Zoo honors troops with Veterans Day passes

In honor of the millions who risk their lives for this country, Brevard Zoo will be offering free admission to active duty service members and veterans for the Veterans Day weekend Nov. 11-12.

According to the 2011-2015 American Community Service five-Year estimates conducted by the United States Census Bureau, roughly 66,534 veterans live in Brevard County, and a national telephone survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports in 2014 reported 43 percent of Americans planned to do something special to celebrate Veterans Day. 

“I like to spend [the day] at home with friends and family, doing things together, remembering those that gave their all for the freedoms we have today,”  said Angel Aranda, a former military medic, firefighter and senior airman.

Last year, the zoo ran the promotion during a period of three days, with a turnout of approximately 300 people.

“It [the promotion] is time that you can spend with your family on the holiday enjoying the weather and atmosphere of the zoo,” Aranda said.

The offer extends only to the military personnel, however spouses of currently deployed service members may claim the offer in their place. Otherwise, the family of the service member will still have to pay the regular admission.

Families of active-duty service members often deal with frequent relocation, which can lead to higher unemployment rates for military spouses and a lack of stability in friendships and educational standards for children. They also deal with the psychological and economical effects of having a family member with mental and physical disabilities as a result of combat.

“I think veteran discounts should not only be offered to military members, but also the family members,” Aranda said, “because the family goes through as much as the military members do.”

Julie Aranda, a bio-environmental engineering manager and Aranda’s wife, offered her opinion on the matter as well.

“It wouldn’t affect me using the discount,” she said. “But I would like it to be extended to the family, as they sacrifice as well.”

Regardless, the promotion offers tribute to those who’ve served and allows families to spend some time together at the zoo for a lower price and build some fond memories.

Angel Aranda expressed gratitude for the discounts.

“I’d thank [participating businesses] for reaching out to the military community, and giving us the opportunity to hang out with family and let us forget about the harsh realities of war,” he said.

In order to claim the offer, proof of military service must be provided in the form of either a United States Uniformed Services Privilege and Identification Card (active/reserve/retired), current Leave and Earnings Statement, DD 214, veteran ID, uniform or photo in uniform. 

By Emily Lovelock