There’s a different kind of zoo in Miami, and believe it or not, it’s been around since 1935. It’s called the Monkey Jungle, and it is home to over 400 primates, from over 30 species. But at this zoo, the only primates in cages are its human visitors.
The brainchild of animal behaviorist Joseph Dumond, Monkey Jungle began in 1933, when Dumond released six Java monkeys into the South Dade Southern Forest (1) (an act which probably wouldn’t be permitted today). Dumond then spent the next several years collecting trees and plants from the South American rainforest, all of which have grown to create a massive, man-made jungle (1).
Visitors walk through a gently winding, caged-in catwalk running through the jungle, allowing monkeys to climb over and around them. Here, the monkeys live largely as they would in their natural habitat. This gives scientists and animal-lovers alike a rare chance to view monkeys socializing, playing and eating, uninhibited by restrictive enclosures.
Monkey Jungle regularly puts on shows, or “experiences,” such as “Hangin’ with Orangs” and “Cameroon Gorilla Forest.” The shows are unpredictable, and visitors’ witness “dynamic interactions” between trainer and monkey (2).
A non-profit rainforest and primate conservancy also run from the zoo, whose self-stated mission is “to engage scientists, students, and the public in the understanding and stewardship of nonhuman primates and their tropical forest habitats.” (3)
The zoo is always open to the public, and their website can be found here:
If you love monkeys, and you’re ever in Miami, check out Monkey Jungle – you won’t be disappointed!