Sarasota Jungle Gardens
Sarasota Jungle Gardens
While Sarasota Jungle Gardens is now a famous historical landmark, the south-west Florida attraction was once far different. Sarasota Jungle Gardens was once a boggy banana grove, listed in the City of Sarasota records as “an impenetrable swamp.” As late as the 1930s, the 10 acres which now make up the area’s only Zoological garden was a sub-tropical jungle making up some of the most primitive landscape in Florida.
David Breed Lindsay, who founded the Sarasota Herald newspaper had great visions of a botanical garden in the area and purchased 13 acres of the wild land in the early 1930s. Lindsay imported tropical plants, trees and flowers from all over the world and brought in tropical birds, many of them endangered species, to flourish amid exotic and native flora and fauna. Lindsay was joined with his friend and neighbor Pearson Conrad, who owned an adjacent nursery. Conrad charted streams, planned the lakes and provided many additional plantings from his nursery.
A few years later in 1936, Lindsay and Conrad noticed that they weren’t the only ones who were appreciative of their hard work. Local residents were meandering through their jungle! To cover the cost of picking up after the wanderers, the men established an admission fee of 10 cents for children and 35 cents for adults.
The gardens officially opened to the public in December 1940 as Sarasota Jungle Gardens.
The land changed hands a few times until 1971 when Arthur Allyn purchased the property. The property remains in the Allyn family to this day. Through the years, renovations have been made - and continue to be made - to the 65-year-old attraction.
The lush tropical gardens which make up Sarasota Jungle Gardens may have had modest beginnings, but now it has grown to become a safe sanctuary for over 100 birds and animals. Almost all of the animals at Sarasota Jungle Gardens have been rescued or abandoned. Some were deserted when their family moved, or they simply became too noisy, messy or difficult for their owners to continue caring for them. Some of the gardens’ animals weren’t pets at all, but were injured and are now unable to be safely released back into the wild. Currently, Sarasota Jungle Gardens care for spider monkeys, ringtail lemurs, wallabies and emus, goats, a Shetland pony, prairie dogs and birds.
Pictures and information were provided by Sarasota Jungle Gardens
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