There is a lot more to Florida than the Gulf of Mexico and the white, sandy beaches. Of course, most tourists don't get beyond the water. But there are many other attractions that give visitors a vivid and realistic picture of what Florida is all about--like Sarasota Jungle Gardens. It is one of the oldest consistently open attractions in the state, The diversity of the plant life is a major feature with over 3,000 different species of flora that have been introduced to the ecosystem since the Jungle Gardens were opened in 1939. But, to most tourists, especially the kids, the wildlife is the most interesting attraction of all. In fact, the vast majority of the exotic animals are rescues, having been taken in from the wild after previous owners abandoned them. Be sure to check out one of the daily shows featuring local wildlife. In three or 4 hours, you can walk through 10 beautiful acres of tropical gardens, watch three educational presentations on birds of prey, reptiles and parrots, observe alligators and and crocodiles and fish and snakes and iguanas and lizards, feed the flamingoes, play on a playground and have lunch. There is plenty of flora, fauna and fun to be had for sure. There also are more than 150 native and exotic animals to observe. The entire property is accessible by well-marked and winding jungle trails. The new "Flamingo Cam" provides 24-hour viewing of the flock, one of the park's favorite attractions. There also are daily bird and reptile shows that are as educational as they are entertaining. The after-show question-and-answer session and a wide variety of one-on-one animal interactions, including holding and posing for pictures, is a big reason why many people come back year after year. For the kids, the newly renovated playground, feeding the Koi fish and sounding the "All Aboard" signal on the popular wooden Choo Choo provide endless hours of fun amid the flora and fauna.
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