I recently had a chance to go to the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford . I hadn't been there in several years and to be honest I probably won't be returning for several more.
Zoos are usually a lot of fun and you get to see animals you'd never see in real life. While there are some of these type animals there overall the zoo is lacking. I suppose the big draw are the pair of asian elephants. On the day I was there there was a "Behind the scenes encounter with the elephants". Of course this would have cost an extra $9.50. We passed. On display also were a cheetah, a couple of kangaroos, a pair of clouded leopards, and your normal basic assortment of alligators, spider monkeys, various birds, and a herpetarium. There is also the obligatory nature walk and petting zoo for kids.
My biggest problem is the zoo seems very very dated. Zoos have evolved try to give the animals larger more natural spaces. The well being of the animal is a prime concern. This is not to say that the CFZ does not care for it's animals. However the phrase "like a caged animal" seems pretty apppropriate here. The zoo appears to have major space issues with little room to expand. It also seems to be on the flight path for the Sanford airport as we heard several large planes going by.
The zoo is also not overburdened by food and souvenir shops. I suppose this can be considered a blessing in some ways especially if you have just been to Disney or Universal Studios but if the day is hot it's nice to not have to walk half way around the park to get a soda or bottle of water. The lone gift shop we noticed is woefully inadequate in it's offerings. Basic items such as postcards (a staple of any tourist location) and pins (has anyone from the zoo been to other parks and seen the popularity of pins?) are missing. The clothing assortment was poor and much of the merchandise looked like it had been there for quite a while. The zoo is definitely missing out here.
We had a buy one get one coupon for admission. This is certainly the way to go here though the gate fee is reasonable. We spent about 2-3 hours and had thouroughly covered everything despite an on again off again rain. If you can find a coupon of some kind it's not too bad. If you have time however you can find many better zoos in Florida. Zoo information can be found at their website http://www.centralfloridazoo.org/