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Amusement Parks: Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens – a Potted History

Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is an amusement park located in Naples, Florida.

The idea for the amusement park came about as the result of a botanist’s bad experience in 1917, when a freak ‘freeze’ in central Florida destroyed his entire plant collection. Two years later, the botanist in question, Dr. Henry Nehrling, acquired the site in Naples upon which stands the amusement park today, although it would be over 30 years later and the vision of one Julius Fleischmann who would transform Dr. Nehrling’s dreams into reality.

Fleischmann got to work to restore Nehrling’s garden in the 1940s, removing debris that had accrued over three decades and clearing trails which led to the opening of Caribbean Gardens amusement park in 1954 in which Fleischmann had introduced some exotic tropical birds.

However, it would be 1967 when the next era of Caribbean Gardens would be ushered in with the arrival of Col. Lawrence Tetzlaff along with his wife Jane who were fondly referred to as ‘Jungle Larry & Safari Jane’. They visited the amusement park’s gardens from their base in Ohio and were looking for a place at which they could house their collection of rare animals over the winter time. For the previous 3 years, they had been running Cedar Point amusement park up in Ohio which had attracted over a million visitors over the season. Their interest in the amusement park just happened to coincide with the death of Julius Fleischmann following which the Tetzlaffs were contacted to see if they’d be interested in exhibiting their animals in the gardens.

Today, the zoo amusement park is one of the main features of the gardens where visitors can see lions, kangaroos and monkeys as well as rarely seen African wild dogs and Asian deer. 

The amusement park also hosts several fun, educational and entertaining presentations such as Serpents: Fangs & Fiction and Planet Predator and there’s also an expedition cruise at the amusement park where you’ll see lemurs and apes. You can also visit Alligator Bay at the amusement park where you’ll get to see zoo keepers feeding the gators. 

The zoo and gardens amusement park is accredited by the highly respected Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is a great day out if you want to combine recreation with a gaining a greater understanding of wildlife and its conservation.

See also:
Amusement Parks: Lowry Park Zoo – a Potted History 
Amusement Parks: West Midlands Safari Park – a Potted History
Amusement Parks: The Flambards Experience – a Potted History
Amusement Parks: Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex – a Potted History

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