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Gulf Breeze Zoo - News and Information


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Zoo is hosting a gorilla of a birthday party!

The Gulf Breeze Zoo is hosting a birthday party for Kigali, its baby gorilla, who is turning 3 years old. The celebration takes place Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. Kigali will get presents, a special gorilla cake, and play on Gorilla Island all day. Visitors can sign Kigali’s birthday card.

Gulf Breeze Zoo Partners With Toys For Tots This November

The Gulf Breeze Zoo has partnered up with Toys for Tots again this year to provide Christmas gifts for children in need in Santa Rosa and Escambia counties. The Zoo will offer a very special free admission to a sneak peak of ZooLights, Friday, November 28th with a donation of a new unwrapped toy. Toys For Tots appropriate toys will also be available for purchase in the zoo gift shop. 

Endangered zebra foals born at Gulf Breeze Zoo

GULF BREEZE, Florida -- The Gulf Breeze Zoo announced that two Grévy's zebra foals were born of different mothers on the same day, Aug. 12, at the facility. 

"We knew both females were due any day, but we couldn't predict that both females would give birth on the same day," said Desiree Hager, assistant curator, in a news release. "Both deliveries were quick and we're excited to report both babies are happy and healthy with their mothers." 

Gulf Breeze zoo hires new director

Published: Friday, August 22, 2014 at 11:42 AM.

Coming from Seattle, Washington, the Gulf Breeze Zoo’s new director Steve Jagielski isn’t quite used to Florida summers.

“I’m learning to tell the difference between two-shirt and three-shirt days,” he said with a laugh.

Jagielski comes to Gulf Breeze with an extensive background, including working at zoos in Nepal, the Bronx and Pennsylvania to name a few.

It’s a wild world: Gulf Breeze Zoo celebrates 30 years

It’s a wild world: Gulf Breeze Zoo celebrates 30 years
Published: Sunday, June 8, 2014 at 13:10 PM.

It’s been 30 years since the Gulf Breeze Zoo first opened and it’s still going strong.With the summer season in swing and a No. 1 rating on Trip Advisor as the best attraction in Gulf Breeze, there should be no problem keeping the parking lot full.

World Giraffe Day! June 21st

Celebration of World Giraffe Day on the Longest Day of the Year - Saturday, June 21st

Join us in celebrating World Giraffe Day at the Gulf Breeze Zoo! 

This June, the Gulf Breeze Zoo along with zoos, schools, and conservation organizations all over the world are celebrating the very first World Giraffe Day. Make your way to the Gulf Breeze Zoo to be part of a worldwide event on June 21st. Join us for a special Meet-A-Keeper giraffe talk at 12pm and watch as our baby giraffe, Gamba, gets bottle fed. Meet the entire giraffe family for an opportunity to learn and ask questions about these beautiful animals.

Guests are encouraged to join the party in the Giraffeteria Restaurant from 11am - 5pm. We will be giving away World Giraffe Day coloring & activity sheets for all ages. 

Gulf Breeze Zoo Awarded 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

Gulf Breeze Zoo Awarded 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

Recognized as the #1 Attraction for Gulf Breeze on the World's Largest Travel Site

Gulf Breeze, FL – June 1st – The Gulf Breeze Zoo was named the #1 attraction by  TripAdvisor® along with a Certificate of Excellence award. This award is given only to businesses that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide.  

When selecting Certificate of Excellence winners, businesses must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five and a certain volume of recent reviews. Additional criteria include a business’ tenure and popularity ranking on the site.

Zoo receives a new, feathery bundle of joy

Published: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 17:14 PM.

For the first time at Gulf Breeze Zoo, a pair of spectacled owls have a chick. 

The owlet is 5 weeks old and very healthy, according to the zoo.

Spectacled owls are from Central and South America and live primarily in dense forests. Females lay 1 to 2 eggs and incubate them for roughly 5 weeks before hatching.

Both parents will care for the owlet, taking turns feeding and protecting the nest. The young owlet will be dependent on its parents for almost 1 year.

Zoo to throw birthday party for its latest 2-year-old

Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 14:01 PM.

GULF BREEZE — It seems like a short time ago Gulf Breeze Zoo visitors were staring into a glass nursery watching a newborn gorilla learn to eat, drink and become like his mom.Kigali will celebrate his second birthday this Saturday, and the zoo is throwing a birthday party complete with a special cake, gorilla-sized birthday card and presents.“I can’t believe that he’s already turning 2,” zoo curator Tenielle Welch said during a recent tour of the zoo’s babies. “It seems like yesterday I was crawling on the ground with him on my back.”

Gulf Breeze Zoo News



The newest addition to Gulf Breeze Zoo certainly doesn’t fall short of expectations. New mom Gabby, an 11-year-old reticulated giraffe, gave birth to her first calf and the Zoo is asking for the community’s help in naming him.

The 5’8’’ male calf was born on Nov. 10. A naming contest for the giraffe will be held beginning Dec. 9and will run through Dec. 30. The winning name will be announced Jan. 1. Contest winners will receive a behind the scenes tour to meet the entire giraffe family.  Names may be submitted on the Gulf Breeze Zoo’s Facebook and a website link will be available as well.


Navarre Press


The Gulf Breeze Zoo welcomed a baby Nile hippopotamus last week. Mother Cleopatra gave birth to a healthy calf weighing approximately 65 pounds. Both mother and calf are in excellent condition and remain on exhibit for viewing.

However, because of the protective nature of hippo mothers, zookeepers have been unable to identify the sex of the calf.

Zookeepers are asking for assistance in naming the new hippo calf. To see a list of names and cast your vote, visit Gulf Breeze Zoo’s Facebook page (facebook.com/GulfBreezeZoo).

Source: Navarre Press


Frequent laughter punctuated the night as Pat Quinn's friends and family came out to play last Saturday and celebrate the founder of what is now the Gulf Breeze Zoo. Quinn's determination to bring a zoological park to the Pensacola area began in 1960 and was an uphill battle. "I drove around in a '47 Plymouth that I took the back seat out of and put a jackass in the back seat with his tail hanging out one end of the car and his head out the other side." Quinn recounted. Quinn would take his "menagerie," which included a donkey and a chimpanzee, to area schools. "People donated pennies and nickels to help start a zoo, and that is how it all began," added Quinn. Quinn's pure will and determination were noticed by several friends who became his financial backers 

Source: Navarre Press




Gulf Breeze Zoo has partnered with Toys For Tots to assist in providing Christmas gifts for children in need in Santa Rosa and Escambia counties.  In addition to providing $3000 worth of toys, the Zoo offered free admission to its November 23rd ZooLights event with the donation of an appropriate toy to Toys For Tots; resulting in over 850 toys being collected.  In addition to the light displays, the fun filled night included local Marines greeting guests, visits from Santa Claus and the Chick-Fil-A Cow, train rides and the unveiling of over 10,000 new lights that were added for this year’s festivities.“We were very pleased with the turn out,” stated Kayte Wanko, zoo director “and plan to host Toys For Tots in the coming years as well.”  Wanko says that the zoo is hoping to expand their involvement in assisting with area children in need next year by providing other necessary items in addition to the toys. ZooLights continues throughout the month of December.  For additional event dates and times please visit the website,www.gulfbreezezoo.org

For questions or photo ops please contact: Kayte Wanko


After 8 months of care by zoo staff, Kigali the Western Lowland Gorilla has been reunited with his mother. Rwanda, a 27 year-old Western Lowland Gorilla, gave birth on January 23, 2012. Due to complications during and after the birth, the infant was delivered via Cesarean Section. Zoo officials made the difficult decision to assign the initial rearing of the infant to animal care staff. "It has been the goal since day one to reunite the family," says Desiree Hager, Assistant Curator. "The fact that we were able to do it in such a short amount of time makes our entire staff really proud, and even more importantly, has made our gorillas extremely happy." From the start, the zoo was excited to share the experience of caring for the infant gorilla with its guests, allowing them to watch the gorilla-rearing team as they spent 24 hours a day teaching the infant everything he would need to know to return to his troop. Kigali and Rwanda have spent the last few months becoming reacquainted in the zoo's ape house, away from the eyes of guests. According to Kayte Wanko, Zoo Director, "The reintroduction process was one that had to be kept more private, it was an emotional experience for the gorillas." The emotion doesn't stop there. Zoo staff members are overjoyed that the two are doing so well together. "Watching Rwanda and Kigali play together on the island is something there are no words to describe. It is exactly the way it should be." said Tenielle Welch, Curator. The zoo's Director, Kayte Wanko, would like to extend her congratulations and appreciation to her dedicated team of staff members, "This was not an easy job. It took time, effort, flexibility, patience and personal strength on the parts of everyone involved. We've also had some great input from some very knowledgeable people along the way and would like to thank them for their involvement as well."

PHOTO CREDITS FOR KIGALI - JANET FIKARA special thanks to Janet Fikar for sharing some of her amazing photos with us. Kigali, who is celebrating his half birthday at the zoo on Monday (7/23/12), has certainly grown quite a bit over the last 6 months. Keeper Candice Dillon spends time with him on Gulf Breeze Zoo's ape island helping the little gorilla learn how to maneuver around, preparing him for his return to his troop.


Rwanda, a 25-year old Western Lowland Gorilla, gave birth to a 5 pound baby boy on Monday January 23, 2012.  This is Gulf Breeze Zoo’s first gorilla birth.  A team of zoo staff members began 24 hour observations on the gorilla five weeks prior to the birth and were thrilled Sunday night when she began to show signs of labor.  After 12 hours of labor, it was decided by the zoo’s veterinarian, and direct consultation with other zoo professionals, that medical intervention was necessary and a Caesarian Section was performed. 

Rwanda’s surgery was successful and she is continuing to recover.  The zoo veterinarian and staff will continue 24 hour observations until she is ready to return to her yard; that date was tentatively set for Monday, January 30.

Rwanda was unable to produce milk and displayed behaviors that were a potential threat to her offspring, which is not unusual for first-time and hand reared mothers of all species.  As a result, the gorilla infant will remain with zoo staff until he is able to return to his troop. At this time he is robust and thriving on round-the-clock care.

After confirming the pregnancy in early June, zoo officials made contact with several other zoological facilities which readily shared their experiences and have continued to assist. Gulf Breeze Zoo would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the staff at those facilities for their time and knowledge.


 Join Gulf Breeze Zoo as it celebrates National Rhino Day by welcoming 2 new African white rhinos! Stop by and check out the transport crates used to bring these two lovely cows (female rhinos are called cows) all the way from South Africa to our zoo. There will be crafts and games and a special stop on the train ride for great photo ops. Zoo keepers will be on hand all day to answer questions about the magnificent animals.

| JULY 20

Gulf Breeze Zoo is proud to announce the opening of its 2nd new exhibit this summer!South American squirrel monkeys (28 of them to be exact) have swung in and made them selves at home in their spacious new habitat. Squirrel Monkeys are small primates that live gregariously in the middle layer of the rain forest. Their small size and golden color helped to earn them the name Squirrel Monkey (their goofy antics probably played a part in it as well). This exhibit is the first of three that will utilize the section of property once occupied by the Japanese Gardens. A new clouded leopard habitat as well as a VERY large walk through free flight aviary are in the works to finish up the area next year.


Come visit Victoria the King Vulture during a live Animal Interaction! Gulf Breeze Zoo has a new train! Brighter, quieter and ready to go!

 Visit the brand new free flight aviary filled with 300+ brilliantly colored Australian budgies. Be amazed as the parakeet sized beauties fly all around. Purchase a "Budgie stick treat" and enjoy these wild birds up close as they land on and around you to enjoy their treat.


Have you ever wanted to pet the most dangerous animal in Africa? How about feed a dinosaur? Or maybe a lap full of bunnies is more your style. Join us for an exciting behind the scenes adventure and make your wildest dreams come true!    


Master sand sculptors create a sand exhibit welcoming guests to Navarre Beach, and highlighting area attractions.

Watch the video and read the article by Cory Pippin, posted on Fox10TV.com on September 19, 2011. 


Read the article by Richard McVay and view the photos by John Blackie, posted on PNJ.com on August 30, 2011.


Read the article and watch the video posted on WEARTV.com on July 21, 2011.


Read the article posted on Fox10TV.com on July 6, 2011.