About Sarasota Jungle Gardens
We are a family owned and operated attraction beloved by generations. We have big dreams and work hard to fulfill them for the good of our local community, national and international visitors and employees every day. We educate and delight children, and those young at heart, with the less hurried, non-manufactured, up close and personal interactions with nature. In fact, we are one of the oldest continuously operated attractions in Florida established in 1939. We are rich in history and look to preserve memories of ‘old Florida’ days gone by while remaining current and exciting for today’s families, locals and tourists alike.
Our mission is to educate and inspire our community through interactive experiences with animals and nature supported by unmatched customer service.
Sarasota Jungle Gardens is home to more than 200 native and exotic animals including birds of prey, many different species of parrots and macaws, primates, small mammals, dozens of snakes, lizards, iguanas, alligators, crocodiles and other reptiles – many of them rescued or donated – including Florida’s noted pink flamingos. All nestled within 10 acres of lush tropical landscaping connected by winding jungle trails.
The fascinating flamingos are a favorite among visitors who travel from all over the world to see the long-legged, pink-hued wading birds. The flamingos are not shy and often greet guests personally, sometimes face to face. You might catch them splashing, flapping and strutting around. One may hand-feed them or just view them strolling by. Other times one might see the joy and thrill in a child’s first wide-eyed encounter as they interact with the flamingos, egrets, ducks, swans, pelicans and other wildlife just passing through.
Some other noteworthy features of the Gardens include daily bird and reptile shows that are as educational as they are entertaining. The after show question and answer time and a wide variety of one on one animal interactions, including holding and posing for pictures, provide the reason many folks come back year after year. For the youngest visitors, our playground, feeding our Koi fish, sounding the ‘all aboard’ signal on our beloved wooden choo choo all provide countless hours of fun.
This Florida attraction has roots that run deep. To step into Sarasota Jungle Gardens is to take a step back into time. More than 70 years back in time.
Sarasota Jungle Gardens first came into being in the early 1930s when a local newspaperman by the name of David Breed Lindsay purchased 10 acres of land just west of U.S. 41 with grand plans to develop the virgin subtropical jungle into a botanical garden. A friend and neighbor, Pearson Conrad who was the owner of an adjacent nursery, shared those same dreams and suddenly a larger plan emerged as Conrad charted streams, planned lakes and provided additional plantings from his nursery.
Importing thousands of tropical plants, trees and flowers from all over the world, hand picked because they would flourish harmoniously with native species, the Gardens gradually began to take shape. Some of our prized possessions include the rare Australian Nut Tree, a Bunya Bunya tree, the largest Norfolk Island pine in Florida, Bulrush, Strangler Figs, Royal Palms, Selloums, Banana Trees, Peruvian Apple Cactus, Staghorn Ferns and native Red Maples, Oak Trees and Bald Cypress.
In 1936, as the owners began noticing a number of people wandering daily through the now somewhat manicured jungle, the duo began charging an admittance fee of 10 cents for children and 35 cents for adults. On New Year’s Eve 1939, Sarasota Jungle Gardens officially opened to the public as an attraction beckoning locals, as well as tourists, eager to view the beautiful vegetation.
Over the years, the South Florida attraction changed hands several times. In 1971, Sarasota Jungle Gardens was purchased by Arthur C. Allyn. His daughter, Dorothy Tinney, and her family operate the Gardens today.
During the earlier years, several of the owners and their families lived on the grounds, residing in what is now the Flamingo Cafe. The Koi Pond, located just outside the snack bar, served originally as a swimming pool and was connected to the estate house. Eventually, a new admission building and gift shop were built.
In the early 70s, the Gardens introduced the first Exotic Bird Show featuring Macaws and Cockatoos trained by prison inmates from California and aptly dubbed: The Jail Birds. Some of these original birds still participate in the bird shows today.
Over the years, Sarasota Jungle Gardens has evolved into one of the area’s most historical and beautiful attractions.
It has been the inspiration for children’s books and has provided the backdrop for countless fashion photo shoots, not to mention numerous documentaries and television shows. Community outreach programs include those in local schools, nursing homes and special events.
Truly, Sarasota Jungle Gardens has touched the lives of millions and continues to do so each and every day.
Sarasota Jungle Gardens’ staff is comprised of a number of educated, experienced and devoted people who love working here. They possess a variety of specialties and experience. Some of our customer service staff have been with us for between 15 and 25 years. Our animal department staff is very familiar with all our “residents,” be they birds, mammals or reptiles. Collectively, our personnel have over well over 100 years of animal-handling experience and education. We have strong leadership and look forward to at least another 75 years of service.