The Truth About Bats

They’re often misunderstood to be blind, squeaky creatures who suck blood and get tangled in your hair, but bats are an important species. They impact our lives in ways we often don’t appreciate, like eating mosquitoes, pollinating our favorite fruits, and more!

Bats have been on Earth for more than 50 million years. With over 1,400 species, they are the second largest order of mammals, and are widely dispersed across six continents.

Next time you see a bat in your yard, consider these ways in which they enrich our lives!

The Grey-headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) is a large bat native to Australia which helps pollinate fruit.

Without bats, we could say goodbye to avocados, mangoes, bananas and more! Most flowering plants cannot produce seeds and fruit without pollination. This process also improves the genetic diversity of plants. From deserts to rainforests, bats that drink the sweet nectar inside flowers pick up a dusting of pollen and move it along to other flowers as they feed. Over 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination. Bats spread seeds, including those of the cacao plant. So, without bats, our chocolate supply would be greatly reduced!

Florida’s Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) feeds on beetles, flies, mosquitoes, flying ants, flying termites, many other insects.

Bats can eat their body weight in insects EACH NIGHT. Farmers have bats to thank for helping to protect their crops from insects. By eating insects, bats save U.S. agriculture billions of dollars each year in pest control. Some studies have estimated that service to be worth as much as 53 billion dollars annually.* That doesn’t even take into account the volume of insects eaten in forests and how that impacts the lumber industry, nor the importance of bats as crop pollinators.

An extract from the saliva of the Common Vampire Bat (Desmodus rotundus) is used for medicine.

Bats inspire medical innovations. About 80 medicines come from plants that rely on bats for pollination. Doctors have studied bat echolocation and used it to develop navigational aids for the blind. Bat research has also led to advances in vaccines for humans. Scientists have extracted a compound from vampire bat saliva and turned it into medicine (aptly named Draculin). Studies have found this anticoagulant drug to be very useful for stroke patients. Scientists are also studying bats’ resistance to DNA damage and malaria parasites in hopes of learning more about human DNA damage and how to better deal with malaria.

Bat guano (excrement) is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and is used to fertilize lawns and gardens. Nitrogen promotes rapid, green growth, and phosphorus promotes root growth and supports flowering, while potassium helps plants grow strong stems.

Interested in learning more about bats? Check out the traveling exhibit “Masters of the Night: The True Story of Bats” in the Gallery now through January 28th. Learn about how gentle bats really are, and their many benefits to the environment through lifelike models, multisensory interactive displays, and environmentally realistic settings.

(Information courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, and the National Wildlife Federation)


Chris’ Curiosities

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Chris’ Curiosities

Hello, and welcome to the inaugural edition of Chris’ Curiosities, a semi-regular column where I discuss some of the more interesting and unique plants which can be found in Flamingo Gardens. 

Ewwwww! What's that horrible smell? Elephant Foot Yam Flower

 In today’s edition, we dive into the weird world of Arums (Araceae), by looking at one of the more interesting varieties which can be seen in the garden, the elephant foot yam, Amorphophallus paeoniifolius(USDA).

 While the elephant foot yam is overshadowed by its more famous cousin, the titan arum, Amorphophallus titanum, this less-showy relative is a fascinating and economically important plant in its own right. 

 As the name suggests, the elephant foot yam is edible, and is consumed as a staple food crop in many countries across tropical Asia. These yam-like corms can grow quite large and typically weigh about 8 pounds, but can grow to a size of 30 pounds and 2 feet across (Cornell University). 

Elephant Foot Yams, a food crop in tropical Asia

 As a food crop these tubers are cooked in a manner similar to yams or potatoes and are a part of many dishes such as curries, chutneys, kebabs, and chips ( 

 The foliage of the elephant foot yam is also of interest, as each corm produces a single leaf which emerges in the spring after a winter dormancy. The lacy, palmately divided leaf bears a striking appearance and resembles an oversized, mottled stalk of celery which grows to about 3 feet in height.  

Amorphophallus paeoniifolius leaves.

 Now on to the most interesting part of the plant, the flower. The inflorescence, which occasionally emerges in the spring before the leaves, is a highly specialized stalk which has evolved to attract flies as pollinators. The sheathe (spathe) and top of the flower stalk (spadix) are the color of red meat. The bulbous end of the spadix secretes a rotten-meat smelling mucus, which attracts flies to visit the flowers in search of food. While visiting the flowers, the flies transfer pollen from the separate male flowers to the female flowers on the stalk below. 

Male and female flowers of Elephant Foot Yam, Amorphophallus paeoniifolius.

 The Elephant Foot Yam is just one of about 90 species of Amorphophallus,  which are in the Aroid family, Araceae, which contains some 3,750 individual species.

  Well, that about wraps up this first edition of Chris’ Curiosities, I hope this brief foray into the world of Aroids piques your interest to learn more about this wonderfully weird family of plants.

When you visit Flamingo Gardens you can see this and many more varieties of Aroids and other interesting plants throughout the year!

 Text and Photos by Chris Maler, Director of Horticulture. 


Floyd L Wray: A Man for Port Everglades

Floyd L. Wray: A Man for Port Everglades
 A Story of the Beginnings of Port Everglades from the
Flamingo Gardens Archives

Wray is known for growing citrus and founding Flamingo Groves, but few
people know that Wray was elected one of the first commissioners of Port
Everglades in 1931.  He was an unwavering
force in transforming Bay Mabel Harbor into a major international facility at
Port Everglades in five short years.  Wray
was reelected by a landslide for the following term, but the
election results were disputed and political
upheaval tied up the port for close to six months until June 1935.
Ultimately Wray never served a second term, despite his tremendous contributions to Port Everglades.
Floyd L. Wray 1931

Mabel, The Beginning of the Story

In 1870, General Marcellus Williams surveyed the area for a map
and named the lake he found Mabel after his son’s fiancee (they were along for
the trip).  Lake Mabel remained a shallow
lagoon, only 4 feet deep at low tide and separated from the ocean by a sand
ridge, until 1913 when it was opened to the sea for small boats.

Early Lake Mabel

Mabel Harbor

Nothing much changed until 1924 when Joseph W. Young created the
Hollywood Harbor Development Company and bought 1440 acres of land by the lake.  From the start, he envisioned a deep-water
harbor for shipping.  Financed by $2
million in bonds from Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale, workers cleared the
surrounding land, dredged, added a small entrance, and the name was changed to Bay
Mabel Harbor.  By December 1925 Young
could sail his yacht around the lake.  The
devastating Hurricane of 1926 lead to Young’s bankruptcy and his abandoning the
project.   More information on Joseph W.
Young and Bay Mabel Harbor can be found in Hollywood historian Joan Michelson’s
blog at
In 1927, the governor appointed a three-man board to oversee the harbor,
and a year later residents gathered for the grand dedication ceremony.  President Coolidge pushed a relay button in
the White House that detonated explosives to remove the rock barrier at the
entrance. As the story goes, there was a malfunction, but the barrier was soon removed.
Bay Mabel Harbor Dedication 1928
Sixty years after the naming of Lake Mabel, and 17 years after the
first real improvements began, it was still only a one-slip harbor for smaller
ships described as a “skimpy facility for handling cargo.”

Everglades, The Transformation

state legislature provided for the first
election of commissioners to the Broward Port Authority to serve a four-year
term starting in 1931. 
Floyd L.
Wray was elected with the most votes, 1372; the others were Thomas E. Swanson
with 1052, John D. Sherwin with 884, and A.J. Ryan with 870 votes.  Each would serve as chairman for three months
a year. They appointed Warren T. Eller, Executive Secretary and Port Manager.

Top: Sherwin and Wray   Bottom: Ryan and Swanson
A contest was held for a new, more appropriate name to describe
the port.  The winning entry by The Fort
Lauderdale Woman’s Club was Port Everglades as “the gateway to the rich
agricultural area embraced in the four million acres at the port’s very back

A whirlwind of growth over the next five years turned the
port into a gateway for national and international trade and cruises.  1931 was a busy year for Wray.  He traveled on
port business by car, train, and ship so often he missed 18 of the early board
meetings, communicating on progress by letter and phone. Wray went to Boston,
New York, Philadelphia, Delaware, Washington DC, New Orleans, and Cuba. He applied
for funds from the Army Corps of
Engineers to widen the entrance and deepen the turning basin. He solicited
business with shipping and cruise companies.
 Things began to happen.
New Docks, a Warehouse, Cooling Plants, and Tank Farms Soon Appear

A new dock was constructed in 1931. Wray outlined plans to apply to the US Reconstruction Finance Corp. for a
loan to provide a pre-cooling and cold storage plant, and a bonded warehouse in
1932.  T
he first petroleum company
agreed to land and pipeline easements in 1931, and two more began regular service the following year.  Starting with one then a second storage tank,
tank farms grew once the rail line was completed.  The first shipment by sea from the Pacific Coast
arrived when the tanker Mauntawny docked with a cargo of 60,000 barrels of fuel
oil for the Belcher company tank.
  By 1934, exports jumped from 1,850
long tons to 10,859, and revenue increased over 300% from 1933. Wray applied for
a loan from the Public Works Board to construct slips 2 and 3.  He started discussions for a major federal
grant to widen the channel even more by phone from New York.
Warehouse, pier improvement, and rail line brought to the port

Growth of Tank Farms

Large Freighters and Cruise Ships Visit
The Vogtland was the first cargo ship and
first foreign-flagged vessel to enter Port Everglades.  It was soon followed by the Caledonia from
Glasgow, the Ferncliff from Oslo, and many more.  In 1931, Wray negotiated and announced the
contract for twice-monthly sailings of the B&C Line.  The Talamanca and Pastores, cruise ships of
the Great White Fleet of the United Fruit Company, were the first large
passenger ships.  In 1932 the Cunard Line
started regular routes.  I
n 1933, Wray reported tonnage already far greater
than that during 1932, with imports and exports from Japan and Norway. In
December, a news headline declared, “
Two Steamers Due This Week, Tanker Is
Due Tomorrow, Danish Ship Scheduled to Arrive Wednesday.
The Fort Lauderdale Daily News predicted the
port would become a major citrus export center, with central Florida growers
interested in using Port Everglades.
Freighters and passenger ships, large and small, began to line up at the port.
Foreign commercial and cruise ships sailed in for the first time.
In 1935, more than 10,000 residents and prominent locals
welcomed the SS Columbia as it began fortnightly service between Port
Everglades and Havana.  The largest US
passenger vessel at the time, it weighed close to 40 tons, was almost 700 feet
long, and had seven decks.  There was a
pool on the Lido deck surrounded by 6,000 feet of white sand.  Wray, as part of the official welcoming
party, had breakfast aboard with the captain and other notables. 

SS Columbia welcoming ceremony, Floyd L. Wray on the right.

The Military
1933, The Langley was the first aircraft carrier to visit Port Everglades.  The CWA approved funds for leveling and
grading the docks reserved for the Coast Guard ships Unalga and Perry.  Military supply ships like the Antares
stopped at the port.  As President of the
Propeller Club, Wray entertained cadets of the NY State Maritime Academy at
Flamingo Groves. Later Port Everglades was used as a military base for the US
Navy.  The open land and ocean access
provided a staging area for military exercises. 
Lake Mable had come a long way from its humble beginnings.
Langley 1933, Antares 1934, Maritime Cadets at Flamingo Groves

No Second Term

Wray’s dedication during this first term was recognized by the voting
public.  He was reelected by a landslide
for the next term starting in January 1935. 
But as soon as the votes were counted, a maelstrom of lawsuits left the
port in chaos until June of 1935.  Throughout
this uncertain time, Wray kept sight of the goal. He continued to work for the
benefit of the port, traveling to Washington to secure a major grant, visiting
shipping companies to increase business, and helped to keep the port running when
banks were warned not to honor port checks or vouchers due to the series of injunctions. 

Everglades dominated front-page news with banner headlines and more than 30 articles
over the next several months.  Only a few of the many
headlines are mentioned, and it wasn’t a slow news time.  To put it in perspective, other news included
the Lindberg kidnapping and Hauptman trial, Amelia Earhart flying from Hawaii
to California and broadcasting during her flight, Barbara Hutton marrying a
Danish count, Trotzky hiding in France from the Soviets, France rushing troops
to the Rhine, Mussolini preparing for war, and George V celebrating 25 years on
the English throne.  One headline proclaimed “Col. Howe [President Roosevelt’s secretary] predicts woman president
within 10 years.”
It is important to note up front that Wray was not a party to, or
named in, any of the lawsuits, and the issues never questioned his work on
behalf of the port.  The lawsuits were all
fueled by partisan politics, state vs. local rule, equal representation by the
Broward cities involved, petty squabbles, and individuals who refused to step
down from the board.  Not all the issues
are represented here. There were far too
many to include.

1930, the Florida Legislature passed the Port Act allowing for the election of
commissioners rather than having them appointed by the governor.  Not realizing that it failed to include
provisions for elections after the first term, the Port Authority just went
ahead with the next election.

results of the election were in on December 12, 1934.  With 19 candidates running, Wray was
reelected with 1802 votes, and Ryan with 1077 votes.  Strickland was newly elected with 1230 votes
along with DeLoach with 914 votes.  Baxter
who had been appointed by the governor to replace Sherwin when he died in 1932
had only 724 votes and Swanson 704 votes.  Within 5 days, the lawsuits began. 

On December 27th, the first injunction was requested and heard by
a circuit judge in Fort Pierce.  The
appeal was sent to the state Supreme Court. 
In the meantime, Swanson and Baxter refused to quit the port board. 

Port Everglades was without a recognized board in January.  The State Supreme Court ruled the old board should
remain in power until successors were named, presumably by an act of the next
legislature, but the governor went ahead and appointed DeLoach and Strickland to
replace Baxter and Swanson.  Everyone
showed up for the first board meeting, so it was canceled.  Baxter and Swanson sought a new
injunction.  Another lawsuit restrained old
board members from meeting with the new board members.  Local Judge Tedder, assigned to resolve the latest
issues, threw up his hands and disqualified himself. 
“Reserve Fund” Comes to the Rescue
While everyone was bickering over the election in January, a
telegram arrived from Washington.  The
date for the hearing with the Army Engineers about an application for $903,000
for harbor improvement was set for February 4. 
There were no port officials with authority to act, and the funds would
be lost if a delegation did not attend the meeting.  No one seemed to object to Wray, Ryan, and
Eller attending because they were familiar with and could defend the
application for the grant.  So far so
good, but port funds were tied up because banks had been warned during the
injunctions not to honor port checks or vouchers.  There was no port money to pay expenses for
the trip. 
Previously, the board quietly voted themselves a salary increase
from $75 to $125, a tidy sum during the depression years (and one of the
reasons 19 ran for election).  When the
board voted for the extra income, Wray not only cast the only dissenting vote,
he refused to accept the money.  He set
the difference aside in an account each month “to be used for the good of
the port.”  According to the May 14,
1935 minutes of the board, the account totaled $1800.  About $490 was used to clear up balloting
debt, pay election workers, police support, and others who served during the
election. It is said part of the money went to port clerks and other workers
who had gone unpaid during the injunctions and were threatening to strike.  And some of that money was used to pay
expenses for the all important trip to Washington. 
After the meeting, Wray went to New York to confer with steamship
officials to increase port business. 
Ryan returned to Florida with Eller who had become ill.

Finally, some good news was reported.  Not only was the grant approved, but the amount
was also raised to over a million dollars.  

            The Lawsuits Continue

The latest case went to the Supreme Court in Tallahassee.  They ruled the governor could appoint new commissioners.  Then Swanson and Baxter opposed the
governor’s right to appoint anyone.  While
the court deliberated that issue, State Representative Rodgers submitted a new
port bill to the legislature calling for a three man port board to serve two
years.  He proposed a new election and
defended Wray in the news.

“The act under which the
governor named Strickland and DeLoach requires that his appointees must be from
the same section as the men to be succeeded. 
Thus, if the governor should reaffirm his appointment of DeLoach he will
automatically remove Floyd L. Wray who was more nearly the unanimous choice of
the entire port district for commissioner than any other man. (Mr. Wray was
high man of all the candidates and received 1,802 votes — an impressive number
of voters to try to laugh off.)”
Still at it, Wray went ahead with business.  He wrote to the State Railway Commission
about bus lines for the port. He reached an agreement with Thomas Cook and Sons
for conventions, and with Holland America to bring in the Volendam. The first
molasses storage tanks were constructed, and work on the tank farms for Standard
Oil and Belcher Oil was completed.

Finally, the legislature passed a new Port Authority Act.  On May 18, the governor went ahead and
appointed Strickland, DeLoach, and LaBrea. 
They were to serve until January 1937 and be replaced by elected
commissioners. Petitions were still being circulated by citizens who wanted elect
their own their port officials.
On May 24 headlines announced the old board was
still in charge, although the secretary of state already signed the commissions
for the new board.  In a last-ditch
effort, a new injunction was requested on the grounds that the governor’s
appointees were not legally qualified to serve.  The issue was heard by the state supreme
court, which quickly held that the case had no merit. The appointments made by
the governor were accepted, and the new board of three took office on June 1,
The appointees, Strickland, DeLoach, and LeBrea, all belonged to
the governor’s political party; Floyd L. Wray did not.

More History

6/9/17 Eye-witness Account of the Great Hurricane
of 1926

4/11/17 90th Anniversary Celebration

2/15/15 The First Tree Was Planted in 1927

12/1/14 Flamingo Gardens/Flamingo Groves: Always a great
place to party!

10/20/14 Flamingo Gardens 
a Spectacular Setting with an Eventful Past


Be sure to
leave comments about topics of interest, and any questions you have.

90th Anniversary Celebration

2017 is the
90th Anniversary of Flamingo Groves, the forerunner of Flamingo Gardens. The
founders, Floyd L. and Jane Wray, moved to Florida in 1925.  They were thrilled with their new home and the beauty of South Florida.  He had a good job selling property in Hollywood-by-the-Sea.

Then came 1926.  It was not a good year for South Florida or the Wrays. The real estate boom was
ending, and on September 19, a devastating
hurricane made landfall.

1926 HurricaneYou can only
imagine how the Wrays felt after the storm subsided.  They were grateful they fared the storm better than most. But, with the real estate business
gone, Floyd knew he had to pick himself up and consider his options. He decided
on a venture that would take him in a whole new direction —
citrus. He believed he could make a go of it if he bought inexpensive land in the drained Everglades and grew a new
variety of summer oranges, and he was right.
By the end of 1926, the new plan was in motion. Mittie Meyers Chaplin writing about
her pioneer family noted they
sold three hundred and twenty acres of Everglade land six miles west of Davie and
somewhat higher than sea level than elsewhere to a young man. That
young man was Floyd L. Wray.
Citrus IndustryFlamingo
Groves was incorporated on January 2, 1927. The first bare-root Lu Gim Gong summer-ripening orange tree was
planted in the drained Everglades on February 22.  Forty acres were
planted that first year.
exotic botanical gardens were created with the
help of the Department of Agriculture, which provided
plants and seeds from around the world. 
A flamingo pond was added and peacocks roamed the grounds.  Flamingo Groves became a South Florida show place. Other growers began to plant citrus until
western Davie was almost a continuous citrus grove.

Broward County FL
Wray built retail outlets for his fruit and other citrus-related items, and the first modern packing and shipping plant in Broward County.  He was one of the first elected commissioners that turned Bay Mable Harbor into Port Everglades, a world-class shipping and cruise facility, in only five years.  He
continued to expand the groves and included virtually every variety of
citrus and other fruit trees suited to the climate.  Flamingo Groves covered nearly 2,000
acres at its peak. 
Florida AttractionsAlthough all
the other groves eventually made way to development, Jane Wray had the foresight to create a
foundation to preserve the best 60 acres. Today, visitors from the state, country, and all around the world enjoy the botanical gardens and native wildlife exhibits. The historic Wray Home Museum shares Floyd and Jane’s history and their legacy.    

It all began with that one tree planted so many years ago. Join
us in celebrating the 90th Anniversary at Flamingo Gardens this

More History
The First Tree Was Planted in 1927
Flamingo Groves/Flamingo Gardens: Always a great place to party!
Flamingo Gardens a Spectacular Setting with an Eventful Past


From the desk of MC Flamingo… My Aunt Phyllis is a talker.

From the desk of MC Flamingo…
My Aunt Phyllis is a talker.  She’s the talkingest Flamingo in our entire flamboyance , to use the proper jargon.  How talking is she?  
  • They say if you crossed Aunt Phyllis the flamingo with a centipede, you’d get a Walkie-Talkie.  
  • They also say if you crossed Aunt Phyllis with a shark, you’d have a bird that would talk your head off.
  • They say Aunt Phyllis’ favorite game is Hide and Speak.
Needless to say, she loves her cell phone.  I remember once she was at the doctor’s office to talk about 

possible throat surgery.  She was talking on that phone in the admitting area, in the waiting room, and even ‘shushed’ the doctor until she could finally finish her call.  

She did eventually pay attention, at least long enough to ask the throat doctor, “How will they keep my mouth open during the surgery?”
The doctor replied, “Oh, that part’s easy, we’ll just keep a phone in your hand.”

If you love your cellphone like Aunt Phyllis does, you probably like the newest model, right?  Flamingo Gardens now has a way to let you upgrade “for good.”  That means upgrading for wildlife!

You can donate your old, outdated iPhone, Android, other smartphone or tablet to Flamingo Gardens and know that your old phone is going to support rescue and rehabilitation efforts.  The Flamingo Gardens animals get the benefit, and you get the tax deduction!

That old phone sitting in a drawer, or that phone you’re ready to get rid of, well, it isn’t obsolete or worthless… you can donate your old devices right through our website.

Imagine your old phone doing some good right here, right now… and donating it takes less than a minute… just Click here!

This is called an in-kind donation, and phones aren’t the only thing you can donate. You can also donate old vehicles, stock, bonds, unused gift cards, even property! Aunt Phyllis always gives me gift cards I never use, so I like to donate them to Flamingo Gardens. Like the phones, these get converted to cash and the cash is donated to Flamingo Gardens. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the Flamingo Gardens donation page here.  Every season can be a season of giving!

And speaking of seasons:  Ahhhh…. fall.  December is here, and so is cooler weather.  If you missed all the Harvest Fest events in October, you missed a lot of fun.  But no worries, because December is the month of giving, and nowhere will you be more giving of your time than when you’re at our own Flamingo Gardens in December. Check out all the Holiday Fun! Ride the Holiday Express Train to visit Santa and help Mrs. Claus pass out treats to the animals at 3pm on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10, 11, 17 & 18. Or come visit the Garden of Lights after dark and see the music and light show on December 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, & 18 from 5-8pm. 

And make sure you check out the new North American River Otter Habitat which is now open!

Okay, time for a quiz, AND a chance to win a prize:
So we already covered the fact that a group of flamingos is called a “flamboyance.”  What is a group of otters called?  A __________ of otters.
Visit our Facebook page and answer all correctly.  One of the right answers at will get 4 free passes to Flamingo Gardens!
This is MC Flamingo, signing off for Flamingo Gardens!
Flamingo Gardens is a 60 acre Botanical Garden and Everglade Wildlife Sanctuary. The Flamingo Gardens botanical gardens in Fort Lauderdale, (Davie) Florida, features over 3000 species of rare & exotic, tropical, subtropical, and native plants and trees. Flamingo Gardens wildlife sanctuary is home to the largest collection of Florida native wildlife including alligators, bobcats, eagles, otters, panthers, peacocks, and of course… flamingos!​
Flamingo Gardens is owned and operated by the Floyd L. Wray Memorial Foundation, Inc. which was established in 1969 by Mrs. Wray in honor of her late husband. Her wish to preserve the core property for future generations and emphasize the flora, fauna, and history of the Florida Everglades is the core of Flamingo Gardens’ mission still today.

August Musings of MC Flamingo…

Back when I was still in Flamingo chick school, my 3 favorite months were June, July, and August.  Summer vacation is something everyone loves, right?  When it comes to travel, the birds at Flamingo Gardens spend our summers right here at home, but I hear a lot of birds visit the Canary Islands.  Sharks, of course, enjoy Finland.  And goldfish go ‘round (and ‘round) the globe. ba-dup-bump!
I’ve always thought of August as being like the Sunday of summer, because:

1. You can be lazy if you want… just ask Anne Marie, our newest Florida Panther
photo by Laura Wyatt

2. It’s a great time to stop and smell the roses or to see our water lilies bloom.
photo by Eileen Danielson 
3. Swimming!
    video by
And hey, folks, newsflash: It’s FLORIDA.  Come September, the weather is still going to be great, the days are still long and hot, but it’s going to be way cooooler under our green canopy high on this hardwood hammock. 

And September means your chance to do it all, as we birds like to say, on the cheep!  It’s time for $7 Saturdays in September!  September 3, 10, 17, and 24, 2016 admission is only $7 for both adults and children!  Plus $7 specials in the gift shop, and $7 combo meals at the Flamingo Cafe, Garden Grill, and Tropical Marketplace. 
Plus, the famous Flamingo Gardens Narrated Tram Tour is included!   

Now here’s another one for the birds—the Labor Day Native Bird Festival.  Guess what day it’s held on?  That’s right, Labor Day!  
Monday September 5th 2016, you can experience the birds that make Florida home.  Live bird exhibits, birding classes, aviary tours, and special Birds of Prey presentations— with admission HALF-OFF on Labor Day, so you don’t have to work as long to afford to get in.
See how I tied that together?

This is MC Flamingo, signing off for Flamingo Gardens as always with impeccable timing and some skillful rhyming:
Summer seems like a season of infinite fun,
Time to do everything, and see everyone.
There is so much stuff, but the truth is rough,
You learn there’s never really quite time enough.
So with what you choose to see, 
and what you choose to do,
Make today count, make it matter for you.

July Musings from M.C. Flamingo

Some people call it July Fourth, others the Fourth of July.  Some fancy folks call it Independence Day, while most British people don’t call it anything special at all.  But whatever you call it, the day between July 3rd and July 5th is always a lot of fun here at Flamingo Gardens—and we like to get festive with our Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration. 
Photo by Linnea Stewart

This year, there were watermelon and pie eating contests, sack races, spoon races, and lots of tunes from days gone by to help remind folks that Flamingo Gardens has been doing this a long time.  We’ve been hosting picnics and barbeques since our founding as a citrus grove and botanical garden way back in 1927. Get a load of this Flamingo Gardens BBQ picnic from the 1930s.  Love those classic threads!
What do you think Mr. and Mrs. Wray are saying?
A. There’s a lot at STEAK here!
B. Why are you all up in my GRILL?
C. Dear, use your napkin.

Visit our facebook page and tell us your favorite caption at  Winner gets 4 passes to Flamingo Gardens.

Now, flamingos are famously NOT complainers, but I got to say that there is one thing that gets a little annoying on July 4th and it’s those birds that never need a comb– Abe & Liberty, the resident Bald Eagles.  They strut around from dawn to dusk acting like it’s their day or something.  Very serious birds.  As Liberty says, “There are no knock-knock jokes about Bald Eagles, because FREEDOM… RINGS!”
Photo by Lorenzo Cassina
July 4th weekend was also the first chance many had to see the newest Flamingo Gardens resident—and she’s a purty one— meet Anne Marie. 
Anne Marie is a female Florida panther—and one look lets you know that the Sunshine State did good back in 1982 by naming these beautiful creatures the official state animal.   Florida panthers are still on the endangered species list, and we’re glad Anne Marie has found a home here in our naturalistic sanctuary—Flamingo Gardens only hosts permanently injured big cats which could not otherwise survive in the wild.
Anne Marie has been occupying her habitat alone to allow her to get used to it.  It won’t be long, however, until she’ll be joined by our 2 male Florida panthers, Bubba and Osceola. We’ll be monitoring everything in the hopes that everyone gets along.
Here’s a little trivia—Florida panthers lack the ability to roar.  Instead, they make distinctive sounds like chirps, growls, hisses, purrs, and whistles. And once those boy cats get a load of Anne Marie, it’s entirely within the realm of possibility that you’ll be hearing authentic Florida Panther whistles real soon. 

We’re sorry if you missed the Old Fashioned Fourth of July, but you’re welcome to stop by anytime!  Another good time is Wet & Wild Weekend, July 16th and 17th.  Cool your jets with 20 foot waterslides and water games, and it’s a HALF-PRICE WEEKEND!  Bring the kids—it won’t be too long until they’re back in school. You’ll have your sanity back, but then everything will be just too darn quiet.

This is MC Flamingo, signing off for Flamingo Gardens as always with impeccable timing and some skillful rhyming:

There’s a Florida panther named Anne Marie,
At Flamingo Gardens– you got to see.
She’s a beautiful cat, in her habitat.
With a stately walk like an aristocrat.
She’s safe and sound, with room to roam.
So welcome Anne Marie, to your brand new home.

MC Flamingo is an author, explorer, poet, rapper, entertainer, emcee and all around celebrity among birds. MC, or just M as his friends call him, spends his days skimming for algae at Flamingo Pond and posing for the lady ‘mingos. At night he composes and writes about his experiences.

Flamingo Groves/Flamingo Gardens: Always a great place to party!

Floyd L. and Jane Wray, the founders of Flamingo Gardens, were very social people. They often hosted parties for friends, business associates, civic and church groups at Flamingo Groves. Food was prepared in the outside kitchen with its huge fireplace. Guests dressed up for the occasion. Most men wore suits and ties but removed their jackets in the heat.

Floyd, wearing an apron, is at the top right in front of the outdoor kitchen. 
His hand is on Jane’s shoulder (seated).

Sometimes the Wrays had so many guests, they had to use makeshift orange crate tables and chairs.

Jane, Floyd, and guests at a picnic on the lawn in front of Wray Home.

Jane was ready, whether there were 25 or 200 guests. Just in case you ever need 5 gallons of barbecue sauce, here is her recipe along with some 1960s grocery prices and shopping list notes for 25, 60 and 200 people.

Who did all the cooking? Everyone pitched in. Floyd barbecued wearing his apron, and even the guests were invited help with the cooking.

1932 barbecue at Flamingo Groves

When Wray was Chairman of Port Everglades in the early 1930s, the local Propeller Club cadets and their New York guests were treated to a barbecue at Flamingo Groves.

Port Everglades
Floyd L. Wray, Chairman of Port Everglades, second from left

The party for the Wrays’ 25th Anniversary, on September 1, 1935, was a huge celebration and major social event in South Florida. More than 300 friends stopped by during reception hours at their Hollywood home, and articles appeared in the local papers.

It’s a good thing Jane had a guest book ready for visitors to sign. The guest book for the Wrays’ anniversary contains signatures and good wishes, telegrams, letters, and cards from around the country, along with news clippings, so we have them to share today.

Don’t you wish there was a picture of the ladies so you could see their dresses?

Their anniversary even became the subject of a popular syndicated newspaper column.


Andrew and Imogene by Roe Fulkerson was a column distributed by the 

McNaught Syndicate (1922-1988).   It was published in papers throughout the country.

Over the years, there have been countless parties, events, and receptions at Flamingo Gardens, too. Today Flamingo Gardens hosts an annual recognition luncheon to honor its dedicated volunteers, has special openings for new exhibits, dining under the stars at the annual fundraising Gala in the Gardens and many, many other annual events to enjoy throughout the year. For more information, see Events at

You can make arrangements to celebrate almost any special occasion at Flamingo Gardens including birthday parties, weddings, and family reunions to name just a few. And, it is a splendid location for corporate events, celebrations, and meetings. See Rentals at for more information.

Be sure to leave comments about topics of interest, and any questions you have.