Chris and I wanted to get out of the house this morning, so we headed over to a neighborhood attraction, Monkey Jungle Miami. What exactly is Monkey Jungle? I'm glad you asked!
Monkey Jungle Miami was founded in 1933 by Joseph Dumond; Dumond brought 6 monkeys into South Florida and released them into a very lush, overgrown part of town. Monkey Jungle today is a 7 acre reserve and is one of the very few protected habitats for endangered primates in the United States - and it is the ONLY ONE that is open to the general public (as of 2015).
And when I say open, I mean open. You can walk around Monkey Jungle as you please, as long as you stay on the trails. You see, there is something quite unique about Monkey Jungle; the thing that makes me love it so much is that most of the monkeys roam free - and you are in the cage.
A total of 30 species of primates are represented at Monkey Jungle including Java, gibbons, guenons and spider monkeys. Throughout most of the park, Java monkeys run along the screening, asking for food - you can feed them through all of the baskets hanging around throughout the pathways.
Every once in a while, you'll find a small hole in the fencing that the staff haven't patched up yet, and it's pretty funny how the Java monkeys know exactly where those holes are!
They'll run alongside the holes and stick their arms through, begging for food.
Monkey Jungle has one Gorilla on the premises and I was very happy to see that they've finally finished creating his new habitat. King is an old circus gorilla that came to Monkey Jungle in his retirement, so to speak.
The horrible circus had King's teeth removed, and he has been unable to find a mate. At one point, Monkey Jungle brought a female into his habitat as a potential girlfriend, but unfortunately, she was not very nice to King and that didn't work out very well. King has a television in his habitat, lots of toys and the companionship of his handlers, but he will never be able to be released into the wild.
THIS is why I refuse to ever set foot in a circus. There are MANY levels of animal cruelty, and most of them are usually present in a circus.
After watching the Gorilla show, we headed on over to the Amazonian Rain Forest, a project that Monkey Jungle has worked on for over 60 years. Each time the vegetation begins to resemble the rain forest (which is their goal: to provide a natural habitat for the monkeys), Miami gets a bad hurricane that destroys it...Andrew, Irene, Wilma...but it's still pretty awesome and the monkeys run around like crazy and you get to see them very close!
For $89.95 entrance fee, you can actually participate in a behind the scenes encounter in this makeshift Amazonian Rain Forest - which means spider monkeys will jump all over you and you can hand feed them. My daughter has done this as part of her Zooligical studies for school and she says it is the coolest thing she's ever done!
After watching the presentation on the rain forest, we headed through the trails to feed the monkeys again. I really enjoy feeding them and looking out for the babies - they are so cute and wrinkly!
Every so often you might catch the juvenile Javas playing a game of tag, it's pretty adorable!
There are over 400 monkeys in Monkey Jungle, with about 140 Javas (as of 2015).
The other species of monkeys live in cages, but don't worry, the cages are ginormous! They have plenty of room to move around, with branches and toys to play with and special feeding tubes for some of them so that you can feed them too.
There are candy machines that dispense sunflower seeds throughout these areas so that you can buy a handful for a quarter and feed them. The monkeys are pretty smart and when they see you coming, they start shaking the feeding tubes to tell you that they want food!
After we watched the Orangutan show, we headed to the Swimming Pool to catch the feeding and show.
Now, the Swimming Pool is honestly my favorite part of Monkey Jungle. I particularly love this part of the park because it's such a serene setting and the monkeys are so cute climbing the trees and jumping in the water to get food!
When they ring the "dinner bell," a ton of monkeys come running because the animal handler throws peanuts and fresh fruits to them. Javas of all ages come to the Swimming Pool when they hear that dinner bell ring, you'll see alpha males, moms and dads, juveniles as well as babies!
Javas are also known as Crab Eating Monkeys, because this species of monkey likes to eat crab and shrimp, and they often dive into the water to get them.
Now, there aren't any crab or shrimp in this lagoon in Miami, but the monkeys will still get in the water to get the food thrown to them by the animal handler.
This is also my favorite part of the park because unlike the rest of the park, where you can only see the Java through a double mesh fence, you can see them free and clear here - you're just separated by the lagoon!
If you're lucky, you'll see some feisty babies monkeying around on the ropes course.
See what I did there?
In addition to the monkeys, Monkey Jungle also has a 2 toe sloth, several species of turtle, an iguana and an aviary!
Monkey Jungle Hours and Admission Rates
Monkey Jungle is located at 14805 Southwest 216th St. Miami, FL 33170 and is open 365 days a year, 9:30 am to 5 pm (ticketing closes at 4 pm).
Monkey Jungle Showtimes
Hanging with Orangs: 10:45 AM, 1 PM, 3:15 PM
Amazonian Rain Forest: 11:30 AM, 1:45 PM, 4 PM
Wild Monkey Swimming: 10 AM, 12:15 PM, 2:30 PM, 4:30 PM
Monkey Jungle Admission Fees
Children (3 - 9) $23.95
Seniors (65+) $27.95
Children under the age of 3 are free
Entrance to Monkey Jungle Miami is a bit expensive, but it really is a place that you can spend hours at! You can also upgrade your ticket for an annual membership for just $10 more - and then you can come back time and again!
You can also save a few dollars off your day pass by downloading a $2 off coupon here.