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Monday, April 15, 2013

Goodbye to Everglades Wonder Gardens

I just found out from my friend Rick Kilby that after 77 years the Everglades Wonder Gardens in Bonita Springs, FL is closing.


I was fortunate enough to visit the Gardens about a year ago.  (I am starting to get paranoid, it seems that when I visit an ancient roadside attraction it disappears a year later.)


The Wonder Gardens were part of a dieing breed, and their loss will be felt on the American Roadside.  The Wonder Gardens was one of the old roadside "tourist traps" that used to dot the Florida Roadside.  It was part roadside zoo, part quirky museum.


The Wonder Gardens previously housed the biggest Alligator in all of Florida:  Big Joe.  Joe died in 2003, but he was still at the Gardens in wonderful taxidermic form.




The heir apparent to his thrown, is this beautiful crocodile Big Joe II.  Sadly, we do not know what will become of him.


There had guided tours of their animals, which were all native Florida animals.  Of course the main draw of any Florida attractions are the Gators.




They gave you the up and close experience that tourists demand and let you pet baby gators.



Of course my favorite part was the museum, that had some truly awesome examples of Taxidermy








They also had a collection of jars filled with some of the creepiest things possible.






One display was a watch that saved a lion handler's life.....


And a whisker from that very lion....


The museum also contained various other strange and whimsical exhibits.




The Florida Roadside has lost a wonderful attraction.  Thank you for the memories!

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to e-mail me at jacobthecarpetbagger@gmail.com
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4 comments:

  1. There aren't many places like this left. The owner was battling cancer and when I was there the future of this place seemed up for grabs. I'd love to see the grounds maintained as a garden, but real estate values are climbing again and I know some developer is licking his chops right now...

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    1. I really hate seeing something unique replaced with something bland. There is always room for compromise.....remember Cyprus Gardens was actually halfway preserved by Legoland.

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  2. I wish that they'd give you Big Joe for your office! :) Also, making mental note to buy a watch.

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    1. I would love to have Big Joe. One of my biggest regrets in life is no buying a full taxidermied alligators for a hundred dollars

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