Friday, July 2, 2010

Miami MetroZoo is now Zoo Miami!

Happy Birthday to the Miami MetroZoo! It started out as Crandon Park Zoo way back in 1948, but this weekend is the 30th birthday of the Miami MetroZoo we all know and love, and it is now growing into Zoo Miami, which will soon include a water park and hotel on the property. As part of the celebration, Zoo Miami is offering 1980 admission prices - only $5! - as well as many other special events from July 3-5. A story on the NBC6 website said that, "A resolution to change the name, which was passed by the county commission, said " 'the name Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens is more consistent with that of other leading world-class zoos and better encompasses the variety of flora and fauna found at Miami MetroZoo.'

Zoo communications director Ron Magill said he likes the change and felt the word 'Metro' in the title was dated." Check out the great new Zoo Miami logo right here, and read on for some highlights of big events in the history of one of the top 10 zoos in the United States.

Crandon Park Zoo/Miami MetroZoo History

• Located on 53 ½ acres in the south end of Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, Crandon Park Zoo is created when three monkeys, one goat and two black bears are purchased for $270 from a small road show stranded near Miami.

1955 – 1956
• Development of the Children’s Zoo begins at the Crandon Park Zoo.
• The Zoological Society of Florida is born.

• Crandon Park Zoo grows into one of the major zoos in the country with more than 1,000 animals representing approximately 380 species.
• Hurricane Betsy puts three feet of water over most of the zoo and causes the death of 250 animals.

• The animal collection grows to an estimated 1,200 animals, resulting in the Crandon Park Zoo being ranked among the top 25 zoos in the United States.
• The zoo receives worldwide recognition for the first successful captive birth and rearing of an aardvark.
• The zoo receives a pair of Asian elephants, Dahlip and Seetna, who mature and produce two offspring – still a rather rare accomplishment in zoological collections.

• Crandon Park Zoo receives a white tiger - only the second of its kind to be brought into the United States.

• The rarest animals to be exhibited at the Crandon Park Zoo arrive: a pair of Indian rhinos.
• Crandon Park Zoo receives the first Key deer ever taken out of the Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge.

• Two southern bald eagles are hatched - the first successful captive hatching in more than 50 years.
• A two-year-old black rhino named Cora – the first animal purchased from bond issue funds specifically for the new zoo –– arrives at Crandon Park Zoo.

• Construction begins in the fall on the perimeter moat, fence and the quarantine building at the new zoo in Southwest Miami-Dade (its current location today).

• The perimeter moat, fence and quarantine building are completed in the early part of the year at the new zoo.

• In December, The Preview Center, consisting of the initial 12 exhibits opens to the public under its new name – Miami Metrozoo.

• The first major section, Asia, opens on December 12 with a total of 38 exhibits that cover 160 acres.
• A “Piece of the Past” souvenir suede bag containing a piece of the original bars used to cage the animals at the Crandon Park Zoo is given out as a literal and figurative representation that bars will no longer be used to house zoo animals.

• On December 4, an additional 25-acre exhibit area opens featuring six new exhibits of African hoofed stock.

• The monorail, under construction for about a year, opens to the public.
• On December 28, the Wings of Asia exhibit, a 1.6-acre free-flight aviary, opens.

• On December 18, three new exhibits of African hoofed stock open and lengthen the African section.

• During fall and winter, the African elephant and black rhino exhibits open in the African section.

• The Australian section of the zoo is unveiled, featuring koalas, kangaroos and wallabies.

• The east coast’s first koala is born at Miami Metrozoo.
• PAWS, the children's petting zoo, opens and replaces the original area called Sulawasi.

• The Asian River Life exhibit opens to the public, featuring small-clawed Asian otters, a blood python, Malayan water monitor, clouded leopards, land tortoises, muntjac deer, demoiselle cranes, and fly-river turtles.

• On August 24, Hurricane Andrew devastates Miami Dade County and Miami Metrozoo. More than 5,000 trees are lost and the 1.6-acre free-flight aviary, Wings of Asia, built to withstand winds of up to 120 mph, is reduced to a pile of rubbish and twisted netting. More than 100 exotic birds, which represented the finest collection of Asian birds anywhere, are lost. Many animals are temporarily housed at other zoos and facilities.

• Through donations and relentless work by staff and volunteers, the zoo starts regaining its former life and on December 18, and although considerably different, it reopens.

• In July of 1993, many animals are returned to their home at Metrozoo and 7,000 new trees are planted to restore a natural canopy to animals and visitors.

• In December 1995, the relocated koalas return to Metrozoo.

• On January 26, the Falcon Batchelor Komodo Dragon Encounter, featuring the largest lizards on earth, opens to the public.

• A clutch of 27 Komodo dragons – at the time the largest clutch to be hatched in captivity outside of Indonesia – hatches at Miami Metrozoo; it is still the largest clutch in captivity.

• The Andean condor exhibit opens.

• The meerkat exhibit opens.

• The Cuban crocodile and squirrel monkey exhibits open.
• Dr. Wilde’s World, the first indoor air-conditioned facility at the zoo, opens. The 7,000-square-foot museum gallery and educational facility houses unique traveling zoological exhibits, animals, and classrooms.

• On May 3, the American Bankers Family Aviary – Wings of Asia – opens as the largest aviary in the western hemisphere with more than 300 birds representing more than 60 species.

• In October, the Samburu Giraffe Feeding Station opens at the reticulated giraffe, ostrich and gazelle exhibit. For a small fee, visitors can feed the giraffes their favorite healthy greens and literally have the giraffes “eating out of the palm of their hand.”

• In June, $5 camel rides begin operating at the Children's Zoo. High atop a graceful dromedary camel, visitors experience the traditional form of transportation used by the desert people of Africa and Asia for thousands of years.
• In December, Amazon & Beyond exhibit opens with 27 acres of tropical American flora and fauna. It features three diverse regions – the Cloud, Amazon, and Atlantic forests – with more than 600 animals, including jaguars, an anaconda, harpy eagles, giant river otters, crocodiles, venomous snakes, frogs, and thousands of tropical plants and flowers.

• On July 4, Miami Metrozoo celebrates its 30th birthday with the unveiling of a new name, logo, look, front entrance sign and a community celebration.
• Rhino encounter area opens.

• New Children’s Zoo Wacky Barn opens.
• New Oasis Grille playgrounds open with jungle and rain forest themes.
• New amphitheater opens.

• New Florida exhibit and inside front entry open

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