Flamingo Gardens, a South Florida, Botanical Gardens & Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary was first officially established in Florida in 1927. One of Florida's oldest gardens and animal sanctuaries, the Gardens started out as "Flamingo Grove", the vision of Floyd L. and his wife, Jane Wray. The Wray's loved the subtropical climate and being devout to horticulture, they purchased over 300 acres of land, including Long Key Everglades and began what became one of the first botanical Gardens in South Florida.
The first tree planted at Flamingo Groves was a citrus tree that was the start of a 2,000-acre citrus grove with over 60 varieties and a citrus lab on site. The 1930's lead to an expansion in the horticulture testing in the lab. The United States government sent hundreds of seeds and plants for testing and planting for research. Visitor numbers grew and the Wray's built a weekend home on the grove where they hosted parties and barbeques. They began offering tours of the property and in the 1940's peacocks were introduced for guest delight. Two decades later, the indigenous alligators were corralled into a sanctuary and demonstrations and shows were given.
In 1969, Mrs. Wray established the Floyd L. Wray Memorial foundation to ensure that their vision would always be continued and the name was changed to Flamingo Gardens officially. In the 1990's the biggest expansion lead to the Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary Birds of Prey Center. This rehabilitation clinic and sanctuary for birds of prey was one of the first in the nation. Many more animal sanctuaries have opened and continued to expand over the last three decades.
Today, the garden is one of the last remaining jungles in Southern Florida and is home to over 3,000 flora species including the tree that has won records for tallest tree in Florida. Flamingo Gardens also contains more than 90 animal species that are native to Florida in the Wildlife Sanctuary.
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1.Flamingo Gardens Horticulture
Flamingo Gardens is divided into three main points of Interest--Botanical Gardens, Wildlife Sanctuary, and Wray Home Museum. All three exhibits are included in Flamingo Garden admission.
The Botanical Gardens is a large collection of various gardens in The Wray Botanical Collection and Arboretum spread out over 15 acres and home to many State Champion and record holding trees. The Arboretum is where the trees are grown. This area also has a pond, waterfall, stream and many other plantings.
The Butterfly & Hummingbird Gardens Is seasonal, but one of the most popular gardens to visit. Extremely rare butterflies such as Malachite butterfly and pink-spot sulfur butterfly. There are also several species of hummingbirds that visit this section of garden.
Children's Garden is an interactive learning environment located behind the gallery. Children are encouraged to touch and smell the plants and flowers and there are several presentations for kids and families to teach about how nature is beneficial to land and man.
Several sections of garden are specific to a particular species of flora. The Croton Garden, Florida Wildflower Garden, Ginger & Heliconia Garden and Live Oak Hammock are all true to their names and showcase the many natural varieties of plants native to Florida.
The Xeriscape Gardens is a particular interesting place because it is here that visitors can learn how to conserve water while using minimalistic approaches to gardening and using the natural landscape. This garden focuses on conservation and sustainability.
The Tropical Rainforest & Wet Lands Area is only accessible by the gardens tram and encompasses the back 50 acres of land. This area is considered to be the only natural jungle growth left in South Florida and has remained untouched since being settled by Seminole Native Americans. Touring this area of Flamingo Gardens also gets visitors a peek at the Citrus Groves and Wetland Area.
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2.Flamingo Gardens Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary
Although the Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary at Flamingo Gardens is relatively newer to the property, being only three decades old, it is already one of the largest rehabilitation centers for injured birds and Florida wildlife native to the state. Almost 100 species reside in the sanctuary including alligators, eagles, bobcats, and river otters which are part of a breeding program.
Alligator Lagoon is home to all the alligators that are taken from public areas and have nowhere to go. The Miami Vice alligator, Elvis, was even part of Alligator Lagoon. Visitors can enjoy shows and demonstrations at this attraction.
The 25,000 square foot Aviary is a free-flight building with over 250 birds from 45 species. These birds are injured and no longer can live in their natural habitats. The wildlife rescue clinic on site cares for and rehabilitates these birds and releases them into the Aviary.
Bird of Prey Center at Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary is home to some of the most endangered and rare birds of prey in Florida included owls, eagles, hawks, raptors and many more. Most of these birds have sustained an injury and are no longer able to take flight and will be at the center permanently. There is also a breeding program where over 100 birds are born and raised each year before being released back into their natural habitat to increase population numbers.
Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary is home to many large mammals as well. The Black Bear and Panther & Bobcat habitats are very popular exhibits. Josh the Black Bear is the star of the show and enjoys people and has performed at birthday parties, and other appearances. The big cats are all permanently injured and unable to survive outside of the sanctuary.
The Otter Habitat is The United States most successful breeding program for otters. Over 30 offspring have come from Flamingo Gardens since it's conception in 1989. The Parrot Aviary and Rookery are other free flight bird programs where visitors may be lucky enough for some interaction. Turtle Walk is a walk through exhibit lined with a variety of turtles and tortoises.
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3.Wray Home Exhibit
The home of Floyd L. and Jane Wray, on top of Long Key, is the oldest home west of University Drive. Built in 1933, the Wray's constructed the modest home to include a kitchen, dining room and two bedrooms with one bathroom. The house was expanded over the years as it was used primary for entertainment when the Wrays stayed at the home on the weekends. In the mid 1970's the home was converted into a museum commemorating the everglades and hosting exhibits.
The 1990's saw this home converted back into the model of a typical 1930's style Florida country home. Today the home showcases items that are connected to the Wrays and Flamingo Groves such as protraits and letters from past presidents and many other noteworthy and significant artifacts.
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4.Plan This Vacation
There are daily wildlife presentations at Flamingo Gardens that are included in admission. The programs take place in the Everglades Amphitheater and focus on being fun and entertaining while also education and informative, being primarily about how the different plants interact with nature. Conservation and recycling are also key points of many of these presentations that are geared towards families with elementary aged children. There are also special shows during events that get visitors up close and personal with some of the animals on exhibit in the Birds of Prey Center and Alligator Lagoon.
The tram is a guest favorite. This train allows guests access to over 40 remote areas of Flamingo Gardens that would not be easy to get to on foot. The tram tour is included in admission and is a 25-minute narrated tour. The guide will explain all of the significance of each exhibit as well as give a rich history lesson on the area. The tram will take guests through the last Jungle of south Florida where guests will learn about the Seminole people who inhabited the area and left the Jungle untouched.
Story Time in the Children's Garden is a once monthly event that features a children's book reading followed by craft time in the Children's Garden. Week long youth summer camps for education are also held at Flamingo Gardens. Children are immersed in ecology and environmental science on these week long adventures for children in first through fifth grade. There are adult education classes offered throughout the year as well.
Weddings, conferences, and birthday or other special events can also be held at Flamingo Gardens. The venue is able to be privately rented or used after hours for a fee. There are also galas for members and various other fundraising events throughout the year.
There are multiple upgrades to admission that allow a VIP experience for every member of the party. Meeting Josh the Bear, and take private golf cart tours with a personal tour guides can be arranged at least three days in advance. Visitors will be able to go behind the scenes in many habitats including the Florida Panther Habitat. The tour also stops at the gift shop and cafe for lunch. Group tours can be scheduled when more than 15 people will be together and include lunch and beverage.
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3750 S Flamingo Rd, Davie, FL 33330, Phone: 954-473-2955
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Things to Do in Florida: Flamingo Gardens in Davie