Five Questions with Flamingo Gardens
Among the many species of birds at Flamingo Gardens are cormorants, ibis, herons, and of course, flamingos. Photo courtesy Flamingo Gardens
Set on 60 acres on the aptly named South Flamingo Road in Davie, Florida, Flamingo Gardens features both flora and fauna. Among its many eco-attractions are a tropical plant house, a 25,000-square-foot aviary, and even an alligator lagoon. I spoke with Flamingo Gardens' Claudia Piranio about this Everglades encounter.
NEA: Please tell us a little bit about Flamingo Gardens and what makes it unique.
CLAUDIA PIRANIO: Flamingo Gardens is unique in the fact that it is a 60 acre not-for-profit botanical garden as well as a wildlife sanctuary. Our gardens have plants from all over the world, rare and exotic as well as native Florida flora. We also have a 1930s home that is open as a museum. This is the weekend home of Floyd and Jane Wray, the founders of Flamingo Gardens. There is really no other facility quite like ours.
NEA: Can you tell us a little more about the animals at Flamingo Gardens?
PIRANIO: All our animals are injured, non-releasable. When any of our animals have offspring, they are released if possible.
NEA: What’s your favorite part of Flamingo Gardens and why?
PIRANIO: My personal favorite part of the gardens is the Otter Pond. I love to stand over there and watch the river otters playing in the water and jumping off their diving board. After that, I love walking through the oak hammock early in the morning. Sitting in on the Wildlife Encounter show is special also, as there is always something new to learn about our animals.
Otters have been in residence at Flamingo Gardens for more than 20 years. Photo courtesy Flamingo Gardens
NEA: What do you hope visitors to Flamingo Gardens take away from the experience?
PIRANIO: I hope that we can foster the love for South Florida's unique eco-systems in all our guests. We hope they take away the fact that there is only one Everglades and saving it is of the utmost importance. All the creatures of the Everglades must be protected. We hope that our guests recognize the important work that we do in trying to rehabilitate the injured animals that are brought to our facility each year. We try to teach a little of this to the 25,000 schoolchildren that visit us each year.
NEA: Aside from Flamingo Gardens, what’s your own favorite museum to visit and why?
PIRANIO: I love the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale. I am a member there. They have the most amazing exhibits, the Norman Rockwell exhibition for one. They had the photographs of Alfred Steiglitz. I just love to spend the morning. It is not a very large museum, maybe that is why I like it so much. It is very intimate and all the employees and docents are friendly and available.
Visit the Flamingo Gardens website to learn more about its flora and fauna.