MIAMI -- Everyone
loves the new baby, so when I visited Parrot Jungle Island, my
guide took me first to the nursery. There I met Zowie, a young
ringtailed lemur about eight inches tall.
found in the wild only in Madagascar, gave me a stare, then leaped,
spread-eagle, onto my head.
She was all
energy and exuberance, springing around the room, from jungle gym
to countertop to shoulders, heads and laps. Zip! my pen disappeared
from my pocket. Zing! Zowie and pen rocketed to the top of the wall
cabinet, out of reach.
Zowie shares the nursery with
three other diapered roommates: a squirrel monkey named Simon and
orangutan twins Peanut and Pumpkin.
With their orange
hair and baby faces, the 1-year-old orangutans were irresistibly
problem-solvers, said Serena Moss, supervisor of the primate
section, although no one could solve the problem with the
When Peanut and
Pumpkin mature, they will join their elders, Hanna (after TV host
and animal expert Jack Hanna) and Jake (after Jakarta), in the
primate area of the park.
Island is located off the Interstate 395 causeway between Miami and
Miami Beach. Its grounds cover eight acres, including two miles of
While not nearly
as high-profile as the big Orlando parks, Parrot Jungle Island
offers an increasingly rare attraction: an amazing range of
wildlife from Bengal tigers to Malaysian bear cats to Arctic wolves
along with a childrens area and petting zoo.
What makes us
different from zoos is that we let the guests get close to the
animals, said Stephen Beatus, vice president and COO. We also have
shows featuring tigers, chimps, baboons, birds and reptiles. And
then there are the real stars for whom the park was named:
rainbow-colored parrots of every genus.
attraction is Hank the Crocosaurus, a 20-foot, chicken-eating
crocodile from Thailand with a head three feet wide.
offers shows in three venues: the Parrot Bowl, the Jungle Theater
and Wild Animal Encounter.
Among its other
features are a re-created Everglades ecosystem, a serpentarium,
venues for functions and weddings and a cafe.
attracted 100,000 students in groups in 2003. There were 600
students at the park the day I was there. Parrot Jungle works with educational and senior groups as
well as hotels.
The park is
located at 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami. Admission is $24.95 for
adults and $19.95 for children. Group and senior discounts are
available, as well.
operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, call
(305) 2-JUNGLE or visit www.parrotjungle.com.
reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].