Animal Attractions

From Beasts to Birds

During the late 19th century, tourists were fascinated by the many exotic animals found in Florida's roadside attractions. The alligator was a popular animal showcased by many attractions. Founded in 1893, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm is one of the state's oldest tourist attractions.

View of alligator farm: Saint Augustine, Florida (19--)

View of alligator farm: Saint Augustine, Florida (19--)

Image Number: PR24476

Founded in 1893, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm is one of Florida's oldest roadside attractions.

People feeding fish to alligators at an alligator farm: St. Augustine, Florida (1949)

People feeding fish to alligators at an alligator farm: St. Augustine, Florida (1949)

Image Number: C011976

L-R: Bernard Buck, Phyllis Trask, Rosemary Tully and Eddie Janowicz.

Man petting an alligator at an alligator farm: St. Augustine, Florida (1946)

Man petting an alligator at an alligator farm: St. Augustine, Florida (1946)

Image Number: C002759

Gatorland Alligator Farm: St. Augustine, Florida (197-)

Gatorland Alligator Farm: St. Augustine, Florida (197-)

Image Number: C001195

Entrance to Monkey Jungle: Miami, Florida (1946)

Entrance to Monkey Jungle: Miami, Florida (1946)

Image Number: C003656

In 1935, Joe and Grace DuMond founded Monkey Jungle near Miami, Florida. Monkey Jungle became one of the first tourist attractions to allow its animals to roam freely around the property.

Monkey by sign at Monkey Jungle: Miami, Florida (1946)

Monkey by sign at Monkey Jungle: Miami, Florida (1946)

Image Number: C003653

A Parrot sticks its head into the mouth of a Parrot Jungle employee: Miami, Florida (1946)

A Parrot sticks its head into the mouth of a Parrot Jungle employee: Miami, Florida (1946)

Image Number: C003527

Founded by Franz Scherr in 1936, Parrot Jungle in Miami, Florida, is one of the area's most well known roadside attractions. Trained macaws are a main highlight of Parrot Jungle.

Child feeding parrots at Parrot Jungle: Miami, Florida (1955)

Child feeding parrots at Parrot Jungle: Miami, Florida (1955)

Image Number: C022307

Cockatoo on a "bicycle" at Parrot Jungle: Miami, Florida (196-)

Cockatoo on a "bicycle" at Parrot Jungle: Miami, Florida (196-)

Image Number: RC10127

This salmon-crested cockatoo, named "Pinky," is a native of New Guinea.

Dolphins performing to the delight of the tourists: Marineland, Florida (1949)

Dolphins performing to the delight of the tourists: Marineland, Florida (1949)

Image Number: C011914

Dolphin in mid-air at Marineland of Florida: Marineland, Florida (19--)

Dolphin in mid-air at Marineland of Florida: Marineland, Florida (19--)

Image Number: C676592

Lily Champagne, billed as "The World's Only Blonde Performing Porpoise," leaps high out of the water in a two and one-half turn somersault at Marineland of Florida. Lily differs from her gray bottlenosed cousins only in color, or lack of it. Her eyes appear to be the color of light wine (champagne amber). Her skin is a delicate blend of pastel shadings of tan and pink. There is no trace visible of the gray coloring common to her species.

Family enjoying themselves at Gulfarium: Fort Walton Beach, Florida (1963)

Family enjoying themselves at Gulfarium: Fort Walton Beach, Florida (1963)

Image Number: C630135B

The Gulfarium project was started in 1954 by Brandy Siebenaler at Fort Walton Beach, Florida. It opened on August 15, 1955, with a staff of about 20 trained professionals. Gulfarium is also one of the first major tourist attractions in the Florida Panhandle.

Young boy stares at a small octopus at the Miami Seaquarium (19--)

Young boy stares at a small octopus at the Miami Seaquarium (19--)

Image Number: C677270

Seaquarium in Miami, Florida, opened in 1955, and remains a popular destination in southern Florida.

Rhinoceroses at Busch Gardens: Tampa, Florida (1965)

Rhinoceroses at Busch Gardens: Tampa, Florida (1965)

Image Number: C650008

Killer whale Shamu "kisses" a woman in Sea World: Orlando, Florida

Killer whale Shamu "kisses" a woman in Sea World: Orlando, Florida

Image Number: C682911

Relocated in 1922 to its present location on Highway A1A near St. Augustine's Bridge of Lions, the Alligator Farm houses thousands of animals, with the obvious attraction being the alligators. According to Ken Breslauer, the Alligator Farm is a "beautifully preserved example of a pioneer roadside tourist attraction." Gatorland, another alligator-focused roadside attraction in Kissimmee, Florida, opened in 1949 and is "one of the finest alligator attractions in the world."

Other roadside attractions in Florida created themes around animals besides alligators. In 1935, Monkey Jungle near Miami opened to the public. Founded by Joe and Grace DuMond, Monkey Jungle became one of the first tourist attractions to allow its animals to roam freely around the property. Another attraction near Miami that opened in 1936 housed thousands of tropical plants and birds. Known as Parrot Jungle, the roadside attraction became one of Miami's most popular tourist destinations.

Tourists also travelled to Florida to see marine life. In 1938, Marine Studios, now known as Marineland, opened to the public. Just south of St. Augustine, the attraction consists of water tanks and a porpoise stadium where dolphins perform shows for tourists. According to Breslauer, Marineland is the first true "Oceanarium" in the world. Other marine-themed roadside attractions in Florida include Gulfarium at Fort Walton Beach, and Seaquarium in Miami.