In September 2017, Hurricane Irma caused extensive damage across the island. Many places closed for rebuilding. Frommer's recommends that vacationers check in advance with all businesses before traveling.
Just east of Philipsburg, this is the largest park of its kind in the Caribbean. More than 500 animals comprising 80 different species from the Caribbean basin and Amazon rainforest inhabit this safari reserve. There are no cages or bars of any kind. Rather, cannily erected, environmentally conscious "naturalistic" boundaries carefully protect both animals and visitors while duplicating typical habitats. An example is Squirrel Monkey Island: The capuchins and vervets are separated by a moat (replicating the streams that draw them in the wild) stocked with water lilies, turtles, and freshwater fish. Nicely landscaped botanic gardens (with interpretive signs) alternate with various environments from a caiman marsh to a tropical forest to a boulder-strewn savannah. Walk-through aviaries hold more than 200 birds: macaws, toucans, and the Caribbean's largest display of exotic parrots. Other residents include capybaras, ocelots, peccaries, coatis, baboons, and such highly endangered species as the golden lion tamarin. The zoo even features the island's largest playground (slides and, of course, jungle gym).