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Miami Metrozoo

It's one of South Florida's best-kept secrets. How can that be? Sitting on a huge tract of land surely the locals know all about the zoo, right? Well, they once did. When the zoo opened in the 1980s folks did turn out to see the collection of exotic animals. Yet cruel summers and the devastation of Hurricane Andrew saw attendance dropping and attractions in disrepair. That's the zoo too many Miamians remember and it's a shame.

I rediscovered Metrozoo after a January visit in 2005 and I can't gush about the attraction enough. Sure, it was a cool, beautiful day, yet the zoo has already addressed the humid heat concerns with misting stations all around and more indoor air-conditioned attractions and plenty of shady areas along the winding paths where lions, elephants, giraffes, gorillas and more relax and frolic in their natural habitats.

If you don't like to walk you can rent wide bikes large enough for the whole family -- or you can always hop on the monorail with four stops throughout the zoo that provide an aerial glimpse of most of the animal areas.

Rent a paddleboat or enjoy fast food eats at the Lakeside Café. Ride a carousel which features not horses but the sculpted likeness of the various animals that you will have seen at the zoo. Step into the huge netted aviary and check out the various specimens of bird life.

If you haven't been to Metrozoo lately you owe it to yourself to rediscover this marvelous attraction. With plans to grow the attraction by adding a water park, entertainment district and eventually hotels and an amusement park in the coming years, spread the word. The zoo is back and better than ever.

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