April, 2015 – A vacation to Florida wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a tropical garden with exotic birds, and even though we weren’t exactly “on vacation” (well, maybe this was a “vacation from our vacation” ??), during our stay in Sarasota we just had to go to Jungle Gardens.
Zoo trips to kiddie parks may seem to be all alike and not really appropriate for the 50+ set if you don’t have grandkids in tow, but this place held some special treats for us. When we arrived, we were greeted by a beautiful albino peacock who looked like a princess ballerina emerging from the bushes.
The flamingos were nearby, walking all around us, and we watched them vie with the seagulls for the free food handouts that people were grabbing from little dispensers around the grounds.
I’d never stood next to a flamingo before, and I was quite surprised — these guys are really tall!
One came over and suddenly became very interested in Mark’s shoes.
I looked away, and when I looked again, Mark had squatted down to take some photos and this flamingo had marched right over to him and was resting his chin on Mark’s head!
Then this big pink creature got really interested in something on Mark’s neck.
Mark turned towards him, and he just kept on poking around, rubbing his beak all over Mark’s back. Crazy bird!!
These curious flamingos kept us occupied for quite some time, but we finally moved on to check out some of the other exotics in the park. There was an iguana…
…and an allligator pen nearby.
This is a “garden” and we saw some lovely plants. I especially liked the red and green leaves on a bush Mark found.
But it was the birds that charmed us the most. There is a big group of parrots at Jungle Gardens, and they come in all colors, from light blue to bright orange.
Some colors are even “made up” like this hybrid of a green wing macaw (which is red and green) and a blue and gold macaw (which is blue and yellow). The result — orange and green and blue!
But my favorite parrot of all is Snowflake. He’s a greater sulphur crested cockatoo that is 79 years old. And if you look at him closely, you can’t tell that he’s a day over 3. He’s in perfect shape.
There’s a very fun bird show at Jungle Gardens, and we watched two Macaws, Andy and Cracker, doing the ring toss.
Then the trainer introduced Snowflake to do his tricks. We were amazed when she told us he had performed on the Ed Sullivan Show. He rode a unicycle on TV for Ed Sullivan — and he did the same trick for us! One of the macaws got a ride on a swing underneath him as he pedaled across a tightrope. How cool is that?! He’s been performing every day for decades. What a champ!
Afterwards all the kids lined up to get their photos taken with the birds of their choice on their heads and arms.
I was the only person over 10 standing in line to get my pic taken with a bird on my arm, but Mark nudged me and said he’d take a photo of me with Snowflake. My day was made!!
Going to Jungle Gardens with kids or grandkids is probably the best way to do it, but if you don’t have any to take with you, it’s still a blast to go and be a kid yourself for a little while…
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For more info:
- Jungle Gardens – Official website
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