Sarasota Jungle Gardens welcomes exotic new arrivals


SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 12, 2013) – From the curious to the cuddly, the wildlife family at Sarasota Jungle Gardens has grown larger recently as the attraction welcomed 19 new animals into the fold.

“We are delighted with our new additions,” said Chris Lavick, chief operating officer. “Many of our guests come back time and time again to experience the wildlife and beauty of the Gardens, and it’s exciting to always have something new and fresh to share.”

Among the new animals are:

Hedgehog – The African pygmy hedgehog was donated to the Gardens by a local family. He was recently named in coordination with Facebook followers and Summer Zoo Campers. Facebook followers offered 63 name suggestions and Summer Campers chose “Spike” as the winner. The runner up name suggestion was “Bruce Quillis”.

Baby Lemur – Native to Madagascar, the new lemur was acquired for display, education, and as a companion for the male juvenile lemur Nikko. She is only 10 weeks old and has yet to be named. She won’t be on display for a few more weeks and while the lemur enclosure is being remodeled. Name suggestions will also be welcome on Sarasota Jungle Gardens’ Facebook page.

Five Prairie Dogs – Acquired for the Jungle Gardens for display and education, these prairie dogs are all related to each other and are enjoying their new home. They are native to the grasslands of North America. They are yet to be named.

Monocle Cobra – This is an albino snake (light pink in color with red eyes), native to India and Southeast Asia. He is still very young and is only about five inches long, but will grow to be about four feet long. He is yet to be named.

Copperhead Snake– “Penny” is a venomous pit viper found in the northern part of Florida. She was acquired for display and education, especially on the topic of native Florida venomous snakes.

Rabbit – This animal chose Jungle gardens as her home. She likes to eat grass, and be pet and cuddled. She is a domestic rabbit, of which there are many breeds, just like dogs. She is also awaiting a name and will appear in the Wildlife Encounter Show held daily.

Pac Man Frog – Acquired for display and education of amphibians, these are also known as South American horned frogs. The nickname “Pac Man” is derived from their characteristically large mouth and abdomen. Still a juvenile (about the size of a half-dollar), these frogs can grow to be seven inches long. This amphibian is often used in the “Bring the Jungle to You” community programs, designed for local organizations, day cares, schools, picnics and other events.

Nile Monitor – Invasive to Florida as a result of the pet trade, these aggressive lizards are not appropriate as a domestic pet. The original owner of this four-inch long baby monitor bought it at a reptile convention but did not have a license to own this species. These are found along the Nile and throughout southern Africa.

Boa Constrictor– Brought to the Gardens by head curator Jeremiah Nichol, she was his pet before coming to the Gardens. Zoo Campers named her “Sandy”, and she is a very large example of the common boa constrictors native to South America.

Savannah Monitor – Another unwanted pet, the savannah is a two-foot long juvenile which will grow to be about five feet long and weigh significantly more than he does now.

Eclectus Parrot – Donated to the Gardens by a family that could no longer take care of her. The two-year-old came named “Birda”. These parrots are known for their beautiful colors and the vast difference in colors between males and females (the males are a bright green and the females are a dark maroon, Birda is maroon and purple). These birds are from Indonesia and unlike most parrots, their diet is mostly fruit and they have a hard time eating a nuts and pellet diet.

African Grey Parrot – Given to the Gardens because a family could no longer take care of him, seven- or eight-year-old Cody joins the Jungle Gardens family. This bird is considered to be the most intelligent of the parrot species, and almost all research done on bird intelligence uses this species of African Grey.

Alexandrian Parakeets – Alex and Andrea came as a pair to the Jungle Gardens because their family was moving and could not take the birds with them. Native to India and parts of sub-Saharan Africa, these birds are at least ten years old.

American Alligator – Two-year-old “Sarge (Sergeant)” was confiscated in a drug bust by the Sarasota Police Department. He was kept illegally as a pet in an aquarium. He is lighter than he should be at two years old. He is growing quickly with proper care at the Gardens and is a regular at the reptile show held daily.

For more information visit the website or call (941) 355-1112.

About Sarasota Jungle Gardens (
Sarasota Jungle Gardens features 10 acres of lush tropical vegetation, winding jungle trails and entertaining, educational bird and reptile shows throughout the day. Established 74 years ago, Sarasota Jungle Gardens is home to more than 150 native and exotic animals, including birds of prey, many different species of parrots and macaws, free-roaming flamingos, primates, small mammals, dozens of snakes, lizards, iguanas, crocodiles and other reptiles. Many of the animals found their home at Sarasota Jungle Gardens through approved private donations or through state and federal agencies that wanted to ensure these animals would live in a safe environment and permanent, caring home.