When it opened as the Miami Metro Zoo back in 1980 on property then owned by the old Richmond Naval Air Station in South Miami, it had a total of 38 exhibits on about 200 acres of land secured by Miami Dade County. Now, and with a spanking new name, today Zoo Miami has more than 100 exhibits housing some 2,000 animals on 740 acres although only about 324 acres have been developed thus far.
In its history the zoo has had two very calamitous setbacks. In 1965 Hurricane Betsy completely devastated the landmark park killing more than 250 of the animals in residence at the time. After that there was talk of moving the zoo to another location, but Dade County Officials decided to rebuild, and the zoo was reopened at the same location just off SW 152 Street in 1980.
In 1992, however, a category 5 Hurricane Andrew made it’s landfall in the early morning on August 24 toppling some 5,000 trees and completely rearranging the zoo as we knew it. Andrew also totally destroyed the Wings of Asia Aviary which, according to Zoo information:
“was built to withstand winds of 120 miles per hour.” (According to the hurricane newscasts, Andrew was packing winds of around 200 miles per hour.)
The 300 or so very rare birds (about 70 difference species) from the Asian Peninsula were all destroyed.
Zoo Miami reopened, however, a few months later but the one-of-a-kind Asian Aviary (Wings of Asia) did not open until the spring of 2003 a little over a decade since that historic morning which forever changed the physical landscape of South Florida and the City of Homestead, in particular.
Some of the exhibits and attractions at Zoo Miami include Amazon & Beyond, the Children’s Zoo, and American Bankers Family Aviary just to name a few. Among some of the featured animals at Zoo Miami are the Golden Lion Tamarins, the Brown Pelicans, and the Matschie’s Tree Kangaroo of Papua New Guinea.