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Destinations & Cultural Events

Destinations & Cultural Events

Santa Fe College is known for more than excellent academics. SF takes pride in being known as Gainesville’s true “community” college, providing a wide variety of enriching cultural activities for residents all year long.

The Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo

The Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo, a unique 10-acre zoo, is one of only two teaching zoos in the nation and accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Home to over 75 different species of animals, the SF Teaching Zoo is coordinated by eight full-time staff members. The college’s Zoo Animal Technology Program is attended by 200 students, and the zoo serves as a hands-on learning lab for the program. The zoo has both native and exotic species on its grounds and can proudly boast that the population includes bald eagles, white-throated capuchin monkeys, Galapagos tortoises, Matschie’s tree kangaroo and Asian small-clawed otters, just to name a few.

Boo At The Zoo

Each October the SF Zoo hosts Boo at The Zoo, Gainesville’s favorite Halloween treat for families. Students and staff transform the zoo into a spooky but safe trick-or-treating event for the whole family. Admission to the event is one canned good per person. Cans collected help two charities, Gainesville Harvest and Catholic Charities, which feed families in need from our community. Zoo visiting hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. seven days a week (except certain holidays). No appointments are necessary, and guests may walk around the zoo on a self-guided tour experiencing the exhibits at their own pace. The zoo trail is stroller and wheelchair accessible. The SF Zoo also hosts a number of conservation and educational programs. Learn more about the SF Zoo at

Santa Fe College Astronomy Lab at the northwest campus on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Photos by Aaron Daye/Santa Fe College

Star Power: Kika Silva Pla Planetarium

The sky is not the limit on Santa Fe College’s Northwest Campus. The Kika Silva Pla Planetarium, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, is a bright spot in Gainesville for stargazers of all ages.

The Planetarium was made possible by a generous donation of John Pla and his wife Amy Howard, on behalf of the Pla family, in recognition of his mother, Kika Silva Pla, and her commitment to education and passion for social justice and civic engagement.

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Since 2006, the 60-seat planetarium has employed innovative technology like the computer-controlled Goto Chronos optical-mechanical projector and an RSA Cosmos 1C-3K In Space System. The ISS 1C-3K transforms the 34-foot dome into one giant, immersive computer screen that surrounds the audience with images, animations and video for a high-tech visual experience guests will never forget. With the ISS 1C-3K, guests are transported to the surfaces of other planets, through the rings of Saturn, out into the galaxy and to the edge of the observable universe.

Show topics range from astronomy to ancient cultures, meteorology, geology, health sciences and beyond. Educational field trips will appeal to students from pre-K to college/university levels and are tailored to meet the requirements of the Florida Science Standards.

“Star Gazers” is the world’s only weekly television series on naked eye astronomy. Hosted by Santa Fe College’s Planetarium Coordinator James Albury, weekly episodes feature selected objects for naked eye viewing during the following week. Check your local PBS station for show times and dates.

For information on shows, times, tickets, and special event reservations visit the planetarium website at

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