Palm Beach Zoo
|Location||Dreher Park, West Palm Beach, Florida, United States|
|Land area||23 acres (9.3 ha)|
|No. of animals||Over 550 animals (190 species)|
The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is a non-profit zoological organization located at Dreher Park in West Palm Beach. The zoo houses more than 550 animals (190 species), many of them endangered, within 23-acres of lush tropical habitat. The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The zoo is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily with the last admission at 4:15 p.m. Palm Beach Zoo is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas days.
The Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches, Inc. (Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society) exists to inspire people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world.
In 1951, the city of West Palm Beach paid the state of Florida $100 for Bacon Park. Bacon Park was formerly used for a landfill and a tent city campground which was destroyed in the 1928 hurricane. Bacon Park was renamed Dreher Park in 1957 after Parks Superintendent Paul Dreher. As part of its transformation, Dreher built a red barn in Dreher Park. Using his own money, Dreher bought one goat, two ducks, one goose, and two chickens for the petting zoo. The zoo became known as the Dreher Park Zoo.
On February 29, 1964, a locally famous animal known as Joey the kangaroo became a resident of the zoo. Joey was a pet that was infamous for escaping from his home and wandering around the city. Joey was featured in two issues of Life Magazine in October 1961 and April 1964 and was declared an honorary member of the Boy Scouts of America . A frequent visitor to Joey’s home was President Kennedy's daughter Caroline Kennedy. Joey was later the victim of a ban that did not allow for him to stay as a house pet, and was moved to the Dreher Park Zoo.
In the early 1960s, a petting zoo known as “Jett’s Petting Zoo” visited South Florida, bringing with a young Asian elephant. Residents of South Florida campaigned for the purchase of the young elephant, now named Toppie, for the zoo. The West Palm Beach Firemen's Benevolent Association helped raise 1,000 books of Top Value Trading Stamps for the purchase, after which the elephant was named. On April 16, 1965, Toppie the four-year-old, 2,000 pound elephant arrived at the zoo where she would live until her later transfer to Lion Country Safari in 1975.
On May 19, 1965, a squirrel monkey was born at the zoo, becoming the first animal birth at the Dreher Park Zoo. On the same day, the second birth of the zoo occurred: a white fronted capuchin monkey. On March 27, 1969, with the support of the city, The Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches was founded. On October 1, the operation of the zoo was transferred over to the Zoological Society. Under the management of the Zoological Society, the zoo was transformed. By 1971, the older enclosures in the zoo had been replaced and several pathways had been paved.
In 1969, Hammer the black bear arrived at the zoo. Hammer was one of the bears used in the television show “Gentle Ben”. In 1973, Princess the Bengal tiger came to the zoo, becoming the zoo’s first big cat. In 1978, Zelda and Henrietta the pygmy hippos arrived. These hippos remained at the zoo until 1982. In 1981, the zoo built the first outdoor exhibit for goeldi’s monkeys in any zoo. In 1987, Townee the Bengal tiger arrived at the zoo. Townee was confiscated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission after being illegally held as a pet in Miami. Townee died in 2007, living to be one of the oldest tigers in the United States. In March 1989, the Dreher Park Zoo was accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. On March 17, 1995, Colin the Florida panther was born. Colin remained a resident of the zoo for 17 years.
In 1997, the Dreher Park Zoo changed its name to the Palm Beach Zoo. A donation by George and Harriett Cornell allowed the zoo to plan a $30 million redevelopment of the park. On March 19, 2000, Tiger Falls opened to the public. The zoo has since had three tiger cubs born in 2011. In 2001, the zoo opened the Florida Pioneer Trail, a re-creation of a cypress swamp habitat. In 2003, the zoo’s Interactive Fountain and Orientation Plaza opened. In 2004, the zoo opened the 18-million dollar “George and Harriett Cornell Tropics of the Americas,” a three-acre exhibit complex. The Palm Beach Zoo opened “Wallaby Station” and “Koala Forest” in 2010, which highlight wildlife from Australia.
The Melvin J. and Claire Levine Animal Care Complex opened on April 22, 2009. The 10,000 square foot facility is a five million-dollar animal hospital and is America’s first LEED certified zoo animal hospital. In 2014, the Palm Beach Zoo changed its name to the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society. The zoo now houses over 550 animals on 23 acres and has over 300,000 visitors annually.
Exhibits and attractions
Florida Pioneer Trail
The Florida Pioneer Trail showcases a recreation of a cypress swamp and features the following animals: American black bear, Florida panther, river otter, barn owl, barred owl, black vulture, turkey vulture, roseate spoonbill, scarlet ibis, American flamingo, black swan, coatimundi, and American alligator.
Harriet W. and George D. Cornell Tropics of the Americas
This 18 million-dollar exhibit complex opened in 2004 and features animals and the Mayan culture found in Central and South America. The exhibit is located on a three-acre peninsula in the zoo. Animal Planet featured Tropics of the Americas on the television show "Ultimate Zoo" in 2006. The exhibit features two Mayan pyramids that are over 40 feet tall, a nocturnal building displaying reptiles and bats, and a walk-through cave, among other displays. Capybara, blue and gold macaw, bush dog, jaguar, giant anteater, Baird's tapir, capuchin monkey, and Mexican spider monkey are among the species exhibited in this complex.
Henry and Charlotte Kimelman Tiger Habitat
On November 8, 2006, Malayan tigers “Mata” and “Rimba” arrived at the zoo from the San Diego Zoo. Malayan tiger “Berapi” came to the zoo in November 2010. Three cubs sired by Rimba were born to Berapi on May 12, 2011. The three tigers “Jaya”, “Bunga”, and “Penari” were moved to the Jacksonville Zoo on October 28, 2013.
In March 2015, the zoo opened its "Tiger River" habitat, adding an extra exhibit yard to the Henry & Charlotte Kimelman Tiger Habitat.
Koala Forest and Wallaby Station
Wallaby Station opened January 29, 2010, and Koala Forest opened on July 25, 2010. These exhibits display animals from Australia and surrounding islands. The Palm Beach Zoo has a successful yellow-footed rock wallaby breeding program, with over a dozen births in the zoo’s history. This area of the zoo exhibits Queensland koala, New Guinea singing dog yellow-footed rock wallaby, and demoiselle crane.
West Side showcases an array of animals found throughout the world. These species include serval, Komodo dragon, siamang, ring tailed lemur, red ruffed lemur, ocelot, scarlet macaw, Goeldi's monkey, golden lion tamarin, cottontop tamarin, and fennec fox.
- Interactive Play Fountain
- Wildlife Carousel
- Safari Train
- Tropics Café
- Amazon Marketplace & Jungle Traders Gift Shop
- Wild Things Show
- Wings Over Water Bird Show
- 60+ Keeper Talks & Encounters Per Week
- "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". aza.org. AZA. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
- "Zoos and Aquariums of the World". waza.org. WAZA. Retrieved 19 February 2011.