in conservation."

According to the zoo's press release, guests can choose from a variety of different experiences with the following:

  • During the African Elephant Painting experience, participants can witness the artistic talents of the Zoo's resident elephants as they create marvelous masterpieces with their trunks. This interactive encounter allows guests to observe the elephants' natural behaviors up close while learning more from on-site animal care specialists.
  • The Southern Cassowary Encounters offer a rare chance to meet one of the world's most fascinating and endangered birds. Visitors will learn about the cassowary's unique characteristics and have an opportunity to feed and interact with the magnificent creatures.
  • For those captivated by the charm of penguins, the Magellanic Penguin Encounters are a must-try. Guests will have the chance to meet these adorable sea birds, participate in a feeding session and learn more about their nesting habits.
  • The Greater Flamingo Mingle provides an intimate encounter with these elegant and vibrant birds. Visitors will have the opportunity to mingle among the flamingos, observing their graceful movements and feeding the flock their favorite snacks.
  • Warty Pig Encounters offer a unique opportunity to meet these charismatic and critically endangered pigs. Guests will discover fascinating facts about warty pigs, their habitat and the conservation efforts in place to protect them from extinction.
  • Take a behind the scenes tour of the Manatee Critical Care Center and see what it takes to rehabilitate one of Florida’s most iconic species! Visitors learn about the Zoo's vital role in rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing injured or orphaned manatees back into the wild.

The 'Behind-the-Scenes Experiences' will be available starting Labor Day weekend and are not included with admission, the release states.

Click here to purchase tickets.

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