We recently met the family at Crandon Park Beach in Key Biscayne. We though it might be full so we got there a little early and visited the old Crandon Park zoo, located on the south side of the beach parking lot. It’s been around since the 1940′s and used to be quite an attraction from what I heard. It was even one of the top 25 zoo’s in the country at one point. An interesting fact that I found was that the first 6 animals that arrived at the zoo were from a stranded road circus that had gone out of business in Miami. You can read more about the history here.
I don’t remember going there as a child even though it officially closed in 1981. And I’m not sure when it reopened to the public as Crandon Park Gardens, since we just stumbled upon it years ago while ridding our bikes at the beach. Today it remains one of Miami’s best kept secrets, a hidden gem that not many people know about. You’ll never see more than a handful of visitors there at a time. Surrounded by a canal and dense brush it’s not easy to spot, the entry gate doesn’t even have a sign.
The center of the park is filled with small lakes and ponds…
and many species of plants…
Once inside, as you begin to walk around you can get a sense of what the Old Crandon Park Zoo must have been like since many of the cages and enclosures have been left untouched.
Some have even been painted with beautiful murals.
Although all the animals were transferred to Metro Zoo when the park closed, it’s become a bird sanctuary of sorts. You can find all kinds of birds which live in the lush lake filled 200 acres, even though they are free to go elsewhere.
From colorful peacocks showing off their beautiful feathers…
Even though the iguana population seems to have waned in the recent years, you can still see plenty of them sunning themselves.
As we were leaving we spotted several Ibises sunning themselves in a row on a fence.