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
ZooLights is in full swing, Santa and Rudolph have been spotted and holiday festivities abound. Gulf Breeze Zoo has unveiled over 10,000 new lights, doubled the amount of “snow” and is offering seasonal treats to help spread the holiday spirit. Add to your ZooLights night out by joining us during our mini events:
November 30 – Pace Jazz Band Entries due for Gingerbread creation contest December 01 – Dance Elite Dance Team Gingerbread creation contest judging December 07 – Ice Sculpture Carving December 12 – Irish Dancing December 14 – Ft. Walton Beach Chorus Choctaw High School Ice Sculpture Carving December 15 – Rotary Club Chili Sale December 19 – Sugar Beach High Chorus December 26 – Ice Sculpture Carving
Ice sculpture demonstrations will be held on December 7th, 14th and 26th beginning at 6pm. Watch as a master craftsman wields a chainsaw against towering blocks of solid ice to create beautiful works of zoo themed art. Sculptures will remain available for photo opportunities all evening.
Cookies with Santa - What better way to start your child’s ZooLights experience than with a fun filled hour decorating cookies and taking pictures with Santa. Cookies With Santa allows children special one-on-one time with Santa, leaving with a holiday photograph and personally decorated cookies. ZooLights admission is included with every Cookies with Santa ticket. Ages toddler to 9 years old, $25, 5pm to 6pm nightly with ZooLights. (see website for details)
1st Annual Gingerbread Creation Competition - Calling all gingerbread architects. Families and individuals of all ages are encouraged to enter zoo themedgingerbread creations in thehopes of winning the grand prize. The winner in each category will be awarded a zookeeper lead tour of the zoo, including several up close interactions with zoo animals. (see website for rules and submission requirements). Submissions must be in no later than November 30th at 4pm. Limited number will be accepted so preregistration is encouraged.
Rotary Club Chili Sale – December 15th from 6:00pm until 9:30pm Gulf Breeze Rotary Club will be selling homemade chili to raise funds for their organization.
Musical and Dance Entertainment
THE GULF BREEZE ZOO IS WELCOMING A BRAND NEW BABY Read the article From WEAR here.
RWANDA AND KIGALI REUNITED! 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 Fikar
A 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.
Thanks to our volunteers!
Episcopal Day School's 8th grade class spend the afternoon before their graduation volunteering at Gulf Breeze Zoo. Students and teachers spent the morning hours clearing brush and then moved into the zoo for an afternoon of general zoo clean up. The staff at the zoo would like to say thank you for all of the hard work and congratulations to the graduates!
Zootots is the third Saturday of each month and is an additional $3 per person. Each Zootots includes story time, a private animal feeding demonstration and a hands on animal encounter.
Feb. – Giant Tortiose
March – Squirrel Monkeys
April – Otters
May – Chimps
June – Singing Dogs
July – Rhino (Train Ticket required)
August – Giraffe
September – Bears
Oct. – Alligator
Nov. – Coatimundi
Dec. – Hippo (Train ticket required)
It's a playdate at the zoo!
UPDATE: Baby Gorilla Named Meet KIGALI!
Zookeepers reviewed the name suggestions and tallied votes, finally choosing Kigali (the capital of Rwanda) as the name for Gulf Breeze Zoo's new infant gorilla (who will be 2 months old on the 23rd).
Baby Gorilla Still to be Named Below is an abbreviated list of names that have been suggested for Gulf Breeze Zoo's infant gorilla. We had names submitted via postal mail from over 10 states, some of them across the country, and names submitted via facebook from as far as Germany. They ranged from Steve to Kigali to Cutie Pie. We loved all of the suggestions and the fantastic show of support from our local community.
We will be accepting votes on names until March 7th and will announce the infants name on March 15th. Please submit votes on our facebook page, via postal mail, or stop into the gift shop and tell them your vote.
The infant gorilla is doing very well. He has cut his first two teeth, is progressing with his mobility right on schedule, and is gaining weight every day. Animal care staff are currently providing and will continue 24 hour care until he is reintroduced back into his troop.
Baby Gorilla Born at Gulf Breeze Zoo 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.
NEW AFRICAN WHITE RHINO EXHIBIT NOW OPEN! | SEPT. 17 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.
The two young female rhinos are currently referred to by their ear notch numbers, "31" and "84". Visit Gulf Breeze Zoo on facebook to vote for their new names.
Be sure to read the related news articles located under IN THE MEDIA section below.
SQUIRREL MONKEY EXHIBIT NOW OPEN! | 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 SEE WHAT'S NEW! KING VULTURE & TRAIN
Come visit Victoria the King Vulture during a live Animal Interaction! Gulf Breeze Zoo has a new train!
Brighter, quieter and ready to go!
AUSTRALIAN BUDGIERY 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.
BEHIND THE SCENES ANIMAL TOURS 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! More>>>
SEASON PASSES & RECIPROCAL ZOO MEMBERSHIPS Gulf Breeze Zoo now offers a reciprocal zoo membership program with Virginia Safari Park [Natural Bridge, VA] and Reston Zoo [Vienna, VA]. More>>>