June 2011 - Before there was a Zoo
Jacksonville Zoo History 1914-2014
Featured June 2011
Alan F. Rost, Biological Programs Registrar and unofficial Zoo historian
Before there was a Zoo
There were several events that occurred from 1888 to 1914 that stimulated public interest for a Zoo in Jacksonville. Three of these events were examples of collections of animals exhibited in the Jacksonville area.
In 1888 Jacksonville was the host to the Sub-Tropical Exposition of 1888. The Exposition included exhibits of live deer, bear, and alligators.
In the late 1890s Charles D. Fraser opened an ostrich farm in Fairfield (very roughly the area east of Everbank Stadium to the St. John’s River which was annexed into the city of Jacksonville in 1887). After 1901 he moved to Phoenix Park and changed the name to the Florida Ostrich and Alligator Farm, which featured racing ostriches pulling drivers in sulkies. The Ostrich Farm moved to St. Augustine in the 1920s.
In 1907, Dixieland Park opened in south Jacksonville featuring Bostock’s Arena of Wild Animals. Bostock had over 400 animals on display, including 87 lions, and elephants and camels for children to ride. Dixieland Park closed in 1908.