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Miami’s Parrot Jungle and Gardens
The Colorful History of an Uncommon Attraction
by Cory H. Gittner
- Author: Cory H. Gittner
- Release date: November 25, 2000
- Language: english
- Format: paperback, 136 pages
- ISBN: 9780813018171 (081301817X)
- Publisher: University Press of Florida
About The Book
«Illustrates the drive and dedication of a remarkable couple, Franz and Louise Scherr, and their children as they braved adversity during the depression and World War II to establish ‘The World’s Only Parrot Jungle.’ It is a beautiful story of the human spirit.» — William P. VanderWyden III, University of Miami School of Law
«A lively, comprehensive account of a famed, one-of-a-kind tourist attraction.» — Paul S. George, Miami-Dade Community College
This colorfully illustrated book tells the story of one of Florida’s oldest and most popular tourist attractions. Built in 1936 in a lush hardwood hammock near Miami, Parrot Jungle and Gardens has entertained, enthralled, and educated more than 15 million visitors, and is home to more than a thousand stunning macaws, mynah birds, cockatoos, parakeets, and peacocks.
Offering a glimpse into the tropical fantasy world that represented Florida tourism for postwar America, Parrot Jungle was one of hundreds of privately owned roadside attractions built during the thirties that featured Florida’s natural splendor. Most have disappeared, making way for corporate-owned theme parks — except for Parrot Jungle.
An Austrian immigrant, Franz Scherr, and his family opened the attraction with a dozen macaws and parrots and an assortment of raccoons, opossums, and land crabs. It has survived a world war, gas shortages, devastating hurricanes, rampant development, bird robberies, and a change in ownership — all while displaying several hundred species of subtropical birds which fascinate visitors with their intelligence, exotic beauty, distinct personalities, and remarkable capacity to mimic human voices. Some have been with the attraction longer than any employee — 50 years or more. Over the years, they appeared on television’s Miami Vice, posed with Jackie Gleason, Winston Churchill, and Miss America, and stole the show at the Florida exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair.
Miami’s Parrot Jungle and Gardens traces the history of a pioneer attraction from the golden age of «Mom and Pop» tourism, an enduring South Florida institution that will continue to draw appreciative crowds for decades to come.
Cory H. Gittner is a freelance writer and the owner of Mediatech, a public relations and marketing firm in Miami Shores, Florida. He has been a consultant and volunteer for the Dade Heritage Trust and was active in restoration of the Cape Florida Lighthouse.
Pinky, one of the most famous of the «showbiz» birds at Parrot Jungle and Gardens, cemented the attraction’s international fame as a tourist destination with her performance at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. A brilliant Moluccan cockatiel, Pinky stole the show and drew huge crowds to the State of Florida exhibit when she rode a tiny bicycle across a highwire from one end of the pavilion to the other. Now more than 60 years old, Pinky still performs her act at the Jungle’s Parrot Bowl.
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